How Mobile is Your Business?

How Mobile is Your Business?

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I’ll fast forward a bit for this opening scenario, as I’m not suggesting it’s going to be happening by the end of this week, but it’s certainly worth considering by the end of the year…or maybe even the end of next month.

One of your best customers is out shopping in the area near your location. Your store has a wireless mobile marketing network that alerts you to this fact through the cell phone the customer is carrying. A profile has been set up that automatically sends out a coupon for a sale on media cards that shows up on this customer’s cell phone. You know they need a new higher capacity media card, because they were in last week and they used your kiosk and the data stored in that unit shows they recently installed a 64MB card to upload their images. They are now within a mile of your location, and though they hadn’t planned on stopping in your store on this day, that media card might be a nice idea as they recall the conversation they had a few weeks ago with your counter personnel about how a higher capacity/faster card would be a smart buy in the future. Moments later they are pulling into your parking lot.

The mobile marketing world is starting to hit the fast lane and the news last month that many U.S. convenience stores are beginning to eye mobile phone coupons is worth keeping a close eye on. This new technology is allowing retailers to send text messages that include a bar code consumers can redeem as a discount store coupon. According to a recent report from business and technology news Web site Silicon.com, convenience store retailers are making plans to start using the new system later this year.

The concept is essentially turning cell phones into electronic wallets and making that device even more central to the lives of consumers. The benefits here seem to come full circle – mobile phone operators win for the aforementioned lift to their product, consumers have a new, more convenient way to shop and the retailer has a slick, targeted marketing tool that speaks in a very personalized way to their customers.

On its most basic level, the system works thusly: the shoppers receive a text message containing a barcode that can be scanned to score a discount on whatever goods the retailer chooses. The consumer might also be able to text keywords to get discounts on other goods they may want to buy – of course, the individual retailer will make these decisions.

Early returns within this world are showing surprisingly high redemption rates – as much as 5 to 10 times more effective than something like the typical loyalty card system. However, we are told the real key for the retailers and their manufacturing partners is the data they can get about customers when they sign up, which will be used to target personalized marketing messages directly to their cells.

Again, this isn’t all going to happen by Father’s Day. There are still many kinks to work out and the jury is certainly still out on how consumers will ultimately take to some of this stuff. But one thing is certain, if it takes hold and your competitors are on it, it’s a call you may want to take.

We’ll be taking a much closer look at this topic in an upcoming issue.

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