This article originally appeared in the December 2016 issue of Total Retail is published here with permission.
Holiday shopping may not feel like it’s in full swing until just before Christmas, but research shows only 27 percent of U.S. consumers start shopping in December. Amazingly, this means most holiday shopping has already begun.
While this may give pause to some brands, worried that they have missed the window to attract customers, a new mobile channel has emerged to help overcome this challenge. Mobile wallet offers a fresh approach for delivering coupons, rewards and other one-time passes straight to a customer’s phone, at a single location where they can easily be found and redeemed.
More than just a payment enabler, mobile wallet is a versatile tool that has become a critical engagement mechanism for reaching shoppers. In particular, mobile wallet makes the customer experience of using coupons, passes, and loyalty cards extremely convenient by placing them in a single location on a mobile device. There’s nothing to print and nothing for the customer to remember to bring to the store.
Additionally, mobile wallet’s automatic updating functionality allows brands to seamlessly target offers and refresh items in real time, with no steps required by the customer. For example, a 10 percent coupon can be dynamically changed to 20 percent, or a loyalty card can be dynamically updated to reflect the current status of sought-after holiday items. Customers can even be reminded about the status of wallet items with lock-screen notifications based on time of day or location.
Yet, although some brands are integrating mobile wallet, most still haven’t realized the opportunity for engagement at stake. Many brands focus only on the customers who have downloaded their apps, but app penetration across a customer base is typically much less than half while every smartphone user can be reached via mobile wallet.
This holiday season offers the perfect time to unlock this strategic opportunity, which can then be continued for other holidays, such as Valentine’s Day. As brands compete to be heard above the noise of today’s marketplace, mobile wallet offers a versatile tool in the mobile arsenal that brands must take advantage of to better connect with customers.
New Level of Engagement
Mobile wallet opens a new level of engagement between brands and customers. When a brand’s offering is added to a customer’s mobile wallet, brands gain a connection that strengthens their marketing investment and leverages this investment for deeper engagement and maximized ROI on marketing. This connection offers an invaluable opportunity this holiday season for getting customers inside the store, increasing their purchases, and enticing them to return through loyalty rewards.
Loyalty programs, in fact, represent one of the biggest engagement benefits of mobile wallet. When loyalty activities are integrated with mobile wallet, customers can seamlessly earn points without having to deal with extra cards and immediately redeem rewards. For example, a restaurant looking to reward its frequent customers and lure them to visit can send a coupon for special holiday offerings, like peppermint bark cheesecake, that can be stored in their mobile wallet. This offering can also include a notification pushed directly to the lock screen to remind customers who are nearby a participating location, or to remind customers that the offering is close to expiration.
And the beauty of mobile wallet, and another one of its engagement benefits, is the versatile number of ways this coupon can be delivered. The coupon can be added to mobile wallet through existing marketing channels, such as text message, email, embedded advertisement, app, website, social media, in-store promotion and even direct mail. In this way, brands can take advantage of a multitude of channels to drive awareness for a campaign, and customers can easily activate the offer from whichever channel they discover and prefer.
A final benefit of mobile wallet is more detailed ROI measurement. Mobile wallet campaigns can be targeted to certain customer segments, set to only be operational in specific locations, programmed so they can be instantly updated, and tracked through barcodes. This capability allows marketers to specifically measure the effectiveness of holiday campaigns and understand exactly who each customer is who redeems a coupon.
In these ways and more, mobile wallet offers a strategic opportunity that brands should use to engage customers and improve sales this holiday season.
Dave Ratner is a former Chief Product Officer at Syniverse.