How can retailers use mobile marketing's new technologies to their advantage? Here are some scenarios.
Way back in 2002, I wrote a column discussing the movie "Minority Report," and how it inappropriately mixed personalized marketing with mass marketing. In it, I speculated about the use of handheld devices to make this interaction more natural and personal. Skip ahead eight years, and it's time to revisit that conversation. No, this is not another column about mobile websites. Today, let's look at a much more interesting prospect: mass marketing as a point of sale, as facilitated by mobile devices. I've already reported on European uses of text messaging to pay for anything from candy bars to parking spaces. But technologies are about to transform mobile devices even more, enabling smart, personalized transactions with one-click functionality.
A company called Mobio is leading the way in this new frontier. Its technology has many layers to it, but for the purposes of this column, I'll skim the surface and talk about the new user interactions it will enable. In essence, it turns your mobile phone into an über credit card. The technology works by scanning a bar code using your phone's camera. Retailers can put any amount of information into this bar code, such as its own retailer information, specific product information and price, and product attributes (such as color selection) it needs to know to complete the transaction. The Mobio app (you can get it in the iPhone app store) stores your credit card information and whatever other preferences you wish to tell it, such as your shoe size. By pointing your camera at one of these bar codes, you can instantly buy products simply by clicking "OK." Any other information needed to buy the product and ship it to you is automatically transferred. For those interested in security, this app actually generates one-time use credit card numbers so there is virtually no way your identification can be stolen.
Let's look at some possible scenarios for this technology. I'll use some of our clients as examples:
Those are just some examples of how a few of our clients could use this technology. There are many more possibilities. Netflix, for example, could sell its subscription service off of a billboard ad. We are even exploring a few more advanced ideas for clients that I can't talk about yet. Let's just say that this type of technology, if it caught on, could bridge the brick and mortar/digital divide in a lot of really exciting ways. In fact, in much more exciting ways than simply replicating a sales channel on a mobile device via Web app or native iPhone app.
One of the most important uses of mobile devices is barely being tapped at the moment: using it as a payment method. Once we fully understand this, we can turn "old" mediums, like billboards, weekly circulars, or store windows into their own point of sale, complete with personalization, dynamic pricing, and loyalty program tie-ins.
Thoughts, comments, questions? Leave them below.
Until next time...
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Jack Aaronson, CEO of The Aaronson Group and corporate lecturer, is a sought-after expert on enhanced user experiences, customer conversion, retention, and loyalty. If only a small percentage of people who arrive at your home page transact with your company (and even fewer return to transact again), Jack and his company can help. He also publishes a newsletter about multichannel marketing, personalization, user experience, and other related issues. He has keynoted most major marketing conferences around the world and regularly speaks at Shop.org and other major industry shows. You can learn more about Jack through his LinkedIn profile.
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