Mobile Retailing 101, p.4

What are location-based services or check-ins?

With the help of sites such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook—and now shopping-themed Shopkick—consumers can enter a store, post to their friends that they’ve arrived, earn loyalty points, win discounts or frequent visitor rewards and more. According to eMarketer, about 33 million people used a location-based service during 2010. While location-based applications used to be a fun way to brag to your friends about all of the places you go, they are quickly becoming a vehicle for driving traffic to your store. Ultimately, users of location-based apps like to get a deal, but many companies are also using them for loyalty reward programs and for rewarding customers when they perform a certain action, such as snapping a photo of themselves with a product in the store and tweeting it to their friends. Some check-in apps can also supply you with demographic information about those who checked in, which can help in your other marketing efforts.

Should I offer my customers mobile coupons?

eMarketer estimates that by 2013 35.6 million mobile owners will have redeemed a mobile coupon or code for online or offline shopping. A recent survey conducted by Proper Mobile Insights found that 42.2% of smartphone and tablet users had scanned a barcode from their screen or shown a promo code to a cashier. The days of paper coupons are increasingly fading. You can email digital coupons to your customers or choose to have them sent to their phones automatically when they are near your store (location-based coupons).

What are mobile payments?

Mobile payments are the next step in mobile purchasing. Mobile payments involve using your phone as a tool to pay for a purchase. While this is just starting to take off here in the United States (it's been popular in Japan for a while), someday it will mean leaving your wallet at home and using your phone as a credit card via a simple tap on the screen. What this means for you, in the long term, is the ability to load your coupons into a customer's mobile wallet and then obtain additional consumer data once the coupons are redeemed and products are paid for through the customer's mobile device.