I was in Marks & Spencers cafe in Cardiff earlier today (btw they’ve got lovely chairs there – look slightly like Eames’) and we were given a lovely coffee loyalty card – the typical deal – buy 9 and you get the 10th coffee free.
This got me thinking – I like this kind of deal – a loyalty scheme – and I’d love a free coffee (well, tea actually). However, I’m hopeless at keeping hold of these loyalty/reward cards so, on each visit, I’m back to square one. Pah! So much for the rewards
..so I started thinking more…
What if they used Twitter instead? This way I’d get my free coffee as I can’t lose my Twitter account (yet!). But how could this work technically? How about this: as I’m about to pay, the cashier could asks for my Twitter name and “stamps” my virtual card that way?
How would one redeem with such a scheme? Perhaps they could have a terminal where they can lookup my Twitter name, see if I’m due a reward, check the photo matches me (a good reason to have a good portrait!) and off you go!
..and then I start thinking a bit more..
What if we had a RFID card which can “beep” out our Twitter name? This would then open up loads of possibilities. The coffee queue in M&S could then have a RFID reader actively looking for these Twitter cards to simplify the rewards process further.
“You’re nuts!” you say! They’ll never install such hardware!
To which I respond:
1) Didn’t Orange get some fancy bespoke hardware installed in many UK cinemas to get their whole “Orange Wednesday” half price cinema ticket thing working? Yep! And here we’re talking about something much more open.
2) Who makes the till software? Is it still a fairly closed community? Why not use web technology (with a veneer on top to do touch screen)? That way the merchants can get ecommerce interfaces & applications bespoke to their needs and integrated into Twitter, Facebook as much as possible
Privacy! I hear you scream!
Well perhaps the cat is already out of the bag. Twitter is by default public so perhaps we’re happy for reward schemes to piggy back onto it?
…wait there’s more!
By piggy backing on top of a ubiquitous technology like Twitter we’ve got other options. What about these scenarios:
1) M&S could offer “if you buy a newspaper from WH Smiths and a coffee from us then you get a 50% discount”; cross merchant etc.
2) Different pricing schemes per user group. I think this is coming anyway – price is relative and flexible – if “MUMS OF THE UK FACEBOOK GROUP” banded together, could they not get 25% off coffee mornings hosted at M&S – surely they’d have massive buying power?
The way I see it, social networking, Twitter etc (with a little help from technologies such as RFID etc) can give us the human equivalent of what we come to know as a “cookie” (in the web browser sense) – a non confidential global data storage mechanism.
Interesting times ahead with this technology and more buyer power I reckon.