San Francisco retailer builds loyalty through digital receipts

Proximiant's platform makes it simpler to manage rewards, refunds or exchanges.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Why exactly would a small business want to use digital receipts technology, such as the new "tap and go" service offered by Proximiant? For Loyal Army Clothing, the answer comes down to the potential to build tighter relationships with customers.

Like other digital receipts platform developers, Proximiant offers a technology transceiver peripheral that plugs into a store's point of sale (POS) system. For now, the transceiver communicates with a small tag (such as the one you would receive as part of a grocery store loyalty program) to load information about a customer's purchase. The customer can access that information later on their computer within a Proximiant Web account. Ultimately, the Proximiant solution will work with mobile phones that have near field communications (NFC) capabilities. Basically, you tap your phone on the receiver, and the information is loaded, regardless of how the transaction is completed. In other words, you don't have to make a mobile payment to receive a digital receipt.

As it delivers the receipt, the application offers retailers the capability of rewarding customers with promotional offers, such as 10 percent off their next purchase. This can be programmed to happen automatically when certain items are purchase or certain purchasing thresholds are met.

"What really got me going was that they have a customer loyalty program built right into their app," said Rusty Esmus, general manager for the Loyal Army retail location in the Haight section of San Francisco. Loyal Army is one of about a dozen San Francisco Bay area retailers that is part of the beta testing program for the technology. "I don't have to track the customers, I don't need to log the customers, it is just built into the service."

The video below provides a more specific snapshot of how the technology works. When it comes out in its mobile form, retailers will be able to use the geolocation features on mobile phones to offer promotions.

Another benefit of the platform is the ability for businesses to target customers with ads and promotional information while they are viewing their Proximiant account information, Esmus said.

Proximiant plans to extend its installations of the technology in the spring of 2012 to approximately 50 retailers in San Francisco and other cities such as Chicago, Boston and New York.

Fang Cheng, co-founder and CEO of the company, said the technology requires little change to the behavior of store employees who are working the retail floor. The marketing platform is relatively simple for managers or owners to create promotions and loyalty campaigns. Proximiant is still building out its business model for the service; so the cost model for retailers is still evolving. Ultimately, the company could potentially charge the store based on sales volume, Cheng suggested.

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