Choose your favorite flavors.
2. Get notified.
When one of your favorites goes into our dipping cabinet, you’ll instantly get an email notification.
Go to Izzy’s and enjoy your favorite flavor or call us to reserve a pint to pick-up later!
The story behind our Flavor Up! system
Since Izzy’s opened, owners Jeff Sommers and Lara Hammel have tried to figure out how to make certain that customers leave the store happy—that Izzy’s has the flavor customers want, and the flavor they expected when they walked in the door. For 10 years, Jeff and Lara have wrestled with the problem of how to answer a couple of common customer questions: do you have my favorite flavor in and when will it be available?
The questions sound simple enough, but when you make small batches of ice cream and often use local, seasonal ingredients, a customer’s favorite treat can go in and out of the freezer in a couple of hours during the summer, and a couple of days during the fall/winter.
In the early years, staff filled a binder with the names of people who wanted to be notified when their favorite flavors were in the freezer, and the shift leader was supposed to make phone calls to the people waiting patiently for their coveted flavor. But at the end of a long, hot, busy summer night, that small task sometimes was overlooked. It was an imperfect and labor intensive solution, but it was a first step towards communicating with the customers who would only eat ice cream when the right ice cream was available.
Innovation and evolution
Today’s technology makes it easier to connect with customers in a variety of ways, besides picking up a phone, so Lara and Jeff started thinking about how to reach people through their website. They also started considering how bar codes were used to track inventory for wholesale and retail businesses.
After a lot of research and reflection, radio frequency identification (RFID) tags seemed to be a technology that could be used to communicate which of the 32 flavors of ice cream (out the 150 or so flavors Izzy’s makes) were available at any given time. They envisioned a system where data would be transmitted to their website as soon as a new tub of ice cream was placed in the dipping cabinet. They also dreamed of being able to project that information on the wall of the shop.
As they researched the RFID technology available, they also hoped that they would be able to have constantly updated information available for customers on their Facebook page, Twitter accounts, and eventually, customers with a specific craving could get an email letting them know that their favorite flavor was in the freezer. Today, the Flavor Up! system has accomplished all of those things, and customers can even put the new Izzy’s flavor dot home page on their cell phone.
An innovative business community
After extensive research, Jeff realized he was going to have to work hard to persuade some business partners to take on this project. It was a novel application of the RFID technology, so everyone involved was going to have to think differently about how to make it work. In addition, Jeff and Lara realized they were a small customer—their business partners weren’t going to make millions off this project. They would have to do it because it was a unique challenge. The response from local businesses was impressive.
It made me really appreciate what we have here in Minnesota,” Jeff says. “It’s an amazing business community.”
The Nerdery did all the programming of the website component of the project. Geometrics in Rosemount helped laser cut the aluminum name plates for the flavors. Abe Tech, Inc. agreed to help apply their experience with RFID technology to this new idea, even though Izzy’s would be their smallest customer. Dan Rowe and Associates came up with an unorthodox solution to problems with the antennas by using orthotics material. Boeser, Inc. fabricated metal stands, and Phoenix Technologies helped with the in-store locations of the screens. Each company involved recognized that this was a small job, but they looked at the project as a chance to work creatively.
Jeff says, “We have access to very innovative companies that are willing to work with you on a project because it’s interesting, not just because it is going to make money.”
On top of all the technical pieces of the Flavor Up! system, Lara and Jeff worked with designer Matt Terry, who developed the Flavor Up! flavor grid. The flavor grid not only displays the flavors available, but hovering over the dot reveals more flavor information. Customers now know if their favorite flavors are in the freezer before they stop by the shop. And they can scan the complete list of Izzy’s flavors on the website and sign-up to get an email whenever those rarely available flavors come in.
The flavor labels are scanned 20 times a second and the data is updated at three minute intervals. People can choose their flavors knowing that, if it’s on the wall when it’s time to order, it’s in the dipping cabinet.
The Flavor Up! system is one of those long, large projects that go on behind the scenes at Izzy’s. (The system took 1 year to develop.) What pushes Izzy’s forward on a complex project like this is the desire to make certain that customers get what they want, and that they never leave disappointed. “It isn’t just an issue of efficiency,” says Jeff. “I’m not motivated by return on investment—I’m motivated by doing things right.”
Going out for ice cream is a special occasion, and going out for Izzy’s ice cream is even more of an occasion because of the taste and quality of the treats. With Flavor Up!, whether you’ve been waiting all summer for Grapefruit Sorbet, or you just wanted to make sure that the Dark Chocolate Zin is still available, you’ll know before you walk in the door that your craving will be satisfied.