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Caribou Coffee supercharges loyalty strategy with mobile gift cards

Coffeehouse chain Caribou Coffee is one of a still small but growing number of merchants to recognize the power of mobile to reinvigorate their gift card strategy by making them easier to purchase, send and redeem.

Following in the footsteps of Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts and others, Caribou Coffee has launched a new egift card program enabling customers to purchase and send personalized digital gift cards from mobile and desktop. To support the launch, Caribou Coffee will give out $5 egift cards to consumers who purchase a $25 egift card between now and Dec. 31 or while supplies last.

“At Caribou Coffee we are dedicated to continually innovating and enhancing our customer experience, and offering digital gift cards was a natural extension to our efforts, especially during the busy holiday season,” said Michele Vig, vice president of marketing at Caribou Coffee.

“Digital gift cards are convenient and personal – making them a perfect complement to the existing holiday gifting options,” she said.

“We are currently featuring Caribou Coffee eGift cards on our homepage and offering a special promotion, rewarding consumers who purchase a $25 eGift card with a $5 eGift card for free until December 31, 2013.”

Interactive engagements
According to a recent report from RSR Research, only 15 of the 86 retailers in the report offered digital gift cards with mobile integration.

While many of these integrations were simple save-to-homepage links from a mobile Web site, merchants such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, who scored highest in terms of digital gift cards, let consumers save a gift card to an account that can be accessed on a mobile phone to be used for payment.

Merchants who are successfully leveraging mobile gift cards look at what makes them different from physical gift cards: they are interactive and enable real-time information, opening up new content-related opportunities.

For example, merchants can integrate gift cards with Passbook and Google Wallet so that recipients are easily reminded of an egift card when they are near a store.

Promotional opportunities
The Caribou Coffee egift cards are redeemable at participating Caribou Coffee locations or on the merchant’s online store.

Caribou Coffee has partnered with CashStar to power the egift card program.

Customers will be able to select from a wide range of designs through CashStar’s design catalog and add a message and/or a photo to personalize an egift card.

The interface has been designed for small mobile screens so that shoppers can quickly and easily purchase an egift card.

Customers can also send a text message with an egift card link.

The platform also enables Caribou Coffee to develop and implement promotional campaigns that will help it drive customer loyalty.

“Building our mobile presence is a priority at Caribou Coffee as we aim to connect with our customers using the most relevant channels possible for them,” Ms. Vig said.

“In order to provide our guests with the best experience, we knew we needed a digital gifting option that our customers could give on the go,” she said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York