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April 27, 2009

In a recent email update from Iconoculture, our beloved trend-tracking vendor, was an observation article about retailers using a new technology to enhance the consumer’s shopping experience.  The observation,  entitled ” TOP Connection: Retailer uses RFID to boost shopper loyalty”, talked about a Washington retailer called TOP Food & Drug that is implementing technologies to make life easier for its customers.   (RFID stands for Radio Frequency Identification, and tends to look like this):

Here’s more info on TOP’s program, courtesy of Iconoculture:

  • TOP Food & Drug rolled out TOP Connection, an effort that tracks purchases through RFID-enabled key fobs or mobile phone stickers.
  • Thanks to the teched-out program, if a product goes on sale after a customer purchases it the price difference is automatically credited into their account (RFIDUpdate.com 3.31.09).
  • TOP Connection also allows a shopper to receive credit for a return without entering the store: The customer calls TOP to tell them about the faulty item, then discards the product and the money is returned to their account.

Being an avid shopper and online coupon enthusiast, this program would be perfect for my shopping lifestyle.  I can’t even count how many times I have purchased an item, only to find out the item went on sale just a few days later.  At the time, it was never a big enough difference for me to take action (i.e. go to the store to get the discount). Because that requires an errand, which takes time away from other things I could be doing, like watching episode after episode of America’s Next Top Model. With TOP Connection, unless I looked at my bank account, I wouldn’t even know I got a discount.  How amazing is that?  It would be like a little surprise in my bank statement.

The other cool perk to the program is that if you have a faulty item, you don’t have to take it to the store.  Just get rid of it and the money is returned to your account.  Now this will require some parameters, because even with this wonderful perk, people may abuse it.  Still, though, this offering from TOP Connection will make purchasing an item so convenient for their customers, especially the home-ridden and elderly.

As Iconoculture says in the observation’s headline, TOP Connection will boost customer loyalty.  How so? This company is putting a program in place that makes it simple for customers to interact with its brand and products. In some cases, people might purchase more since they can trust they will be taken care of if they miss the discount or the product is faulty.

The RFID technology will enable the company to track purchases, so it’s also a win for them.

TOP Food & Drug got it right with this one. Will you?

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