Suspended Coffees (and Suspended Products Programs)
What is a Suspended Coffee?
A Suspended Coffee is a coffee that is purchased by a customer with the purpose of making it free for anyone who needs it.
In practice; a customer buys two or more coffees; but only takes one. The remaining coffees are “suspended” until anyone1, who can’t afford it, asks for it.
The concept is often applied to other products and services also.
What is a Suspended Products Program?
“Suspended Products Program” is a term used to describe the method and practice through which businesses facilitate and encourage their customers to provide and accept Suspended Products.
Suspended Coffees are the most well-known type of Suspended Products Program. However; any type of product or service can be a part of a Suspended Products Program, and, in fact, many products and services have the potential to do significant good for people in need (e.g. food, shoes, books, mammograms, etc).
For a Suspended Products Program to work; it requires active participation from the business; who must keep track of how many products are suspended and who will provide the product or service when someone accepts them. Typically; businesses that provide a Suspended Products Program are inclined to contribute also, in some way, and frequently that contribution is in the form of a reward to the customer for purchasing products; possibly with discounts on their purchase and special acknowledgement, which may encourage the customer to participate again.
How Do Suspended Products Programs Work?
First off; participating businesses require some method of keeping track of how many (and which) products have been paid for are available to be received.
Frequently businesses who offer a product or service, limit the kind of products that are eligible (e.g. Sandwiches and Drinks). One business we spoke to keeps a jar, visible through their windows, where they place cards. If the card has one punch in it; it can be redeemed for a drink. If it has two punches in it; it can be redeemed for a sandwich. Employees put the appropriate card into the jar depending on what category of product the customer purchases. A person who needs a drink or a sandwich takes a card from the jar to the checkout where they trade the card for the corresponding drink or sandwich. One big advantage to using a method like this one is that people who need products can see if there are any available without having to even enter the business and they don’t have to be turned away at the checkout; they don’t even have to worry about someone in line ahead of them receiving the Suspended Products before they do.
Keeping track of available suspended products isn’t the only thing that needs to be done in order to provide a successful program, though. One should also consider:
- Signage; something that advertises your Program and explains how it works. Consider a tablet display that shows the current suspended product count. Of course; advertise your program and offer customers the ability to purchase Suspended Products on your website.
- Networking; there are networks you can join where your suspended products availability can be posted where people who need them can find them. Networks may further offer people the ability to purchase suspended products online2
- Participation Incentives and acknowledgement; reward customers who purchase Suspended Products and acknowledge their contributions. This encourages customers to participate again and allows your business to demonstrate its own willingness to support and contribute towards the Program.
There are a small number of mobile and web apps that support Suspended Products Programs as well as Suspended Products organizations; such as Suspended Coffees; who support businesses who want to run their own Suspended Products Programs. A big advantage in using an app or joining an organization is that either will help a business to get the word out about their Program via their networks; which can increase participation and have a greater potential for helping people. Also; Suspended Coffees can provide businesses with window signage.
At QR Loyalty Cards we have just launched our own Suspended Products Program offering, as part of our Punch Card/Customer Loyalty Program, and which is available for free. If you want to try out the offering; sign up for a free Loyalty Program account and activate the “My Treat” option on your Admin Page.
Should My Business Participate?
Do you sell a product or a service that people need, but do without because of a lack of money? Are you a socially conscious business owner who wants to contribute to your community?
A Suspended Products Program is a great, affordable way of contributing towards the needy in your community. In fact; Suspended Products Programs create opportunities for Product Upsell and Viral Advertising; which can greatly increase business.