Friendly's Ice Cream launches online ordering system, loyalty program

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Friendly's Ice Cream has launched an online ordering system in its home market of Springfield, Mass., and plans to roll out a revamped loyalty program this summer, said Richard Del Valle, VP of restaurant operations support at the restaurant chain. For both launches, Friendly's will use technologies from MICROS Systems, a provider of e-commerce solutions for the hospitality and retail industries.

Del Valle anticipates these developments will help Friendly's better serve consumers by marketing more directly to their needs. The card-based loyalty program, powered by MICROS iCare Consumer Relationship Management, will be fully rolled out to Friendly's stores by midsummer, Del Valle said. “This is actually an evolution for a program that we've had in place for three years called Best Friends of Friendly's, or BFF, which started out as an email loyalty program,” he said, describing the early program as “basic email marketing.”

When Friendly's decided to evolve to a more sophisticated solution, the restaurant chain used MICROS tools to broaden the loyalty program. Friendly's has an existing relationship with the vendor, whose technology already powers many of the electronic services at Friendly's. “We can now incent (customers) differently and we can react to things that they've done,” said Del Valle. “The loyalty program is intended to reach out to our existing guests to get them to use Friendly's in different ways. It's also designed to go out and get guests who normally would not have used us.”

Additionally, Friendly's currently is piloting MICROS webOrdering in four Friendly's locations in Massachusetts; as with the new loyalty program, Del Valle anticipates a full roll out by midsummer.

By introducing online ordering, Friendly's hopes to target missing demographics such as young, tech-savvy consumers and on-the-go consumers who might only have time to drive up to the restaurant and pick up food, said Del Valle.

To use the online ordering system users must sign up for an account before placing an online order, explained Dave Hoffman, director of consumer solutions at MICROS. This allows Friendly's to target first-time online buyers with coupons and track shoppers' “favorite” items, he added.

“The only way (Friendly's) can track unique first-time orders is by having consumers sign up for an account,” said Hoffman. “They can tell whether you've placed one or 50 orders with them.” An additional benefit added Hoffman is that Friendly's can target customers with relevant promotions and coupons.

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