Starbucks Launches Mobile Payments App

Big news this week as Starbucks coffee drinkers can now use their smartphones as a payment method at nearly 6,800 of the Seattle-based coffee shops nationwide. The app allows users to attach Starbucks giftcards to a user’s Blackberry or iPhone and then scan a barcode on their phone at the point of sale, and can also be charged with value via PayPal or any major credit cards. The message coming out of Starbucks HQ seems to be that they’ve opted for a barcode-based payment system today, but are planning to take this technology in some pretty interesting directions, such as Near Field Communication (NFC) in the future. Starbucks also has the ability to add value to its customers reward cards for taking surveys, and will now presumably be able to complete this entire process of presenting a survey offer, accepting customer responses, adding value to the customer loyalty app and accepting payment all on a single smartphone. The functionality being utilized for this rewards app is very similar to the Digital Wallet software available from companies like Google and Accelitec, and the fact that Starbucks has now taken the lead should serve as sign to other brands and retailers that now is the ideal time to be targeting customer loyalty by creating and launching rewards applications for smartphones.

Share

Share on Facebook

Advertisements
Posted in Advertising, Mobile | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

eBay Reports 233% Growth in Mobile Sales

This weeks sign of the times has to be the news that eBay saw their sales via mobile devices rise from $600mm to over $2b in 2010. The apps, which are available for the iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone 7 operating systems, have been downloaded by over 30 million people in more than 190 countries. Interestingly, the UK has been the fastest Eurpoean adopter of eBay’s mobile app, and combined with Germany they “generated nearly one third of all eBay’s mobile sales in 2010“. According to eBay, every minute there are 94 bids made for various products and 13 items of clothing/shoes/accessories are purchased. This really highlights the growing trend for consumers to do their shopping online and should resonate loud and clear with traditional, brick and mortar retailers.

The message being sent by the market is very clear – develop an online/mobile presence so that our shopping experiences are as fast and painless as possible, or we’ll buy from someone else who can. We’re already seeing the response to this trend from macro retailers like Target, Safeway and BestBuy with their expanding presences on Facebook, mobile applications, and location based services like Shopkick and Foursquare. For the mid-size and smaller retailers who are losing the tech-race, the time is now to start implementing solutions like the Accelitec software suite if they hope to close this growing gap and ultimately start winning back a percentage of these sales lost to online retailers.

Share

Share on Facebook

Posted in Mobile, Tech News | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carl's Jr. and Hardee's Check-In Rewards Mobile App

CKE Restaurants, which owns Carl’s Jr and Hardee’s, has an iPhone/Android app that allows people to check-in at their local fast food locations to be rewarded with a chance to win free stuff. The interface is very clean and at first glance the prizes appear to be pretty substantial, including anything from a dollar off your next soda to free burgers. The Wheel of Awesome, which is also available on both companies’ Facebook pages, is able to ramp up the rewards that an individual is eligible to win based on their frequency of application usage. Once a coupon has been awarded, the winner has 7 days to redeem it by showing their “winning ticket” at the point of sale. This is a great example of a way for restaurants/retailers/grocers to reward their customers through location based services, leverage the functionality of social media, and ultimately increase brand awareness and customer loyalty by applying a simple and fun ‘game-layer’ to what would otherwise be ordinary, everyday coupons.

Share

Share on Facebook

Posted in Mobile, Social Media | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Google Rounding Out Mobile Strategy With Stealth Startup

It was announced this week that Google acquired Zetawire, a Toronto-based mobile payments-focused startup, in August. This is important and revealing news for anyone trying to understand the long-term mobile strategy for the Silicon Valley search engine behemoth. It’s widely known that the latest version of the Google Android mobile OS, known as 2.3 or “Gingerbread”, has been designed to include the functionality of a digital wallet for users to store value; Zetawire is a natural augmentation to the digital wallet because they bring vital pieces like NFC (Near Field Communication) and payments transactions into the fold. There isn’t a great deal of information available on the startup in question, but we do know that they had several very important patents around mobile banking, identity management and credit card/mobile coupon transaction processing – all of which points directly to the idea that Google is attempting to turn smartphones running on their OS into virtual, digital wallets. With Google now officially stepping into the mobile payments and LBS space, retailers need to keep an eye on ways to enhance their business by incentivizing and engaging  customers in/around their stores via Android smartphones.

Share

Share on Facebook

Posted in Mobile, Tech News | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Gowalla 3.0 Integrates With Major Social Media Outlets

With the release of version 3.0, Gowalla has taken the lead in location based services as “the richest virtual check-in application available”. According to their CEO, Josh Williams, v3.0 is meant to begin reshaping the company into “a socially curated guidebook”, or in other words become a portable summary of things to do, informed by the opinions of your friends and connections on the Gowalla social network. This is a significant pivot for the LBS provider because up to this point they had appeared to be losing ground to Facebook Places, Twitter and Foursquare with regard to user base; this new version will allow Gowalla users to share and aggregate information across these different platforms and provide an “application-agnostic” location based check-in service for consumers. This shift is particularly relevant for retailers to take note of because it represents a major opportunity for them to begin generating brand and store awareness across all of these social media platforms simultaneously. The net effect for these manufacturers and merchants should be an ever-accelerated sharing of data from a consumer to their group of friends and followers, allowing customer reviews, thoughts and opinions to move across the spectrum of virtual friendship at unprecedented speeds. As unbelievable as it may sound, this release of Gowalla 3.0 means that information sharing via the internet and social media just got even faster!

Share

Share on Facebook

Posted in Social Media | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Foursquare, PepsiCo and Safeway Form LBS Loyalty Program

Safeway launched a pilot customer loyalty program this week at 300 of its Vons grocery stores in Southern California, combining location based services  from Foursquare and special offers from PepsiCo. The results of this trial will have very important implications for the customer loyalty programs of retailers everywhere; if these three companies can prove out this “check-in” loyalty model, then we should expect to see many others like it across all types of retail.

The most glaring omission from this pilot program is the lack of a digital wallet tied to individual customer loyalty accounts, which would allow for the check-in reward to be processed and realized without requiring the shopper to do anything beyond simply checking in via Foursquare. Ultimately it seems that LBS and customer loyalty programs are a natural fit, but this most recent model is still a few steps away from realizing its full potential.

Share

Share on Facebook

Posted in Mobile, Social Media | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Facebook Messages Raising the Bar for Relevant Messaging

Facebook has released a beta version of a new form of messaging to a select few of its 500 million users that has important implications for the digital communication methods of retailers. The new platform allows easy filtering of Facebook messages, SMS, MMS, and emails within a personalized “social inbox” tied directly to each user’s Facebook friends. This platform puts a new premium on the delivery of promotional messages that are relevant, timely, and valued, and those retailers who miss the boat will risk losing the communication channel with their users. The traditional methods of mass-messaging to any email address or phone number on record will no longer be effective; the time is now for retailers to start using point-of-sale software capable of collecting and synthesizing data about their customer preferences and segmentation.

Share

Share on Facebook

Posted in Advertising, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment