Today’s shoppers are more promiscuous than ever. The double-dip recession is putting customer loyalty under sustained pressure as shoppers expect extended sales or short term deals on a range of products on and off the High Street.
As bricks and mortar retailers fight it out with each another (and with their online rivals) for consumer spend, it’s clear that the mobile phone has become the battleground for attention, information, decision-making and long term loyalty.
According to eBay, 50% of smartphone owners now check prices in-store and 17% of them change their minds about product choice while in-store as result of using their smartphone. It’s clear that shoppers trust their smartphones, and the prices, product info, customer ratings and reviews they can deliver, more than store staff.
Mobile has the potential to transform the under-utilised loyalty channel – mobile coupons – with personalised, time and location sensitive offers. The industry is yet to develop the redemption infrastructure, but 59% of shoppers surveyed say they want them. That’s now changing.
Retailers must weigh up the costs and benefits of providing a delivering a seamless redemption process. There are three main methods: Keyed Entry, Scanning and NFC.
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Method 1 – Keyed entry
Shoppers simply key in their unique coupon number to the chip and PIN machine after entering their PIN number. The coupon number is validated and the coupon redeemed. Both retailer and brand share the detailed data trail revealing the origin of the coupon (eg response to poster, press ad, online competition, SMS or in-App push notification), and real time reporting, linked to EPOS data.
Method 2 – Scanning
Scanning can be effective but requires an expensive hardware upgrade. Traditional infra-red scanners are able to scan paper coupons, but can’t scan mobile barcodes, as the phone’s screen bounces the beam. The best examples of scanning I have seen are in the US …
Method 3 – NFC
NFC promises to transform the mobile coupon industry, but we must consider carefully the barriers to adoption – for the retailer in installing NFC terminals, and for the consumer in learning and trusting this channel.
The jury is out on whether how consumers will adopt NFC. There’s a sizeable faction respected mobile commentators who believe NFC means ‘Not For Commerce’. Yet NFC has been deployed with great effect, mass adoption, and significant cost saving.
In conclusion and to use a particularly powerful Google metaphor, the four walls of the store have become porous. This presents an excellent opportunity for retailers and brands to harness to mobile couponing opportunity to deliver relevant, targeted and trackable offers which win share and build long term loyalty.