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Retailer Tape à l'Oeil Finds Success With Contactless Loyalty Cards

The system enables French consumers to receive and redeem discounts on purchases via NFC RFID stickers that can be attached to cell phones.
By Claire Swedberg
Dec 14, 2009As a transitional bridge toward the adoption of cell phones with built-in Near Field Communication (NFC) RFID technology, one French retailer has launched what it views as an easy and low-cost introduction to just what NFC-enabled phones can offer consumers. Since April of this year, French children's clothing retailer Tape à l'Oeil has been providing its customers with a loyalty card containing an adhesive RFID sticker that they can then apply to their mobile phones, in order to receive discounts at the company's 130 stores. The loyalty-card solution, developed by Adelya, uses RFID chips and interrogators from Inside Contactless.

"The main objective of Tape à l'Oeil was to create a new type of customer relationship with more interactivity, more freedom and more impact," says a spokesperson for the retailer, who asked to remain unnamed. The company wanted a system that moved beyond a traditional loyalty card that customers must store in their wallets, the spokesperson explains.

The TAO Le Club loyalty card contains an RFID sticker that can be attached to a cell phone.
Most industry watchers predict that it will be several years before NFC handsets become commonly available to European consumers. Carloman Grelu, Inside Contactless' EMEA sales engineer, expects to see strong market penetration beginning in 2012. While this system does not allow payments with the NFC-enabled stickers, Grelu says, it might do so in the future. However, he notes, there are no specific plans for the technology to be used in that way yet.

The sticker, manufactured by FCI Microconnections, contains a PicoPass NFC-based passive 13.56 MHz RFID chip that comes with a unique ID number encoded to its 2 kilobits of memory. A customer can sign up for a TAO Le Club card online, or at any Tape à l'Oeil store, by paying a €3 ($4.39) annual membership fee. The card, which includes a peel-off sticker containing the RFID tags, comes in a box with instructions regarding which types of discounts the card provides (such as accrued points based on the amount of money spent at the store), as well as how to use it.

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