Loyalty RealTime Buys Data Central, Wants POS Lead

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Keeping true to its vow to grow its services through acquisitions, Loyalty RealTime acquired Data Central U.S. Inc. yesterday. Data Central's point-of-sale (POS) technology will help the company better establish a presence among small to mid-sized businesses -- a segment it has ignored in the past.

"So many companies have called us over the years looking for services we provide, but they were too small and we were too expensive," said Rick Barlow, CEO of Loyalty RealTime's parent company, Frequency Marketing Inc., Cincinnati. Frequency Marketing, a traditional relationship marketing provider, launched Loyalty RealTime, LLC, in December. This new division is dedicated to offering real time loyalty rewards using POS, Web and satellite technology.

Data Central fits snugly into Loyalty RealTime's mission statement as it uses POS technology to award customers when they make a transaction at restaurants, hospitality and retail industries. Typically, Data Central does this by presenting loyalty memberships, which can be as small as 5,000 people, with a membership card that is swiped whenever they make a transaction. The member's receipt presents them with their current point balance. If a member has earned enough points for a reward, such as $10 off their next purchase, a $10 certificate is printed on the receipt itself.

"It is a powerful, but simple, shrink-wrapped loyalty solution that we can present to smaller businesses," said Barlow. "It is instantaneous. It doesn't rely on traditional point statements that typically take two to four months to receive." This technology is basically replacing old-school bonus programs like the traditional punchcard, where 10 holes equal a free sandwich, commonly used at delis. "Millions of small businesses want to get on the loyalty bandwagon, but they are using awkward and less effective means," said Barlow.

This technology does by no means just appeal to small businesses; as at the time of acquisition, the Data Central was testing programs with such major fast food chains as McDonalds and Subway. Frequency Marketing, which began by running a traditional loyalty program for Sheraton frequent-stay customers, insists this is only the beginning of the acquisitions.

"We want to interact with the customer across all point of sales, from the Internet to the check-out counter," said Barlow. "We're taking the lead in this territory. We believe POS will break out of those two dimensions, and people will be shopping in their cars and on airplanes, wherever there's a connection with data. [We want to be there] in real time to tell them what they earned and what they can redeem it for."

The details of the transaction were not available at press time.

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