Customer loyalty

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Loyalty

How loyal are your customers? Are they coming back because the way you treat them? Or Just because you offer cheap prices?

Some retailers go beyond the call of duty to make customers feel more than welcome in their stores. Some make them feel like guests. Furthermore, they may be pleased and satisfied with a particular visit, but it doesn’t translate into the same affinity and desire to return again and again.

Should you treat them as friends? A friendship is special things. People might go out of their way to see a friend. They care about them, whatever they might need or enjoy their company. On the other hand, a guest, in most cases, is unwelcome whereas a friend is not!

You need two to tango, right? Retailers must invest more time with their customers and get to know them and listen to their concerns in order to establish the trust necessary for a strong, loyal, long-lived relationship.

Loyalty translates to repeat business. Statistics show that a 5 percent of customers’ retention could increase profits from 25 to over 100 percent.

Retailers understand the concept of repeat business and want to do what they can to get it; however, they should look into turning their customers into friends rather than treating them as guest.

It takes patience and more than one visit to achieve it. Friendships are not built over-night, they need time to mature but they can have great benefit as long as you are honest and sincere. Cheap prices will not do the job.

NY Times on the rise of OpenTable

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OpenTableIt has been a while ago since I last touched the theme of Restaurant reservation systems.

New York Times runs a story about the success of OpenTable, which wasn’t exactly an overnight success. The thing that pushed OpenTable over the edge toward acceptance wasn’t so much the public-facing business —let your customers make reservations online— but the software that the restaurants were provided to keep better track of their customers and their habits. It used to be a big deal that Four Seasons Hotels tracked the preferences of all their customers but now any restaurant with the OT system can easily do the same.

Doug Washington, a co-owner of Town Hall, said the notes were not just helpful, they are occasionally indispensable. Next to the name of one regular, who has a habit of bringing in women he is not married to, is an instruction to make sure the man’s wife has not booked a separate table for the same day.

Web-based Point of Sale

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Google Gears

For years several manufacturers have tried to sell web-based POS systems, but until now with limited success. The benefits of a web-based solution are clear: lower maintenance costs, easy to upgrade and above all accessible from anywhere.

But the downside of a internet based solution is equally clear: What happens when the internet connection fails? Yes, you’re out of luck, and have to fall back to pen & paper. This disadvantage has kept many retailers from going web-based, and rightly so, as internet connection do fail once in a while.

But now Google presented Google Gears. Google Gears is an open source browser extension that enables web applications to provide offline functionality using the following JavaScript APIs:

  • Store and serve application resources locally
  • Store data locally in a fully-searchable relational database
  • Run asynchronous Javascript to improve application responsiveness

In short, Google Gears allows software manufacturers to create web-based applications that can be used off-line. Although Google Gears is still a beta product, there are already a number of sites using it. Now just wait until a Point Of Sale manufacturer implements Google Gears…

Splitting the bill with Microsoft Surface

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Microsoft SurfaceToday, Microsoft announces their latest product, Microsoft Surface. Surface is basically a powerful computer disguised as a table with a interactive surface. Surface automatically detects objects, and can interact with them.

One of the demo videos on the Surface site shows how this product can be used in a hospitality environment. The video shows a group of friends having a drink, and when one of the persons lays his credit card on the table, Surface automatically reads the card (how?) and displays information about the card holder:

Surface recognized credit card

The center of the table shows images of all the food drinks consumed at the table, and each person can simply drag an item to their credit card and split the bill:

Splitting the bill

Surface is a very neat product, but at $10.000 really only an option for very trendy places with few tables.

Sharp announces new embedded POS system

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Sharp UXP500hard

Sharp Electronics announced the availability of the UP-X300CF256 embedded POS system integrated with the optional Sharp SDW online communication solution for back office reporting.

It has a durable, sleek, matte black cabinet and a colour LCD touch-screen, making it an ideal fit for all types of hospitality environments, such as table-service and fast-casual restaurants, bars, cafeterias and delicatessens. The UP-X300CF256 has real client / server functionality with a system structure designed for real-time, dynamic information and simple maintenance via Ethernet or TCP/IP communication systems. This system is intended for configurations with up to six terminals. The system is also expandable with a variety of accessories to meet various hospitality solutions. The UP-X300CF256 can interface with key hospitality peripherals including Ethernet printers, credit card EFT, scales, kitchen video monitors and barcode scanners. For local access to accessories at the terminal, each terminal includes two USB ports and three RS-232 communication ports for a keyboard, drink dispenser, local and remote printers and other accessories.

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