Another example of retailers opening up their IT insfrastructure to mobile startups

by Giuseppe Taibi on December 10, 2009

This was published in October 2009 by the Boston Globe:

B.good, a healthy-fast food chain with five Boston area stores, is among the first local businesses to use Stamp, an iPhone application customers can download for free. Once they enter information – such as their name and favorite menu item – they simply open the app upon entering a restaurant and the data show up on an iPod at the register. The system allows the server to offer a tiny dose of personalized service in an often impersonal service world.

“It’s something that’s missing nowadays,’’ said Ramchandani, 27, who downloaded Stamp after seeing promotional signs in the restaurant. “A lot of the time you go to a store and people just don’t know who you are.’’

Stamp also functions as a digital rewards card, replacing the typical “buy 10, get one free’’ paper promotions used by many restaurants. When an order is placed, the server taps the customer’s profile on the store’s iPod, and that person is credited with a visit. After a specified number of times, the customer earns a free sandwich, drink, ice cream, or some other reward.

The app was created by a pair of Cambridge entrepreneurs, Nick Tommarello and Matt Salzberg, to be a technologically savvy, yet inexpensive tool for businesses such as restaurants, coffee shops, or bookstores. Although it’s now available for use only on Apple Inc.’s iPhone, a version for other smart phones is on the way. The start-up fee for a business is $240, with monthly subscription fees rang ing between $50 and $200, depending on use.

[...] Peter Szende, an assistant professor at Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration, said addressing a customer by name is not always a plus.

“Name usage only makes sense when it is an honest and sincere effort to build a long-term relationship with a customer,’’ Szende said. “Name usage is unnecessary when it simply replaces a number and only serves to speed up the process. ‘Peter, your burger is ready!’ Is that really going to enhance the experience? Also, using names can be a double-edged sword. You have to be extremely careful that you pronounce the names properly.’’

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