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Mobile Magic

New mobile marketing solutions deliver deals and information directly to shoppers, by Joseph Tarnowski

As smartphones continue to expand their reach and an increasing number of consumers become app-savvy, retailers are evolving their mobile marketing to the next level, leveraging these mobile devices to deliver information, promotions and deals directly to shoppers.

What's more, shoppers are embracing these communications, viewing them as enhancements to their shopping experience for the convenience and time savings they deliver. "With so many cell phone users now using iPhone and Android smartphones, these mobile apps reinforce our commitment to creating a quick and easy online grocery shopping experience," says Chris Coborn, president and CEO of St. Cloud, Minn.-based regional independent Coburn's, which launched a mobile app in July. "They help give customers time back into their day so they can focus on what matters most to them."

One new addition to the mobile marketing arena is the mobile deal solution, which delivers deals from participating retailers within a certain range of the mobile device.

Ping4 Inc., a Hollis, N.H.-based provider of scalable, geo-locationbased communications software for use in mobile applications and services, last month launched a real-time, location-sensitive, conditions-based direct marketing tool that alerts smartphone users with "Deal Alert" communications over any Wi-Fi network or GPS coverage near retail venues.

Called Ping4Deals, the service is a new medium that targets potential customers with smartphones who travel within 25 miles of a store, offering real-time deals that match the predetermined preferences of the mobile user.

According to the vendor, the service enables retailers to push ad agency-quality content to nearby mobile consumers, thereby helping to increase same-store sales and drive impulse purchases. The app employs Wi-Fi and GPS technology to determine the phone's location, and instead of simple SMS text messages, it delivers multimedia messaging including text, pictures, wave files and video. The promotions are developed to minimize the drain on cell phone batteries and on mobile calling-plan minutes of use, and can be configured nationally, globally or at the individual store level (hosted, software-as-a-service or on-premise).

The app is available as a free download from the Apple Store/iTunes (and will soon be available on Android), and the solution is available for a nominal fee to retailers, according to Ping4Deals. Retailers can use the service to create and deliver marketing communications based on a multitude of real-time conditions, including time of day, store activity, weather conditions, inventory levels, or something specific to the consumer's profile or buying patterns.

Additionally, the solution can be used with a retailer's existing online and social media programs. "Our products integrate seamlessly into the retailer's overall e-commerce and social networking marketing strategies," notes Nigel Spicer, SVP at Ping4Deals. "This is a new communication medium that can also be used to provision many other applications such as public safety, missing children, charity and social games."

Key to such mobile deal solutions are the preferences or filters each user has to indicate before using the deal apps. This guarantees that a user won't be bombarded with irrelevant promotions, while at the same time ensuring that she won't miss an opportunity to get a nearby deal on those items she does want.

"People don't just wake up in the morning and say 'Let's find some deals,"' says Matt Weathers, VP of product for Dallas-based mobile shopping assistant ShopSawy, which last month teamed up with mobile deal provider Spotzot to help merchants and brands connect with consumers by providing highly targeted deals. "They shop for items they actually need and want. Along the way, they seek the best prices and deals. Consumers already use the ShopSawy app to get price and review information. Now, with Spotzot's data, we can serve them deals that relate to exactly where they are standing and what they want at that moment."

Under the partnership, Shop-Savvy will deliver the deals, coupons and sales information most relevant to its users, based on their location and demonstrated shopping interest. ShopSawy users will receive the most relevant deals within 500 feet of their location.

ShopSavvy's partnership with San Jose, Calif.-based mobile deal search platform Spotzot provides users with a comprehensive catalog of in-store offers and coupons available at locations across the United States. Shoppers can spot deals before or while visiting more than 400,000 retail locations, including 1,000 major malls and outlets.


One mobile communication tool in use is ideally suited for reaching information-hungry shoppers. QR (quick response) codes are bar code-like boxes that, when scanned by smartphones, direct users to various value-added content. They can be easily generated by a variety of free applications, and then printed and posted wherever there's a need for additional information.

Supervalu's independently owned and operated Shop 'n Save banner group, which collectively operates 70-plus stores in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and West Virginia, recently launched two mobile apps that include QR code reading among their functions. Featured in the banner's weekly circular, in-store, online and through a variety of other marketing channels, Shop 'n Saves QR codes link to information such as recipes, cooking tips and deals. During the summer, for example, users also find QR codes for grilling recipes, tips and special promotions.

According to Bill Lipsky, area sales director at the Pittsburgh-based Supervalu division, "Our new iPhone application and QR code program is one of the first in the region, and a new way that Shop 'n Save is helping to make feeding a family a little easier."

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