The patent's assignee is
News editors obtained the following quote from the background information supplied by the inventors: "Over the last few decades, retail establishments have recognized the value in strong customer loyalty. One method of establishing and strengthening customer loyalty is a loyalty 'program' where consumers enroll in the program and their purchases and use of services is tracked and rewarded. In some instances, loyalty programs use 'cards' to identify the consumer. The cards are presented at a retail establishment and associated with the transaction.
"Traditional loyalty cards and rewards programs, however, have several operational problems and limited scalability. Generally, each business, merchant, restaurant, store, etc. has its own loyalty card that it provides to its customers. While this may be convenient for the establishment, customers may get exhausted or bothered by carrying multiple rewards cards in their wallet or purse. They may forget to carry the specific loyalty/rewards card that they may require on any given day (e.g., a gas card to pump gas, a loyalty card at an ice cream shop for frequent purchasers, a discount card for a grocery store etc.). Because keeping track of multiple rewards cards is not practical for the consumer, retailers have a difficult time convincing consumers to join their programs, losing out on potential repeat customers and detailed knowledge about purchase habits.
"In parallel, retailers are increasing the use of social network applications and the use of email communication to bolster their loyalty programs and promotions. As a result of this trend, customers have to manage an ever-increasing set of communication preferences and privacy settings across multiple stores and accounts. This creates a negative customer experience and reduces program participation.
"Separately, point-of-sale systems (referred to herein 'POS') are used by merchants, businesses, retailers, etc. to conduct transactions with customers at the point of sale of a product. Typically, most loyalty and/or rewards card programs integrate directly into the POS software by allowing a clerk to enter or scan a loyalty card during a purchase. However, implementing a turn-key solution, especially for small businesses, is time consuming and difficult because of the number of loyalty/rewards cards systems and multiple types of POS software. To complicate matters even further, each POS may have a specific application programming interface (API) associated with it. Therefore, integrating a loyalty/rewards card program with each POS system in multiple locations can be time consuming, impractical and problematic.
"Manually integrating a loyalty/rewards card program into each and every POS creates operational problems because physically integrating a loyalty/rewards card program into each POS system individually is consuming and impractical. Each store, business, retailer, etc. may have a different company that provides the POS system. Modifying the POS system to integrate a loyalty/rewards card program can be very expensive, leading to expensive licensing costs.
"What is needed, therefore, is an improved method and supporting systems for integrating loyalty cards into POS systems."
As a supplement to the background information on this patent application, VerticalNews correspondents also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "In various embodiments, the invention provides methods and supporting systems for implementing and administering a consumer loyalty card program that utilizes a single loyalty card to accrue and redeem program points, rewards and monetary values across multiple retail establishments. By using a client-based application that resides on various heterogeneous point-of-sale devices and captures transaction data from scanners, receipts, and print queues, the system can allocate loyalty points and awards to individual retail establishments, brands, and locations. The transaction data is associated with an individual consumer and her single loyalty card, but the rewards, points and other benefits are maintained at the specific establishment level.
"Therefore, in a first aspect, a computer-implemented method for administering a loyalty card program includes receiving, over an electronic network, from multiple point-of-sale devices (some of which may operate using different operating systems and/or hardware), consumer transaction data. The consumer transaction data includes the identification of a loyalty card (either a physical card having a magnetic stripe,
"In some embodiments, the retail entities include one or more physical locations, and may also include one or more online e-commerce websites. In some cases, a client application is provided to each point-of-sale device to capture the consumer transaction data, which may be operating-system agnostic. The application may receive consumer transaction data from a scanner device in communication with the point-of-sale device, an electronic device using near-field communications techniques, and/or a print queue of the point-of-sale device. In certain cases, the client application appears as an independent window, separate from any software operating on the point-of-sale device, and does not interact with or directly communicate with the point-of-sale software via APIs or other means.
"In some embodiments, the value attributed to each transaction is a monetary value, and the value may also be expressed as points, merchandise, and/or discounts. In some cases, offers may be sent to the consumer based on historical consumer transaction data. The offers may be for products and/or services from retail establishments already frequented by the consumer, or, in some cases, the offers may be for related products or services. The offers may also be based, at least in part, on geospatial data from a transaction, the retail establishment, the consumer, or some combination thereof. In some cases, information regarding the transaction may be broadcast or otherwise transmitted to members of the consumers' social network using one or more social network application platforms.
"In another aspect, the invention provides a system for delivering an offer to a consumer. The system includes a processor for executing computer-executable instructions; and a memory for storing computer-executable instructions. When the instructions are executed by the processor, a loyalty card application is instantiated that implements the functionality of the methods described above. In one particular aspect, instantiations of the application collect consumer transaction data from multiple point-of-sale devices (many of which may use different operating systems, point-of-sale applications and/or hardware), which is then collected at a central server. The consumer transaction data includes the identification of a loyalty card (either a physical card having a magnetic stripe, bar code, and/or a QR code, or a virtual electronic card stored on a mobile computing device), which is uniquely attributed to an individual consumer. The loyalty card is used to conduct transactions at a plurality of unrelated retail entities, each having its own respective loyalty program. The application also attributes a value to each transaction such that each consumer is credited for use of the loyalty card at each of the unrelated retail entities at which the consumer used the loyalty card, and maintains separate loyalty card values for the consumer in each of the respective loyalty programs.
"The system may also include a downloadable client application for installation on the plurality of point-of-sale devices that captures the consumer transaction. In certain cases, the client application appears as an independent window, separate from any software operating on the point-of-sale device, and does not interact with or directly communicate with the point-of-sale software via APIs or other means. The transaction data may be captured using a scanner device in communication with the point-of-sale device, a near-field communications protocol, and or character recognition techniques as applied against a paper or electronic receipt. In some instances, the client application also includes a geospatial location module for identifying a location of the consumer, the retail establishment, and/or the transaction. The system may also include a data storage module that stores the consumer transaction data.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
"FIG. 1 illustrates a system and various additional components of a loyalty card system according to one or more embodiments of the invention.
"FIG. 2 illustrates a module view of the loyalty card system according to one or more embodiments of the invention.
"FIG. 3 illustrates a process for using a loyalty card according to one or more embodiments.
"FIG. 4 illustrates a process for using integrating a social graph view with the use of a loyalty card program according to one or more embodiments of the invention.
"FIG. 5 illustrates a schematic of a system for implementing a loyalty card application according to one embodiment of the invention.
"Other features of the present embodiments will be apparent from the accompanying drawings and from the disclosure of the various embodiments."
For additional information on this patent application, see: Doka, Matthew; Ho,
Keywords for this news article include: Software,
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