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How retailers can leverage Apple’s Passbook appBy Chantal Tode
Apple’s new Passbook mobile application will become available tomorrow with the launch of iOS 6, giving retailers new ways to engage mobile users via location-based offers, time-sensitive offers and generally power charge the paper coupon.
Apple’s new Passbook app is launching this week and already retailers, airline carriers and others are looking for how to best leverage it in their mobile marketing efforts. The strong interest suggests Passbook is shaping up to be a significant new mobile service.
“Any retailer looking to connect with Apple’s ever-expanding base of smartphone and tablet users should consider developing Passbook solutions,” said Sophie Vu, senior director of global marketing at Kony, Orlando, FL.
“With the ability to store loyalty cards, coupons and tickets all in one place, we know Passbook is convenient for consumers,” she said. “What’s even more interesting for retailers is that Passbook provides another increasingly important customer touch point even beyond mobile.
“For example, with Apple’s new mapping features and GPS functionality, retailers can easily offer in-store and location-based rewards to shoppers. With iPhone 5 pre-orders selling out in record time, we know that if anyone can gain mass adoption of a mobile wallet app, Apple is in a strong position to do so with Passbook.”
Time, location aware coupons
Passbook is a new mobile app from Apple that becomes available with iOS 6. It provides users with a centralized location to store and use loyalty cards, promotions, coupons and tickets from their iPhone.
A handful of retailers are expected to deliver Passbook experiences when it launches, including Fandango, United Airlines, Target and Starbucks while others are already working on Passbook tie-ins.
With Passbook, users will be able to scan their iPhone or iPod Touch to check in for a flight, get into a movie or redeem a coupon.
Any offers or tickets stored on the app are also tagged by location, so when users enter the airport, for example, the appropriate boarding pass will appear on their screens. Users will also be able to receive coupons and other rewards when they enter a store.
Other features include the ability to let users know when coupons are going to expire and where their seats are located for concerts tickets. Users will also be able to view the balance on mobile cards for their favorite coffee house and other merchants.
While not enabled for mobile payments, Passbook gives Apple a way to get a digital wallet in the hands of consumers now while it waits to see which mobile payments solution will rise above the growing competition in this area.
The expectation is that Apple will eventually enhance Passbook to include mobile payments
“Several of our clients are in the process of working on solutions for Passbook so that they have a presence on it when it goes live,” said Danielle McCormick, director of marketing at Skava, San Francisco.
“As it is location-based it makes sense for any retailer who has a bricks-and-mortar presence,” she said. “It will also play an important role in the travel, restaurant and entertainment industry – anywhere where someone needs to access coupons that are based on time and location.
Driving in-store traffic
Besides being a great way for retailers’ customers to keep their coupons in a centralized location, Passbook can also be used by retailers to drive customers into their stores.
“What better way to increase foot traffic then to remind customers they have a coupon or voucher that needs to be redeemed as they walk past your front door,” Ms. McCormick said. “I will be excited to see what innovative ideas marketing departments come up with in order to come up with creative way to use Passbook to get customers walking through the retailer’s doors.”
When planning promotions for Passbook, there are several factors retailers should keep in mind.
The first is time since Passbook is able to remind users when a coupon or other retail offer is going to expire.
“Retailers can create coupons that are time-sensitive in order to engage and entice their customers to redeem these coupons in a certain time frame,” Ms. McCormick said.
Passbook also has a geo-location factor, giving retailers the ability to create individualized coupons for customers based on where they are located.
Additionally, because coupons can be scanned from the phone, this creates the opportunity to deliver coupons requiring customers to walk into a store to have the coupon scanned in order to see if they have won a prize.
“This creates a great opportunity for retailers to create fun games which drive their customers through their doors as they are walking by,” Ms. McCormick said.
Retailers will also be able to use Passbook to give customers coupons when they check out. Traditionally, some retailers have given customers paper coupons when they complete an in-store purchase or print coupons on the back of receipts.
With Passbook, customers will be able to scan a QR code at the counter and get all their coupons added directly to the app.
Passbook will also support retailers’ loyalty efforts by making it easy for customers to quickly access their points information via the Passbook app, which could drive more engagement with loyalty programs.
“Just remember – wherever paper coupons once existing – passbook now applies,” Ms. McCormick said.
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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