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I hope my doctor isn’t reading this…..My morning commute to work involves me passing a Subway store.  As I have the Subway card (500 points and you get a free 6 inch sub, or £50 for a sandwich) I’ll use it pretty regularly to get the points. My breakfast is pretty much like clockwork, a 6 inch white sausage bacon and egg sub.  Simple, nothing on it.

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The point of sale (POS) system uses an internet connection back to a server to add the points.  The interesting fact though happened when I walked in one day and they didn’t have white bread.  Now let’s remember, I’m English and quite set in my ways (Corn Flakes, THEN THE SUGAR, then the milk) so for someone to run out of white bread I’ll not really go for anything else, I like my routine.  It gave me opportunity to ask a few questions though and the big surprise for me, the POS doesn’t take into account the bread that’s being purchased.  It knows the name of the sub, cost etc but not what type of bread is being used.Worse case scenario is that the manager over makes on a type of bread that will not sell. This leads to wastage.  If you can track the bread then you can start reducing overheads against a period of time.And the perception on the customer is bad, I don’t really like the taste of the other breads. So I have the option of getting second best or coming back (by which time I’m at work so it’s too late).  Subway has less that 2 minutes to get my attention and it all starts with white bread.  The can then compound to me not returning the next day under the perception that the store might not have the bread in stock again.Ultimately, if Subway could track the bread type transactions they’d potentially save money in the long run and keep the customer happy.Points loyalty systems are pretty useless unless there is some correlation between the requirements of the customer and the knowledge of the retailer.  It’s one of the main reasons that the Tesco Clubcard works so well and the Sainsbury Nector card doesn’t.  One can do something with the data and the other can’t.  WalMart/Asda look through transactional data from the POS to find changes and patterns based on location and date.Getting the data is easy once you have seriously defined what data you want, then what you are wanting to gain from mining that data.  An exchage of points for fractional money value is all very well but you don’t really learn anything from your customers.

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