A new smartphone app developed by Wellington's Boost New Media using beacon technology will allow shoppers to rake up loyalty points at cafes without juggling a wad of half-stamped cards.
The coffee Royalty app works by detecting small beacons, positioned at point of sale in the cafe or store.
When a customer enters and opens the app on their iPhone the beacon recognises the customer and shows the store's brand and the customer's virtual loyalty card.
To add another stamp to their loyalty card the customer touches the phone to the beacon.
The app will be launched in VicBooks cafe at Victoria University in Wellington today.
Nathan Donaldson, founder and director of the web development company, said the "Royalty" app detects a customer's location in the shop, acting as a virtual loyalty card.
The beacons, imported from the United States, cost about $50 each and the app would be free for consumers.
Donaldson said privacy was not an issue as consumers needed to opt in by downloading the app.
The app automatically collected information about a person's location, not who they were, he said.
However, eventually retailers would be able to customise apps using the technology so customers could enter personal information if they wanted offers to be further tailored to them, Donaldson said.
This was the first time the technology had been used in New Zealand, he added.
So far, major league baseball in the US and Macy's department store had rolled out apps using the same technology, he said.
Donaldson said the wireless beacon technology would eventually allow retailers to connect with customers in a number of ways.
Alongside the launch of Royalty, Boost was talking to four undisclosed chains that were interested in the broader beacon technology, he said.
Chris Wilkinson of retail consultancy First Retail Group said the beacons could offer a number of features.
For example, in a big store the beacons could help shoppers find their way to specific products.
They could also be used as a customer service tool, alerting staff that a shopper needs assistance, Wilkinson said.
Smartphone apps using the beacon technology would engage shoppers with bricks and mortar stores again, he said.
"The appetite from retailers is there."