Monday, June 11, 2007

Incentive Magazine on PBT's SmartShop

Loyalty's Only a Touch Away
Technology puts customer loyalty at your fingertips with Pay By Touch's biometric kiosks.

By Stacy Straczynski

You walk into your favorite coffee shop, a machine scans your finger, and the cashier begins making your usual order—remembering that you prefer soy milk. And your account is automatically charged, without your debit card. Talk about service!

No, it's not the Twilight Zone, it's the future of customer service. Consumers crave personalized experiences, and companies must find innovative ways to treat customers as individuals, not revenue generators. New technology is helping businesses belly up to the bar.

Biometrics...fingerprint authentication, leads the tech savvy trend. The San Francisco–based biometric authentication company Pay By Touch allows customers to use a virtual wallet—accessed by their unique fingerprint at checkout. By placing their finger on a touch pad, customers can pay for purchases without worry of identity theft or need for a wallet.

Pay By Touch's fingerprint recognition is being used to increase loyalty with their SmartShop program.

In-store kiosks distribute loyalty offers to participating customers before they shop, using fingerprint recognition for a personalized experience. Coupons are tailored to their previous shopping purchases.

This one-on-one marketing aims to increase redemption rates.

"SmartShop delivers sixteen offers based on what you like to buy—each customer gets a different set," says Shannon Riordan, vice president of marketing at Pay By Touch.

"[The program] sees if a customer prefers Coke to Pepsi and gives them the appropriate coupons. If a mother buys diapers for her new baby, it knows when [her] baby will turn two and delivers age-relevant products."
At Green Hills grocery store in Syracuse, N.Y., one year of the SmartShop pilot program has already impacted the store's revenue—49 percent of customers are cardholders and use the system every time they shop. The store also saw 10 percent increases in shopping frequency and basket size.

The lesson: Give customers the personal shopping experience they want, and they undoubtedly will come back to do business again.

Editors Note: In a related development, Piggly Wiggly is introducing the SmartShop program which will be known as "The Perkolator" in their brand new state-of-the-art store at the northwest corner of Burnt Church Road and the Bluffton Parkway will open next week.

The Pay By Touch system, where a customer's finger replaces a debit card, and the Pig Favorite Customer loyalty card will be familiar to Piggly Wiggly shoppers.

But the "Perkolator," a computerized kiosk where customers can swipe their savings cards for on-the-spot, individualized daily specials based on a person's shopping history, will be brand new to Lowcountry shoppers, Rita Postell, a spokesman from Piggly Wiggly said.

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