Revel Systems and Index are partnering to bring the kind of personalized consumer messaging that's common in e-commerce to the countertops of retail stores.

Revel sells tablet point of sale systems, and Index provides mobile technology and analysis for customer relationship management.

"Today, shopping in the real physical world is void of preferences. Retailers know that they're growing sales, but they don't easily know if it's more business from existing customers or new customers," says Marc Freed-Finnegan, co-founder and CEO of Index.

Index's software ties to Revel's point of sale devices to combine shopping data from physical, online and mobile channels. Revel hosts the technology, which merchants access via their iPads as a Web service.

Consumers who opt into Index's system can receive personalized recommendations, similar to what they would see on an e-commerce site. Store staff can access customer information on Revel's tablet system to better inform the upselling already done by Index's technology engine, Freed-Finnegan says.

"If the user experience isn't good for the staff person at the point of sale, it won't be good for the consumer," Freed-Finnegan says.

Index's technology provides analysis of anonymous debit and credit card activity at a store, thus providing insight into aggregate sales. Index asks consumers to provide an email address which is then linked to the consumer's account with the store.

Index also uses Wi-Fi and GPS to allow consumers to "check in" to a store, and it has plans to support the Bluetooth-based iBeacon location technology. Consumers can access their accounts at the point of sale using a customer-facing iPad. Index's system can deliver customized messages on the countertop iPad or through the shopper's mobile device. "You're basically welcomed back to the store and get a note about a perk for that day," Freed-Finnegan says.

One early customer, Cako Bakery in San Francisco, uses the combined technology to greet consumer as they enter the store and suggest cupcake flavors based on prior purchases. The bakery did not make a representative available for comment by deadline.

Index is among a growing number of e-commerce providers, including eBay and Oink, which are moving their technology to brick-and-mortar stores to take advantage of channel convergence. Other companies such as shopkick are using similar location-based technology to personalize marketing.

"Leveraging transaction data is certainly one of the big possibilities for payments. Being able to offer the right product at the right time to the right customer, driven by purchase history and delivered all seamlessly at the transaction point, is a big opportunity," says James Wester, a research director at IDC Financial Insights. "So it's a great add-on to a point of sale system."

There are some risks to the model, Wester says.

"Consumers may be wary of providing data and being tracked," he says. "It's no longer a seamless experience for consumers if they have to opt in, and consumers are more aware than ever that opting in has a potential downside."

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