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British retail giant Oasis makes gift cards mobile for holidays

High-street fashion retailer Oasis has taken gift cards mobile with what it claims is the world’s first peer-to-peer SMS gift voucher.

Oasis tapped Eagle Eye Solutions for the mobile voucher issue and redemption initiative. The mobile vouchers use Eagle Eye’s globally patented technology, which allows redemption in-store by keying in the unique code sent to mobile phones using retailers’ standard electronic point of sale (EPoS) and chip-and-PIN systems. 

“This is not a one-off campaign, it’s an ever-running initiative basically getting rid of the plastic gift cards and bringing it all to mobile, therefore it’s green,” said Steve Rothwell, cofounder/CEO of Eagle Eye Solutions, Guildford, England. “It’s all digital—it’s all done via mobile phones.

“You can schedule a Happy Christmas gift voucher or a happy birthday message and lock in when it’s going to be delivered,” he said. “The advantages are you can buy gift card vouchers very quickly and easily online, there are no shipping costs for the retailer and consumers can also add a personal message—it’s cool.

“This a transactional type of voucher, a gift voucher, not a discount voucher—next year Oasis will roll out the mobile couponing side of it.”

Oasis is part of Aurora Fashions. Oasis currently operates 93 stores and 177 concessions within Britain and Ireland and 133 internationally, plus 80 stores throughout China via a joint business venture.

Working with the likes of IBM and MasterCard, Eagle Eye Solutions designs, develops and implements mobile-based retail marketing services for both B2B and B2C audiences.

It is a vendor of digital voucher and coupon services with clients such as Comet, Molson Coors, Harvey’s, ITV, The Galleria, Corney & Barrow, Pitcher & Piano, HipCricket and Gordon’s Chemists.

Eagle Eye’s other services include mobile marketing, a mobile loyalty platform and a mobile ticketing service.

BT Expedite is the retail specialist division within BT. BT Fresca creates transactional Web stores for fashion and lifestyle brands such as WH Smith, JJB Sports, Primark, Matalan, Aurora Fashions, Harvey Nichols and Thomas Pink.

Mobile gift vouchers
The mobile gift voucher program launched on Dec. 8 across all of Oasis’s standalone stores in Britain and Northern Ireland.

Oasis customers can buy the gift vouchers online through the Oasis Web site or directly at in values of £10-£300, the equivalent of $16-$490.

To buy the vouchers, customers go through five steps online.

They select the voucher amount and input the sender’s email, the recipient’s mobile number, add personal message up to 56 characters, define time and date of delivery, and marketing opt-in or opt-out.

All details are summarized for approval before customers enter their debit/credit card details and finalize the payment.

Oasis confirms that an email has been sent to the purchaser as proof of purchase and a second email will be sent when the voucher is scheduled for delivery.

The retailer is promoting the mobile gift voucher program via email and its PC Web site, with in-store signage with a mobile call-to-action coming early next year.

Once established, Oasis’s parent company Aurora Fashions intends to roll out the mobile vouchers to all its brands—Karen Millen, Coast and Warehouse—in the first quarter of next year.

Eagle Eye touts mobile gift vouchers for their ability to save retailers money via energy savings—the energy used to print vouchers, to create paper and ink, to distribute vouchers to shops, to post vouchers to purchasers and to recycle paper vouchers.

Harvey’s, the fully integrated sponsor of ITV’s Coronation Street, revealed the results of its mobile vouchering trial.

Across the 13-day trial period, 30 percent of viewers who requested a mobile voucher went on to redeem them in-store. This figure peaked on some days at 50 percent redemption.

Corney & Barrow introduced new lager Monteiths to its customer database via an email inviting them to request a mobile voucher to claim six free bottles at any of its London sites.

The campaign, which ran during February, succeeded in encouraging 38 percent of consumers to redeem the mobile voucher.

Designer outlet shopping center The Galleria achieved a 53 percent in-store redemption rate of mobile vouchers offering discounts at customers’ favorite stores during October’s half-term holiday.

This is 10 times the average expected for similar paper, plastic or emailed vouchers, according to Eagle Eye.

Eagle Eye’s mobile vouchers use a retailer’s existing EPoS and chip-and-PIN systems, meaning no new investment or changes to their infrastructure are needed.

Customers understand existing electronic transaction and chip-and-PIN systems, so education is fast and adoption rapid, according to Eagle Eye.

Mobile gift vouchers are more environmentally friendly than paper or plastic, with less waste and a smaller carbon footprint from creation to delivery.

Mobile vouchers allow retailers to increase footfall, revenues and reach new demographics—especially last-minute panic-buying men, according to Eagle Eye.

They can be personalized and scheduled to arrive on a specific day such as Christmas or a birthday.

The system reduces the potential for fraud, as it is sent directly to the recipient’s phone and must be shown in-store.

The data captured offers retailers levels of insight into consumer behavior.

Oasis claims that it released the first commercial fashion iPhone application, and sees the Mobile Gift Voucher initiative as building on that mobile platform.

“This is a different type of service, and because their customers are young people, a mobile platform means they can get gift vouchers out to a lot of people they need to, and it makes buying online easier,” Mr. Rothwell said.

“There are no distribution costs, no fraud, and we’re providing them a significant USP [unique selling proposition] over the competition,” he said.