The future of retail shopping: customer loyalty becomes EVERYTHING: yes electronic gizmos can help, but the REAL issue is loyalty and customer value!


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A high street chain is testing an electronic price tag that alters the price of an item based on the profile of the customer.

B&Q wants to use the technology to reward loyal shoppers with discounts and offers.

The new Wi-Fi-enabled price tags will be put on the edge of shelves and will identify customers through a chip in their mobile phone.

Brand loyalty: Home improvement store B&Q want to use the electronic price tags to reward loyal customer or to drop the prices at off-peak times

The high-tech system would then use data stored either from loyalty cards or spending habits to work out a price, which would be displayed next to the goods as the customer walks past.

Some will see the innovation as an extension of the vouchers they receive at the checkout. But others may worry it is the start of a two-tier pricing system that favours the rich at the expense of the poor.

Ian Cheshire, chief executive of B&Q owner Kingfisher said: ‘We have done various behind-the-scenes tests. It’s all about special offers for individuals where we are looking at bundling offers or giving discounts.’

The firm has installed electronic price tags in its French chain of Castorama stores and is now looking to introduce them in the UK.

Britain’s retailers are facing tough times as consumers rein in spending on all but the most essential of items.

Time regulated shopping: The devices could be used to encourage shoppers into the stores at less busy times to help retailers even out their staffing numbers and car parking congestion

They have been looking at new ways to attract shoppers and encourage loyalty as more people shop about for the best deals. Vouchers and promotions have become a major weapon in the battle for the retail pound and Kingfisher is looking at taking it a step further with its cutting-edge technology.

Mr Cheshire, who is chairman of the British Retail Consortium, also revealed he is looking at introducing variable pricing based on the model used by the airlines. This means products could have different prices at different times of the week depending on demand.

The weekends and evenings are usually the busiest for most retail chains and Mr Cheshire is testing a system where the prices of some products would be cheaper earlier in the day and during the week to encourage customers to come into the store at non-peak times.

This would result in fewer queues and help retailers even out their staffing numbers and car parking congestion.

Mr Cheshire said: ‘We could move to dynamic pricing and mimic the model used by easyJet. Yield management techniques are not new – it’s just they haven’t traditionally been used in retailing.

‘Pricing could be adjusted based on time of day. I am on the board of Premier Inn owner Whitbread and when I joined they had two different prices for their hotel rooms – now it’s 10,000. Look at how the airlines work and what you can do online, people are used to that.’

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Guy Arnold
Guy is the author of 'Great or Poor' ( ) … a simple and effective system for delivery of consistent and continually improving customer experiences, 'Go the Extra Inch' the effective way to empower your people, and 'Sales through Service' ( ) how to sell more through repeat business, referrals, round sales and reputation (the 4 R's). Guy helps Organisations large and small to systematically make more sales for lower costs, through 4 simple principles.


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