With the rapid increase in the number of mobile devices - think iPad and smart phones - more and more businesses are looking for ways to turn their conventional loyalty programs into ones compatible with mobile. Consumers carry these devices with them everywhere, making it easy to abandon plastic loyalty cards in favor of mobile apps. If you're a business owner looking for a place to get started with mobile loyalty, here are four suggestions.
(1) TagTile: At first glance, the mobile loyalty solution from TagTile looks like near field communications (NFC). Businesses who sign up for the service receive a white cube and customers are asked to tap the cube with their phone at check-out, registering the visit.
The CEO and founder of the company, Abheek Anand, explains that part of the goal of the service is changing consumer behavior. Customers get used to tapping the phone and will then be ready for NFC once the technology evolves. For now, the company leverages sensors within mobile phones to complete the transaction.
The service helps local businesses identify and engage repeat customers through a loyalty process that's easily adoptable for both parties. Once a customer makes a purchase and taps their phone, they are on the path to future rewards, whether they be points, coupons, or discounts set up by the merchant. With a mobile app currently available for Android and iOS, and Blackberry coming soon, the service is positioned to pull in a large number of consumers with smart phones.
(2) Front Flip: With a nod to the lottery and games of chance, Front Flip uses a QR code - called a Front Flip code - to engage customers. After downloading a mobile app (Android and iOS compatible) consumers scan the code each time they come in, unlocking a Digital Scratchcard. Like a lottery ticket, the card is rubbed directly from the customer's phone, revealing the chance to win an instant prize.
Then the merchant can start reaching out to customers with targeted offers and gifts directed to their mobile phones.
(3) Chatterfly: Tagged as a program similar to those used by frequent flyers - but for local businesses - Chatterfly seeks to combine rewards and social sharing to engage customers.
Like Front Flip, consumers scan QR codes to earn points and rewards, but they can also share the customer experience via Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and Google +.
(4) TabbedOut: Although TabbedOut can be considered more of a mobile app used for opening and paying a tab at a restaurant or bar without using a credit card, there's an element of mobile loyalty for both sides. The argument is that as merchants provide what the consumer wants and desires, they'll be rewarded with repeat business.
The platform encourages "consumption-based" targeting of customers, with a CRM that allows merchants to message prior customers who fit a certain profile - say those who ate at a pizzeria and paid using TabbedOut.
Mobile apps are providing the opportunity for businesses large and small to get started with mobile loyalty programs. Now it's up to merchants and consumers to vote with their feet (or their smart phones).
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