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IBeacon signals enhanced loyalty opportunities for San Francisco Soup Co.

San Francisco Soup Company, the Bay Area’s quick service soup, salad and sandwich chain, claims to be the first restaurant to use iBeacon technology to automatically identify loyalty program members with Bluetooth-enabled smartphones when they are nearby or enter a location.

The customized mobile-based guest rewards program implements Punchh’s Mobile CRM platform to deliver diners the ability to earn loyalty points, redeem rewards, find locations and receive news and offers through their mobile devices. In turn, SF Soup will gather customer data to help the company understand its fans better and precision-market to them directly.

“In an April 24, 2014 Forrester report, chief marketing officers must use technology to build affinity with their customers,” said Jitendra Gupta, CEO of Punchh, Sunnyvale, CA. “With more than 65 percent of customers using smartphones, customers expect engagement and interaction through their mobile devices, wherever they do business.

“In turn they expect to be rewarded for their patronage, and Punchh makes it easy for SF Soup to know its customers, enhance their dining experiences, and reward them for their loyalty.”

Souper savvy
Knowing customers are in the area will allow SF Soup to send personalized offers to patrons in real-time. Once inside, more intimate prompts can be initiated.

The Punchh platform will also enable SF Soup to reward customers for loyalty, word of mouth and referrals; deliver daily soup notifications when customers’ favorite soups are being served; and tailor offers to each customer based on spend, visits and order preferences.

“Some retailers use iBeacon to push tailored offers to shoppers in their stores,” Mr. Gupta said.  “Restaurants using the Punchh Mobile CRM platform, already know their customers preferences. “With the addition of iBeacon, operators can make the dining experience even more personal,” he said.

In addition to more than 80 soup recipes in its lineup, including a host of vegetarian, low-fat, dairy-free, low-carb and gluten-free options, San Francisco Soup will serve up a mobile app launching in June at select stores for both iOS and Android devices.

Not just for retail
Since launch, iBeacon technology has focused on benefitting retailers and upping in-store experiences. However the technology has a much broader range of potential for more consumer-facing innovations, especially in the dining sector.

Eggcellent, a Tokyo restaurant that specialized in egg cuisine was the host location for a concept restaurant of the future, Mirai Resu, which encompassed smartglasses, augmented reality, gesture interfaces, customer face identification, avatars, seamless wireless payments and more.

A teaser in late March involved iBeacon to increase the precision of location detection from store-to-store level to individual tables. Each table donned a Bluetooth-enabled beacon and pushed a menu app onto a diner’s mobile device.

A digitally equipped concept restaurant, Mirai Resu in Tokyo

From there, guests could peruse the menu, see what friends “Liked” in the past and place an order. Through iBeacon, payments were also processed whenever a visit was complete by tapping a billing feature and sliding to pay.

While polished levels of such technology use have not been officially reached, the concepts are very real attempts at what might in store for the diner of the future, whether it has been ordered or not.

“Both Punchh and SF Soup Company are based in the Bay Area, which is known for technology innovation and excellent and diverse dining experiences,” Mr. Gupta said. “The combination signals what’s possible and in store for restaurants worldwide.

“Customers can expect a better dining experience and more value,” he said. “Using iBeacon is the most current way restaurant operators can know their customers.  They can know their history and recognize them when they enter the restaurant.”

Final Take:
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York