Subway is preparing a global mobile marketing and m-commerce push, and plans to roll out transactional HTML5-based websites and applications in the U.S. and other territories starting early next year.
The quick-serve sandwich chain has dabbled with mobile marketing activity in the past – including display ads from vendors such as Apple’s iAd unit – but this initiative will represent the largest investment the brand has made in the mobile arena to date, Subway director of digital marketing, Joost Zimmerman, suggested. “We want to jump into this space now. The adoption rate of smartphones has been tremendous, and it’s the right time to start really leveraging those devices for the brand,” he told ClickZ.
Tapping services from mobile marketing platform provider Velti, Subway plans to launch location-aware mobile websites allowing customers to order and pay for meals to pick up from their closest Subway restaurant. The company hopes to have that system in place across the majority of its 24,000 U.S. locations by early next year, with a wider global rollout in 2012. It has a presence in over 90 markets worldwide, the company said, with a total of over 34,000 restaurants in operation worldwide.
According to Velti director of mobile solutions Darin Leach, the company is working to integrate Subway’s back-end systems with its own to make the mobile ordering function possible. That offering is unlikely to be ready until early next year, but the mobile site will launch later this year featuring functionality such as a store locator, menu information, and other content.
In addition to the web presence, Zimmerman said Subway will launch mobile applications for platforms including iOS and Android. The focus of its efforts will revolve around the HTML5 offering, though, in order to reach as wide a base of potential customers as easily as possible. Many marketers continue to debate the importance of apps versus mobile websites, but Subway appears to be hedging its bets on both.
Promotional activity for the new mobile products is still being planned but will likely include mobile ads, mobile sponsorships, in-store promotions, and potentially TV media, according to Zimmerman. “We see a lot of opportunities to create crossover between TV and mobile,” he said, in reference to consumers’ use of both devices simultaneously in many instances. Leach pointed out that Subway TV commercials already include a URL, which will redirect users to the brand’s mobile assets when accessed from such a device.
From Velti’s perspective, Leach described the Subway contract as “a key strategic partnership” for the company, pointing to the opportunity to work with the brand on a global scale, but also down to the local level. Leach and Zimmerman said the companies are also keeping an eye on emerging payment opportunities, such as Google Wallet, and plans to integrate those where possible in order to further streamline the ordering process for consumers.