By Ed Oswald | Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 12:10 pm
As a way to generate return visits, more and more retailers are developing loyalty card programs. There’s just one problem with this: after awhile, the consumer is carrying possibly dozens of the things, and they easily get lost. I know I frequently never have the right one when I need it, or just forget altogether to bring it in the first place.
Cupertino-based Mobeam saw a potential market here and has capitalized on it by creating the Nümi Key, a keychain device that includes a patented LED system which “beams” the loyalty card information into a checkout scanner in a readable format. Altogether, the device holds about 50 different barcodes.
Using the device is as simple as using the navigation buttons to find the store’s loyalty card, pointing the device at the barcode scanner, and pressing the red button in the center. As long as the store uses a laser checkout scanner, it will work, at least in theory.
Nümi could also hold coupon and gift card data as well, however Mobeam said that it will not enable the offering until it has partnerships with retailers. I’d guess this is to prevent obvious cases where fraud could come into play.
To add loyalty cards to the device, the Nümi Key is connected by USB to a Windows computer, and the user surfs to a special site. From there, the user selects the retailer and enters the membership card number. The service supports about 55 retailers with plans to add additional ones in the future.
One thing that I found a shame about the Nümi was the fact that it’s Windows only. This is due to the configuration website using ActiveX and Interner Explorer in order to connect to the device. Mobeam says a version for Mac is on its way but gave no specific timeframe.
I’ve got a review unti of a Nümi Key, and will give it a test. I’ll post my experiences on my twitter feed (@edoswald). That said, if you don’t want to wait Mobeam is currently selling the device on Amazon.com for $34.95.