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Subway Launches Wi-Fi Loyalty Program

Sandwich chain Subway is testing a link between its loyalty program and access to its in-store Wi-Fi – and it’s trying out the new approach in some places that aren’t accustomed to being mobile technology guinea pigs.

Under a deal with Turnstyle Solutions, a Toronto-based company that specializes in monetizing Wi-Fi installations, customers in some Canadian Subway locations will be offered a free sandwich if they log into the in-store Wi-Fi network. Once they’ve done that — which doubles as registration in the chain’s loyalty program — they’ll get a push notification with a coupon for a six-inch sandwich. The system will also remember customers each time they visit and may offer additional rewards, according to Mobile Commerce Daily.

The new rewards system will eventually replace an existing program based on physical punch cards, and the chain hopes it will drive more customer traffic to its stores — and help to shift customers’ mindsets to think of Subway as more like Starbucks and other chains that are usually associated with Wi-Fi use. That doesn’t normally include Subway, even though it was an early adopter of Wi-Fi in many stores.

Subway also isn’t a chain that customers associate with a mobile wallet, even though it rolled out a Paydiant-based wallet in 2013.

What’s most unusual about the test program is where it’s being rolled out: in northern Ontario, an administrative region that extends as far north as the southern tip of Alaska. Subway doesn’t have locations that far north, but the stores involved in the test are still well away from Ontario’s largest cities, which hug the U.S. border.

The test is also largely being driven by franchise owners, who as a group tend to be slow to adopt any technology that raises their costs.

“We are constantly looking for ways to enhance the experience in store,” said Steve Beaudry, board chairman of the local Subway Canada Franchisee Advertising Trust, in a prepared statement. “Turnstyle’s technology was appealing because it evolves the way that we can interact with our consumers, providing a platform for direct communication and a new innovative reward system for our patrons, all through the Wi-Fi.”

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