Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Loyalty's Gentle Touch - SmartShop

While biometric technol-ogy is slowly inching its way into the convenience class, a one-store grocery retailer has created the first of its kind payment-plus-loyalty program called SmartShop.

Powered by Pay By Touch (www.paybytouch.com), SmartShop uses a finger scan not only for payment, but to access customized coupons, promotions and rewards from in-store kiosks.

Gary Hawkins, CEO of Green Hills Grocery (Syracuse, N.Y.), was one of the first supermarket retailers to launch a loyalty program in 1993. He believed for years that technology would enable retailers to offer specials different shoppers that fit their specific needs. When technology wouldn't make it up to speed, Hawkins decided to create SmartShop, his own Web-based infrastructure and communication system that allows him to create personalized specials.

When Pay By Touch heard what Hawkins was doing, it seized the opportunity to incorporate SmartShop into its biometric payment program.

"Loyalty cards are a poor way to identify your customers or to track shopping patterns," Hawkins said. "Too often, cards are shared, making it difficult to gauge what is bought for each household. I knew biometrics would be a convenient and accurate way to identify my customers."

SmartShop creates a personalized ad flyer for each shopper based on products they buy most often. Green Hills creates a library each week working with 100 to 150 items broken down to specific brands and packages sizes. The several-hundred offers run through a targeting engine and are compared against shoppers' purchase history. Each shopper gets 10 offers a week, but the company is considering bumping that up to 20 offers a week.

Shoppers access their specials by e-mail, the SmartShop Web site or one of three four-sq. ft. kiosks in the stores where, with a touch of their finger, a list of specials is printed. Identifying themselves at the check out with the biometric finger scanner automatically rolls back pricing for any specials they've purchased.

"Traditional marketing vehicles cost more each year and provide less return," said Hawkins. "Going to market on an individual shopper basis is very effective."

Since Hawkins is piloting the integrated SmartShop and Pay By Touch set up, cost was nominal, but he insists that the return on the investment is very strong.

"Cost varies by how many Pay By Touch finger scanners a store uses, and if they want to use the kiosks as well, which I recommend," Hawkins said. "You're maximinzing shopper lifetime value by creating relevant messages that increase their shopping frequency, market basket size and retention. Any one of those levers produces strong results and a quick ROI."

Related: NCR and Pay By Touch Deploy First Kiosks Together