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Hypermarket chain REAL, part of Metro Group, teamed up with IBM to launch a new electronic coupon system throughout its 320 German stores.
The digital coupon system, developed with IBM Research scientists, enables consumers to use their mobile phones to find and redeem e-coupons as they shop in stores.
REAL hypermarkets, which sell about 80,000 items, from food to electrical appliances to clothing, already conducts the largest coupon program in Germany through the company's "Payback" program. It cites customer loyalty programs such as Payback as an important part of its business strategy in the highly competitive retail markets the company serves.
"In essence, we are simplifying and improving the coupon redemption process," said Bernd Hasenbank, head of point of sale solutions at Duesseldorf , germany-based REAL.
REAL's coupon program enables in-store Payback members to use their mobile phones to browse online coupons as they walk through the aisles. Shoppers can choose their favorite coupons from the REAL homepage or a Payback app on their smartphones. Within a maximum of 500 milliseconds, the system confirms their choice and transfers an eCoupon to the store's "3V - Value Voucher Validation" coupon system in real time. To redeem the eCoupon, customers display their Payback membership card upon check-out and the transaction is processed automatically.
For REAL, the electronic system offers a more personalized view of customers and the option to change coupon distribution in real time. Promotions can respond more flexibly to seasonal changes or fashion fads to appeal to ever-changing consumer tastes.
"In the era of Big Data, consumers expect a superior retail experience – which puts pressure on retailers to deliver hyper-personalized services," said Falk Nieder, consultant at IBM Global Business Services. "REAL's e-couponing system demonstrates that retailers can deliver timely and customized coupons so that marketing feels more like a welcomed service."
REAL expects that it will be receiving several hundred thousand eCoupon queries and eCoupon redemptions per day at the cash registers of it 320 stores. That is not an easy task for the underlying information technology architecture with a central server.
The new 3V coupon system at REAL is based on existing IBM solutions at METRO Group, which are compliant with the EPC Information Services Standard (EPCIS) of EPCglobal. The system is based on IBM InfoSphere Traceability Server, a high-performance data storage device, that was developed to manage and analyze large amounts of data, integrate master data systems and provide data in real-time for internal and external applications.