TOP Food and Drug, a Washington State grocery chain operated by Haggen Inc., has deployed an RFID-enabled customer relationship program in its stores. The program, TOP Connection, uses RFID-enabled key tags (or adhesive tags for cellphones) to target customers with tailored marketing promotions and value-added services.

The TOP Connection system uses a software platform from Accelitec Inc. This system, which is interfaced with RFID readers placed at checkout terminals and the key tags issued to customers, functions as an on-demand customer acquisition and retention platform, and holds encrypted customer information on secure servers. The software platform is compatible with legacy hardware and software used by most retailers.

To participate in the program, customers enroll and set up an online profile, including personal information and product, communication and payment preferences. The amount of information provided by customers guides the level of participation in the program, with more detailed data accessing highly customized offers and marketing. Key tags, which are designed by Vanguard ID Systems and use UPM Raflatac HF RFID inlays, are issued after enrollment and scanned automatically at checkout.

The TOP Connection program was introduced in September 2008, and within 100 days of its start, more than 60% of TOP Food and Drug shoppers had enrolled.

Developers of the program believe the technology could be used by retailers to move beyond the traditional way of discount pricing; with fine-tuning, they suggest, it could even motivate specific customer behavior, including driving sales of particular products, increasing per-trip spending and accelerating the rate of return trips.

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