|| The Perspective
Wednesday, 04 March 2015
A year later, retailers are reporting positive results from iBeacon campaigns. There are, however, still challenges from the caveats associated with iBeacons.
Specifically, customers must be iPhone users. They must download the retailers’ app. They must enable Wifi on their phone and opt-in to receive notifications. Many consumers are not willing to opt-in because they have privacy concerns about retailers collecting their data. Physical Cookie gives retailers and their customers the benefits of iBeacons without having to meet all of these requirements.
What is Physical Cookie?
Physical Cookie is a RFID-tag within a piece of plastic, usually on a key-fob, which retailers can give to their customers as they shop. The customer puts Physical Cookie in their pocket and then has to take no additional steps. Electric readers are then placed around the retail store. The Physical Cookie key-fob collects data in real-time in the same way cookies on websites do (hence the name). Digital screens within the store, show customers advertisements based on their behavior. Customers do not sign up or register, so there are no privacy concerns involved. Physical Cookie has operated in the Citycenter shopping mall in Helsinki, as part of a trial since Fall 2014.
Physical Cookie is easier for the consumer to use than iBeacons. Unlike the Bluetooth technology used for iBeacons, Physical Cookie is always on. Instead of pinging a user’s phone, the actual retail environment reacts to the consumers behavior, which feels much less spammy.
The Physical Cookie Customer Loyalty Program
In the Citycenter trial, a customer loyalty program called VIP-key was launched. The VIP-keys were given to 14,000 randomly selected customers who were then automatically part of a loyalty program, without ever having to opt-in, register, or sign up for anything. The trial was in a shopping center but Physical Cookie has said this can work for both retail chains and for brands working within big-box retailers.
While this trial was conducted using Physical Cookies in a key-fob format, the company said in the future this does not necessarily have to be the case. The key-fob format was selected with the thought process that customers enter the shopping center with their wallet, mobile phone, and keys with them. The average customers wallet is already full of loyalty cards, and mobile phones would require opt-in. The key chain was chosen instead because it does not already have any smart device on it.
- The VIP-key cost the equivalent of about two cents in US Dollars.
- 15% of the VIP-keys were active.
- They showed a 14.5% increase in activity between floors.
- There a was a 21.7% increase in time spent in the shopping center.
For more information on enhancing your customers’ retail experience, please visit our About page.
Photo Credit: Physical Cookie
Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Hi, my name is David, and I’m a Disney-holic.
My family and I have been going to Disney World almost every year since my kids were young. Now that my grown kids aren’t “kids” anymore, we experience the parks in different ways but still love it just as much. On our family Disney trip last month, we couldn’t stop talking about the newest technology advancement that was included in our experience.
Disney’s MagicBands are light, colorful bracelets that make the whole guest experience seamless and simple. They were developed as part of Disney’s billion-dollar MyMagic+ interactive technology system and take customer engagement to a new level.
Let me tell you, if anyone knows omni-channel engagement, it’s Disney.
Inside each MagicBand is a microchip that acts as your interactive key to the parks. Your bracelet grants admission when you wave it over a ticketing reader at the park gate. It saves your place in line for attractions — that’s Fast Pass to you Disney veterans — and your reservations at restaurants. It can let you into your Disney hotel room, keep track of your pictures taken by park photographers, and be used as a charge card to make purchases. It even activates the Sorcerers of Magic Kingdom, an interactive game played at the park.
As someone who can’t even count the number of times my kids lost a hotel room key or FastPass ticket, I see how valuable MagicBands are in easing the stresses and hassles of a family vacation!
The magic behind MagicBands is Radio Frequency, or RF, technology. This is the same tech used with keyless car entries, credit cards, and wireless video game controllers. MagicBands also connect with Disney’s existing interactive software (website, mobile apps, etc.), creating a true omni-channel network.
I couldn’t help but think of ways this technology could be used to bring the customer experience together in many different industries:
track preferred customer programs
offer special discounts
make restaurant reservations
monitor pre-purchase or early-bird access
store patient identities/histories
grant approval for services/privileges
track process through the system
grant access to rooms
book reservations at local attractions
track loyalty programs
interact with kiosk software to bring up previous search histories
The sky’s truly the limit with this technology. And would you expect anything less from Disney? What other uses can you see for RF technology like this?
Monday, 21 April 2008
Criminals are constantly "upgrading" - enhancing their strategies and weapons for attacks on ATMs, among other channels. Companies wanting to thwart criminal attacks need to upgrade, too, with ingenious mechanical and electronic means of defense.
Security is booming. The segment is chalking up double-digit growth rates, mainly in the banking sector. However, this isn't surprising when we consider that no other industry is exposed to such refined and brutal attacks by criminals, and that no other depends so greatly for its success on the trust of its customers and the security of their assets.
In addition, those in charge at financial institutions face considerable personal consequences if they neglect bank security.
Today's branches tend to have only insignificant amounts of cash easily accessible in conventional teller cash drawers. For this reason, more and more attacks are directed at electronic and mechanical equipment at banks and savings banks.
The culprits are brutal, mobile and use increasingly refined tactics. At risk are primarily ATMs, IT systems, transport routes and data networks. Also critical is the dramatic rise in theft of cards and PIN data, which can be used for withdrawing money abroad.
The situation will not ease in the near future: More and more machines are being installed, and increasingly at off-premise and highly frequented locations. Moreover, storage volumes keep growing. State-of-the-art systems can hold 12,000 banknotes, and even that amount is on the rise.
Luckily, preventive measures are having an impact. But it is a race in which the criminal community has a head start, at least for now.
The trend toward manipulating ATMs, mainly by skimming PIN and card data, remains unbroken, despite refined protective measures.
For a long time, Germany was a target for most fraudsters. Credit cards normally used abroad for self-service transactions traditionally promised far greater gain for criminals. Losses from such attacks in Germany are only around one-tenth of the 95 million euros lost every year in the United Kingdom to card fraud.
Anti-skimming: mechanical and electronic protection
But Europe's push to EMV appears to be motivating criminals to train their sights more strongly on the Federal Republic of Germany. Industry estimates now suggest that ATMs play a role in about 15 percent of all cases of identity theft. Up to now, banks have shouldered the losses. Now the losses are too great for the banks to continue to bear the financial load.
A customer's PIN can be stolen using a commercially available mini-camera hidden in a fire alarm, light box or brochure rack. The card data can be read using a skimming device, with the captured data and PIN mailed or sent by mobile phone to another country, where the information is used to plunder a cardholder's account.
Such crime sprees can easily cause losses in the high six-digit range.
Several offerings can protect cardholders at the ATM, however.
Some institutions prefer mechanical defenses. Common anti-skimming card throats prevent skimming devices from being attached to ATMs. These new throats are designed so that they cannot be broken or cut out of the machine.
Those types of throats are popular in Germany. In other countries, financial institutions tend to rely more heavily on intelligent sensors located inside the card slot that do not alter the appearance of the ATM. These sensors monitor signs of manipulation and sound the alarm if anything has been altered.
ATM video surveillance
New criminal tricks have also helped bring about a revival in the cash-out camera, which complements surveillance with portrait and room cameras.
The tiny cash-out camera, positioned at the height of the output slot, has two functions. First, it records attempts by customers to defraud the bank by removing only part of a bundle of notes (causing the rest to be deposited in the reject tray). Second, it is an effective antidote to cash trapping, also known as reversal fraud.
With cash trapping, the output slot is obstructed so that customers making cash withdrawals cannot take their money. The trapped cash is then removed later by the criminal. Now with integrated image-recognition software, FIs are alerted as soon as an obstruction mechanism has been mounted on the ATM. The ATM is then shut down by the FI or operator.
But what about other types of scams, such as those that involve a group of fraudsters who work to distract an ATM user?
The remedy to that type of fraud is a security area around the ATM, one that is constantly monitored by a camera. If someone enters the zone, a warning appears on the ATM's screen. The customer can then assess the situation and decide whether to break off the transaction or complete it.
What about fraud that moves beyond the physical? Standard operating systems are gaining a growing foothold in network operations, meaning that ATM networks have become gateways that are easy to open, thus allowing criminals access to sensitive customer data. The result is a huge increase in the risk of unauthorized access.
Wincor Nixdorf, for instance, has developed virtual private networks that securely protect branches and host systems against data interception and internal misuse. Because it works on the principle that anything that is not explicitly permitted is forbidden, an attack, no matter how ingenious, cannot unfold.
A further step toward enhancing the security of transactions is the Secure Cash Out Procedure, which prevents cash from being withdrawn if there is an internal attack or if a trojan is infiltrated from the outside. Cash is dispensed only if data has been exchanged between the bank's host system and the cash-out application and the transaction has been approved.
Ink staining on the rise
FIs' and off-premise operators' ATMs in Germany and other countries are introducing ink staining (also called maculation) at the ATM. For a long time, this approach met with a lukewarm response; but an upswing in ATM violence has brought about a change of heart and provided the impetus for refinements in maculation technology.
The staining process can be triggered not only in response to blast waves or a change in location, but also if and when criminals weld open the rear panel of the ATM. Admittedly, the greatest protective effect offered by maculation is deterrence.
Stolen cash amounts are declining, and the number of attacks on branches and ATMs is stagnating in some areas. But theft activities are simply shifting to another stage. Cash-in-transit operators are targets more often than they were in the past. To combat that type of crime, locating systems based on mobile communications complements security mechanisms in cassettes, attaché cases and cash boxes.
Using GSM mobile phone technology, which has been introduced in more than 130 countries, a security center can precisely track criminals. If the microphone is activated remotely, security forces can even hear what the thieves are saying.
RFID chips: total control
Contactless radio frequency identification tags are expected to offer a new dimension of security. According to the latest RFID Report by consulting firm Eurospace, RFID technology will be used in marketing and distribution, as well as in tracking transports and vehicles.
The capabilities that RFID chips offer for logistics are being examined for the banking industry, since FIs and insurers want to pinpoint the location of the cash being transported. Errors in replenishment processes and the transportation of cash cassettes can practically be eliminated.
Wincor Nixdorf estimates that up to 2 percent of replenishment operations for cash cassettes are carried out incorrectly: The cash volume in the cassettes is recorded incorrectly, the cassettes are mixed up or the cash simply disappears en route.
Centrally monitoring the ATM network
Financial institutions should take proactive measures to protect their overall networks. To that end, they need to understand risk factors and revealing fraud patterns. For example, a certain number of aborted transactions may indicate that preparations for manipulation are under way.
Thieves, driven by their high level of criminal energy, are always a step ahead, however quickly the forces of law try to keep up with them.
Tuesday, 17 April 2007
In late March, I attended RFID World, held at the Gaylord Texan Resort near the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. The show is in its fifth year, and I began to see more parallels to the self-service and kiosk industry. Like kiosks, radio frequency identification (RFID) technology has been around for decades, but people still wonder when it is really going to take off.
With about 3,000 attendees and 200 exhibitors, it would appear RFID has arrived. The fact that Wal-Mart was not present was seen as a boost to the industry rather than a mark against it. Some said it proved that RFID can stand on its own.
While most of the show dealt with supply chain management, there were some areas of interactivity that were relevant to self-service.
Best Buy CEO Robert Willett was a keynote speaker, lending more validation to the industry. Willett talked about a “massive demand for personalization” and that Best Buy’s goal was to “co-create solutions together” with its customers.
“We believe RFID can make a tremendous difference,” Willett said.
Willett’s vision is to place an RFID tag on every single product in the store. In tests, RFID has enabled Best Buy employees to spend more time on the floor rather than stocking or looking for items. Willett also mentioned smart signs in the store where data from RFID-enabled smart shelves correlate sales to the store. Shopping assistance and check-out were two other areas that can be improved with RFID technology.
Future plans for the $30 billion electronics giant include an expansion of its pilot, an upgrade to Generation 2 tags, improvement of tag reads and exploration of ways to use RFID to improve the customer experience.
Following Willett was Kevin Ashton, vice president of ThingMagic. Ashton demonstrated advances in RFID reader technology, such as RFID tags that can be read inside a tin can, inside a glass of water and tracking a colleague’s movements around the ballroom using a Google Maps application. ThingMagic’s new reader is about the size of an iPod Nano.
Winners of the first RFID Excellence in Business Awards were announced at RFID World on March 27, prior to the conference keynote address.
Of note: Eugene, Oregon-based ADASA, Inc. was given the Excellence in RFID Technology Award for its low-cost, wearable, mobile encoder, the PAD3500, which supports the encoding of tags anywhere, anytime. The device works in conjunction with ADASA’s SmartCartridge, enabling the hands-free loading and encoding of RF tags. The solution has already demonstrated business value in a pilot with SSKA member Freedom Shopping, which reduced labor by as much as 50 percent.
Observations from the show floor:
Tyco Electronics was demonstrating its RF system by showing a Nike shoe and clothing item with an RFID tag that displayed product information on an interactive digital sign.
German company Atlantic Zeiser showed off its smart cards, tickets and bank notes.
France-based IER makes printers, gate readers and kiosks for airports. Matho Li, RFID R&D & marketing manager, told me that IER made the first CUSS-compliant kiosk for the British Airport Authority.
Avery Dennison makes the RFID item level tags for Freedom Shopping.
MediaCart exhibited its interactive shopping cart in ThingMagic’s booth. (See “Media Cart deploys smart shopping cart”)
EnvisionWare shared part of UPM Raflatac’s booth to display their library self-service kiosk, whereby you could check in, check out and pay fines – basically “anything to do with self-service in a library,” according to Michael Monk, VP marketing and business development.
“We took all the data from retail, airlines … and applied it to libraries,” Monk said. EnvisionWare has 4,500 library clients in the U.S. The kiosk, designed and manufactured by Anne Reid Technologies, is multi-lingual, has a bill acceptor, card reader and, of course, an RFID reader.
Precision Dynamics Corp. started out manufacturing RFID wristbands and then developed a kiosk at the request of Great Wolf Lodge (an indoor water park), who wanted to allow customers to load money onto the wristband. Since the wristbands are waterproof, this is a great way for guests to pay for items at concession stands without the need to carry a wallet or purse.
Another feature of the kiosks is a “family locator,” which allows members of a family to locate where other members last checked in. There are currently 10 kiosks in the field, according to Douglas Bourque, RFID market development manager, including the Jacksonville Suns baseball park.
RFID Revolution provides consulting and training on RFID.
“Our goal is to make it fun, show how it’s relevant,” said Leslie Downey, company founder. “We want to help end users find opportunities and assess risks RFID might pose.”
The firm has a new e-learning introductory course coming out called “RFID Essentials” which Downey said is intended to be “hands on, engaging and visually exciting.”
Tuesday, 10 April 2007
Despite a massive pollen dusting from the southern pines, one of the most beautiful areas in the country in April is North Carolina. It was no coincidence that SSKA Executive Director David Drain and I chose this time of year to visit the Tar Heel State, which also happens to be a hotbed for self-service technology.
IBM, Research Triangle Park, N.C. — Our first meeting was with IBM in its Triangle Park complex, which is where the popular Anyplace kiosk is developed. We began by meeting with Juhi Jotwani, director of marketing and strategy for retail, who believes that the future of self-service in all industries is bright.
“If anyone thinks they have all the answers, they’re completely wrong,” Jotwani said. “But self-service is a high growth environment and we think it is the right industry to invest in.”
IBM Marketing Manager Bruce Rasa led us through one of IBM’s self-service development labs and later into its Executive Briefing Center, where IBM has set up mock retail stores to demonstrate new self-service technology using the Anyplace kiosk.
Joining us on our tour of IBM was Carrie Reuben from SmartVista Technologies. Her company specializes in designing software for educational programs using kiosks, and is a reseller of IBM’s Anyplace kiosk.
ArcaTech Systems, Mebane, N.C. – Located in tiny Mebane (rhymes with “heaven”), ArcaTech is a company of 35 employees that specializes in the integration of cash automation machines for financial institutions and retail outfits. Its cash dispensers and currency recyclers, like those used in ATM systems, act as safes that recognize, count and dispense currency of all denominations. ArcaTech has over 200 OEM customers and supplies bill dispensers to IBM for self-checkout.
SAS Institute, Cary, N.C. – How much would you pay for yesterday’s newspaper? Not much, right? Now, how much is tomorrow’s paper worth? – That’s how Michael Penwell of SAS describes the goal of the company’s business analytics software. Penwell, applications developer of video
communications and new media, took us on a tour of two SAS TV studios used for recording webcasts and promotions to be aired on its BetterManagement.com website.
Michael Penwell of SAS points out the features of their marketing kiosk.
SAS is the largest privately held software company with an annual revenue of $2 billion, half of which comes from outside of the US.
SAS has deployed 12 kiosks in its office buildings that serve mainly as marketing tools. It also use these kiosks during trade shows and run a digital signage network with similar marketing intentions.
ESP, Zebulon, N.C. – Electronic Systems Protection manufactures a critical kiosk component that is often overlooked by deployers: a power filter.
“Power filters are a staple in the office supply industry, but haven’t caught on with kiosk deployers yet,” said Mike Honkomp, director of new market development. Honkomp says regular surge protectors aren’t enough to protect kiosk units from damage caused by power spikes or lightning, not to mention electrical noise that can cause computers to freeze up like our home PCs. Power spikes can also come through phone lines and Ethernet cables, which are commonly hooked up to kiosks.
ESP has worked with Olea, Dekko and other kiosk manufacturers who have integrated ESP power filters into its kiosk systems. A 62-employee company, ESP does all of their manufacturing in-house.
David Perrotta of demostrates the soldering process for ESP's circuit boards.
Meridian Kiosks, Aberdeen, N.C. – Upon entering its showroom in the North Carolina Sandhills, I noticed Meridian’s sleek Monarch kiosk looked very familiar. And it was. I had seen it the previous day in SAS’s lobby.
Meridian president Chris Gilder admits his company is laying low and spending time on development rather than advertising, however, Meridian’s kiosks have been used by Mazda, Shop to Cook and Red Bull. Meridian is now showing its DS-42p, a 42-inch vertical touchscreen kiosk.
Like the sleek DS-42p and Monarch kiosks, Meridian believes simpler is better when it comes to design, for many reasons.
“A lot of kiosks are over-designed,” Gilder said. “By doing our own in-house fabrication, we’ve been able to design out some of the cost.”
Meridian's DS-42p kiosk with interactive touchscreen.
Gilbarco, Greensboro, N.C. – As one of the leading manufacturers of gas pumps, Gilbarco became one of the pioneers of self-service when it introduced pay-at-the-pump in the late ‘70s. After 30 years of encouraging pay-at-the-pump, convenience stores are finding they are losing revenue on food and other in-store products from people not entering the store. After recently acquiring Intermedia Kiosks, a self-ordering provider for foodservice, Gilbarco is working on new promotional ideas through its outdoor pay-at-the-pump systems.
Freedom Shopping, Hickory, N.C. – Freedom Shopping stood out as being a company whose entire interest exists on the cusp of future kiosk technology. It creates RFID-powered mini-marts that can allow customers to check out in as little as six seconds.
Designed for use in hotels and cafeterias, the mini-marts feature products tagged with RFID sensors that are instantly rung up when placed in front of a check-out kiosk. In hotels, customers can enter their name and room number and be settled up in a matter of seconds. For other applications, the kiosk features a bill acceptor and card reader.
For the retailer, Freedom Shopping has created a remote-managed back-end that aids in inventory and promotions. Freedom Shopping can also access this area to provide up-to-the-second maintenance. For end-users, the touchscreen features a “Live Help” button that cuts out the middle-men and connects them directly to tech support at the Hickory headquarters.
Source Technologies, Charlotte, N.C. – Our final stop was Source Technologies, a company that began by making bank printers and has expanded into financial self-service. Source integrates their printers and check scanners into their 3, 5, and 7 product lines of advanced financial services kiosks. Like BMW, each series is larger with more bells and whistles.
Glen Fossella, GM of controlled-print solutions, says Source is striving to standardize financial services kiosks, much like our PCs have standard components and standard operating systems. The goal is to be able to offer a low cost, off-the-shelf kiosk solution that may be quickly deployed.
Source also demonstrated its interactive kiosk planning program, which can be found on their website. As Engineering Manager Kevin Kennedy explained, the program goes beyond general help, providing 10 steps containing specific questions about integration, components, and even color. The end result is a customized kiosk idea that can be sent to Source’s developers.
Monday, 07 August 2006
Another columnist kindly responded to my last question: Why don’t we convert price checkers into self-checkout terminals in store aisles? Read his answer in a moment. First, read this month’s question.
For years we’ve been told that RFID, also known as radio frequency identification, is about to permeate the market. But is RFID ready for widespread deployment? While a lot of optimism surrounds the technology, there are some concerns.
At a recent security conference in Las Vegas, a graduate student demonstrated the ability to steal data from RFID tags that companies have said could only be cracked by their proprietary readers. The researcher, Melanie Rieback of Vrije University in The Netherlands, and her helpers promised to make public the schematic and computer code for building a portable device that reads RFID codes and tags.
She calls it the RFID Guardian, on the premise that a person can use it to monitor the RFID chips carried on his or her person – in passports and the like. Another way to consider it might be as the RFID Assailant, if one uses it to snag data from other people’s RFID chips.
Rieback is far from the first scholar to crack a code. When a team of researchers cracked the DES code used to encrypt ATM data, they spent almost $250,000 and three days computing 88 billion different code combinations needed to crack the single encryption standard– a much grander undertaking than the handheld box Rieback’s team can use to scan RFID chips without the owners’ consent. (Triple DES is the remedy.)
Rieback also takes credit for writing the first RFID virus: a code that when written onto an RFID tag can make its way through middleware and infect a database. Since the same database is accessed when making and reading tags, all new tags would contain the infected code, if the database is breached.
A vice president for one of the world’s biggest RFID innovators told me that item-by-item RFID tracking is not likely to be adopted by retailers because it’s too expensive.
Retailers frequently talk about the 5-cent RFID tag: Once RFID tags cost a nickel each, it could be feasible to put them on everything, just like price tags. For now, however, retailers still quibble over the price.
So, I ask you to tell me – is RFID ready for widespread deployment? E-mail me your answer: .
The answer to last month’s question.
Wirespring columnist Bill Gerba kindly used his column to respond to mine last month:
“…for any kind of in-the-aisle checkout system. Small specialty retailers wouldn't seem to need the extra checkout locations, and department stores already use scattered checkout stations (or sales reps) as a means to scan and de-badge purchased merchandise. So, limiting the argument to just grocers and the big-box guys, there would appear to be (at least) three critical factors that must be addressed before in-the-aisle checkout could ever take off...”
To read his reasoning, click here.