Frequent shopper programs give customers the ability to redeem their loyalty points for high end gift items. The program will give system loyal customers motivation to frequent the business. For this objective to be realized, a system is required at each and every store. The system will be integrated with customer details of all the frequent shoppers by tracking their purchases. As purchases are made, loyalty points are accumulated which can be redeemed for high end gifts.
This paper will describe the technical concepts of developing a new system that develops customer loyalty while tracking customer behavior. The new system involves hardware platforms, network connections, software development tools, database information, user interfaces, controls, and security measures.
The new system will be used in a number of locations consisting of the same hardware platforms. Each of the remote sites will be configured to use the same resources and perform the same functions of tracking and keeping customer loyalty.
The following components are required;
- Novell 4.11 Server for POS
- 4 POS PIV WIN 7 terminals
- Ethernet cable 10.1.50.1
- Uninterruptible Power Supply
- PIV 64 RAM WIN 7 with Office 2007 server connected to a jet printer and a DVD Writer
- 3G broadband internet access
- Bar code system
Internet connection needs to be set up at the location to provide sufficient bandwidth to enable seamless operations at the stores. This is crucial because the point of sale service at the store should not be interrupted due to low internet connectivity. In order for customers to frequent the stores, there should be sufficient processing capacity to enable numerous operations talking place.
The current POS system will be able to track frequent customers at the store through a barcode system. The bar code system is customized to meet the current operations.
Frequent Shopper Program needs to be configured in the headquarters as well as the remote locations for easy file sharing. A database of all the shoppers will be kept and frequenting shopper’s details need to be updated in real time Cybul et al (2002).
VPN is a combination of software and hardware components that permits employees, telecommuters, business partners and remote business branches to utilize the same company resources as those in the headquarters through a secure private connection with a host network. When implemented, ESI employees all over the globe will access the company resources through virtual private connections deployed across the internet.
VPN provides advanced connectivity between disparate organizations branches over the Internet. The site-to-site connections and the ability to transfer data faster than WANs make it more preferable in instances such as this.
The software development process will factor fundamental principles. These include planning, designing, development, review, testing and implementation. Methods such as agile development models are used. Agile development models comprise of highly iterative processes that shares the steps of traditional development concepts. The development team is in constant communication with the users or customers. The method is based on quick and nimble de3velopment processes that easily adapts to changes leading to rapid development iterations. One of agile new methods is Extreme Programming.
Microsoft Azure is the preferred database management system used in this scenario. The software development team will be responsible for adding new tables and queries to the database to ensure efficient functioning of the Frequent Shopper Program with the barcode scanners. The software will undergo testing processes to ensure that the barcode system is integrated to work well with the database. Each item scanned should be sent to the correct tables and updated accordingly. Online purchases functionality will be integrated in the system to allow for updating of online transactions Lal, (2003).
This is made possible through the use of an ERD. ERDs are used to represent logical relationships between entities. Using an entity relationship data model, abstract schemas are designed and denoted with various entities.
ERDs provide an overall view and blueprint of how the system represents physical data structures. In drawing an ERD, the entities identified during the system analysis stage are linked together to show a logical relationship. Example of an ERD is as shown;
Fig. 1 ERD
In order to attain usability, a simple to use user interface will be developed. A GUI will be user friendly to the eye for both staff and online shoppers. Customers will be able to access the system by inputting their ID details and receive feedback conveniently through mail or printouts.
A Frequent Shopper Program card will be issued to customers after registration with the program. Once issued, a customer is required to produce it during every purchase. The main control with the card is that it should accurately capture customer information and track and update the buying behavior accordingly. The card will also keep inventory of how much products is moving through each location.
VPN Internet Protocol security IPSec is one complete, safe and commercial feature developed to aid the transportation of data. In a VPN network, the data is segmented such that the intended recipient receives the data alone. Encryption technologies are used abundantly to safeguard the passage of data across the network. The implementation of IPSec based VPN, for instance in the organization will enhance the networks resistance to data attackers, tampering or theft. Implementing the VPN through the internet will add safety, interoperability between the individual ESI branches as well as quick and efficient services. Above all, it will empower organization to extend their network services to all branches and remote partners and suppliers Schultz, (1991).
Smith will develop a Frequent Shopper Program from scratch through a number of well planned and designed stages. Software testing is crucial for each stage of development to ensure that the resultant system is highly effective.
Cybul, R., Szabo, R., & Toohey, J. (2002). Method for managing a frequent shopper program at an e-commerce site and an in-store site. US Patent 6,415,261.
Lal, R., & Bell, D. (2003). The impact of frequent shopper programs in grocery retailing. Quantitative Marketing and Economics.
Schultz, J., & Irion, D. (1991). Automated purchase reward accounting system and method. US Patent 5,056,019.