drpellypo

Software/hardware for customer database with smart cards

15 posts in this topic

Hello fellow TSN'ers. I'm wondering if anybody can point me in the right direction here. Perhaps I'm googling wrong but I'm struggling to find answers from it.

A friend of mine owns a tanning salon. It's a very simple business model - people come in, pay £2.50 per 5 minutes, are handed a token to put in a machine which turns the bed on for that amount of time. People also have the option of buying a 'book' of prepayed 5 minute blocks. These books have tear-off pieces of paper, each representing 5 minutes time on the bed and are exchanged for a token the same way cash is.

Customer records at present are hand written cards, thousands of them, stored in a filing cabinet.

She's asked me to come up with an IT based solution for her. My idea is that, rather than a book with tear off strips, a customer wishing to purchase minutes in advance, is given a smart card. Each time they swipe the card, the person on the front desk selects how many minutes they want, and this is deducted from their 'account' linked to their card. This solution also means that the salon can hold customer records tied to the persons smart card, and I suspect it will be a cheaper solution in terms of regular customers (each of the books she sells cost her 40p to have printed.)

So ideally what I am looking for is a very basic database system than can talk to a smart card reader and the smart card be either programmed on the fly to reflect minutes left, or the database does this job. Can anybody suggest an all-in-one package to do this and give an idea of cost?

Thanks!

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This might seem an odd question, but...

 

Why not just have the database without the smart card?

 

It sounds like the issue is the manual recording keeping.  Why increase her costs (which it will, dramatically) by using smart cards? 

 

I am firmly of the opinion that some businesses, especially small retail/service outlets, can often over complicate matters for an issue that tends to have a much simpler solution available.

 

She needs a database.  Why does she need cards?

Edited by NewNiceMrMe

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p.s. there is no way in this world that a 40p book is going to be more expensive than a smart card system.  Not even close.

 

Here is why...

 

Smart cards get lost.

Smart cards break/get corrupted.

Smart card readers cost money.

Smart cards cost money (and the basic cost you'll see isn't the same as the cost when they're branded)

 

Without wishing to offend (I do mean that), saying "I suspect it'll be cheaper" isn't much good to a small business owner.  It either is cheaper or it isn't cheaper.  "Suspect" would have me running a mile away.

 

It sounds like a sledgehammer to crack a nut to me.+++

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Laptop or PC, Excel (or Access if you want a proper database?) - job done?

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Good points raised!

The problem with the current system is:

Every time someone buys a book it costs 40p. Most people buy several books per year. A smart card would be 'for life' and have a one off setup cost, instead of the repeated costs of having the books printed.

The books are also subject to fraud, because they are simply pieces of paper and easily printed at home.

The books don't tie up with the customer, so there's no way to see how much money each person is spending.

The staff have very very limited IT skills. My idea of the smart card would mean the card is scanned, essentially making data input automatic.

I'm taking all your points above though. I've iust been asked to do something. Didn't come up with the idea :)

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Out of interest, how many books does she get through in, say, a month or a year?

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Laptop or PC, Excel (or Access if you want a proper database?) - job done?

She was looking for something that had more of a GUI. Something her relatively IT illiterate staff could use. It's not so much the database that's the requirement. It's more the smart card integration.

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Out of interest, how many books does she get through in, say, a month or a year?

In the region of 3,500 a year, so about £1,500 cost.

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Okay, so we have a lot more information to work with now. +++

 

Magstripe based cards can be bought for about £0.05 each in minimum orders of 500, so that's cheap enough in theory at £25.

 

However, that is the equivalent of 62 of the 40p books and you've got to have the machine to program them to begin with and the software to manage them - then you've got to integrate the card use into a bespoke written software system that is easy for IT illiterate people to use.

 

If the business owner wants it, that's different.  I appreciate that you're more in a mode of giving them what they want.

 

If I was you, I'd tell her it is going to cost thousands - because it will when you factor in the time you're going to have to spend on it.

 

Or......

 

Forget the cards.

 

Tell her to subscribe to a system already written and get a fingerprint reader.  There goes all your identity/fraud issues and nobody has to carry anything (except their fingers):

 

Tanning salon system with fingerprint ID

 

It says it logs customer minutes, everything.

£60 a month plus the cost of the fingerprint reader initially (I have no idea how much that is) and that is all the software online, iPad accessible etc.

 

I'll send you an invoice for my time. :roflmao:

Edited by NewNiceMrMe

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We used to have a tanning salon (we acquired the lease on a shop that belonged to a rival firm we bought out so thought we might as well put it to use).

We did what MrMe suggests above, only without the finger print reader, the system we used did actually give each customer a branded card, wish I could remember the name of the system we used as that might actually be helpful to you, but it was a fair few years ago.

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If you look online there is a mass of loyalty card options that might achieve the same thing.

 

The fingerprint option is certainly the easiest though and the only one that gets rid of the risk of fraud and card loss/corruption.

 

Maybe she should wait until the bring out sunbeds with retina scanning built in?  :roflmao:

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Lol thanks for the advice so far guys. I'd never actually thought of fingerprint tech. The only issue with that is sometimes people share the books with friends/family. Losses of cards is no issue as she can just charge people for replacements.

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The only issue with that is sometimes people share the books with friends/family.

That's the point, you want to stop people doing that, anyone that wants a tan is still going to get one, it's not expensive so they'll have to cough up themselves rather than use someone else's.

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