Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Take The Tech Lead — Your Customers Will Follow

A recent news release reaffirms what smart retailers already know: Consumers opt in eagerly for tech-driven customer loyalty programs. According to TOP Food & Drug, a grocery store chain in Washington state, more than 60% of its customers signed up for an RFID-based loyalty program in its first 100 days.

The TOP Connection program uses an RFID reader mounted on top of payment terminals and RFID-enabled key tags or adhesive tags for cell phones that contain unique customer identifiers. The customer relationship program uses the RFID technology to offer targeted marketing promotions and new-item notifications, and includes a 7-day price guarantee and the ability to create online shopping lists. The company believes the program, which also has increased per-trip spending, could “serve as a model for other retailers seeking to move beyond the traditional way of discount pricing to improve customer retention and store profitability."

Tech-driven customer loyalty programs, such as the ones I profiled in a recent story, can improve sales and boost overall retail operations. Steps like sharing real-time POS data with suppliers will strengthen supply-chain efficiencies and also create opportunities for personalized marketing. (Gary Hawkins, of Syracuse’s Green Hills Market, is among the leaders in embracing this methodology. Read more about his approach here.)

So, take a look at your own operations and at the tech options available. The more technology alternatives you offer, it seems, the more your customers will respond.

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