Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Check Out is the Mobile Buzz

You've heard the buzz, now get the facts. Subway, Papa John's, Dunkin' Donuts, MGM Grand, Payless and several other retailers are delivering mobile coupons with reportedly staggering response rates. The promotions take on various configurations depending on mobile agency, provider, degree of integration and retail marketing objectives. Most of the press I've read oversimplifies the process, making it all sound very turnkey. In my experience, integrating legacy architecture with third party platforms is never simple. Mobile integration is a fairly complex process involving networks, aggregators and device interoperability. Complex enough for Barnes and Noble to bypass integration altogether and have their register clerks scan a generic coupon behind the register anytime a customer presented a coupon on their mobile phone. Well, it's not so complex that it warrants loosing valuable consumer data they could be using to market more effectively.

There are several platforms available for integrating mobile promotions and redemptions with POS through loyalty programs, stored value, pre-paid, optical and third party merchants. No doubt there are more platforms in the development pipeline and with the clear winners will eventually emerge some standards. Meanwhile, customers have rediscovered coupons on the mobile phone and mobile marketing is driving traffic now. Few forms of marketing will prove as valuable as placement on your customers' hand-held and those customers that opt-in today have limits to how many retailers they'll invite.

Sound like future-tech? Credit card issuing banks have been working on micro-payments since around 2000. Visa, Chase, Mastercard and Citi are all on board with wireless carriers and handset manufacturers to launch mobile proximity payments and replace plastic credit cards. More than half of all in-store retail transactions in the US will be mobile by 2013.

As with any media, costs vary according to scope, reach, offer, delivery channel and integration platform. Unlike other media, delivery is only half the job. Mobile promotions provide opportunity for increased loyalty, pre-paid accounts, gift cards and partner merchandising while gaining valuable behavioral insight.

Find out more about proximity payments and NFC at

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