Real hypermarket chain leverages mobile to deliver in-store coupons
German hypermarket chain Real has introduced a new mobile coupon program that lets in-store shoppers scan products with their mobile phones to instantly receive coupons that can be redeemed at checkout.
Members of the 320-store chain’s loyalty program are now able to browse and choose online coupons for up to 80,000 items as they walk through a store. Once a shopper has made a choice, a unique digital coupon is transferred to the store’s coupon system in real time which shoppers can redeem by showing their loyalty membership card at checkout, and the transaction is processed automatically.
“It’s the first implementation using a standard – EPCglobal’s EPCIS,” said Falk Nieder, consultant for traceability at IBM, Armonk, NY. “This reduces development costs for further implementations and can speed up market penetration.
“The eCoupons are unique – each has a unique serial number,” he said. “This on the one hand ensures that the eCoupons are only used once and on the other hand enables Real in the future to address each single customer individually.
“Validation and redemption is done in real time – a customer only needs to show his loyalty card and the valid coupons are returned by IBM’s server in a few milli seconds.”
Real, which is a part of Metro Group, worked with IBM to develop the mobile coupon program using IBM’s data storage system.
Coupons go digital
Real sells a wide array of items, from food and electrical appliances to clothing. It also operates the largest coupon program in Germany, called Payback.
The retail chain has had a paper-based coupon program, with coupons distributed once a month to millions of customers.
The chain began piloting the mobile couponing program in April and has been rolling it out in weekly waves of 50 stores.
The expectation is that shoppers will begin migrating to using electronic coupons as a result of the new program. Real expects that it will be receiving several hundred thousand eCoupon queries and eCoupon redemptions per day at the cash registers of it 320 stores.
In the highly competitive mass market retail sector, the ability to deliver personalized coupons can be an important way to attract and retain customers.
However, many retailers have found it a challenge to deliver mobile coupons on a wide-scale basis.
“The scale of this implementation is what makes it unique,” said Stephen Burke, vice president of the mobile practice at Resource Interactive, Columbus, OH. “Only in German or Japan would you see something like this first because the two markets are doing the most around machine-to-machine networking and communication.
“Real is able to aggregate an enormous number of offers and enable shoppers to access them as they go through the store in real time and redeem them at the same – that is a really interesting step,” he said.
“They are doing this across the entire chain – that is a great thing. This requires the kind of logistical coordination within retail that is hard to do and when you can do it, it is very effective.”
In the Real program, shoppers choose a coupon from the Real homepage from their smartphone or via the Payback mobile app.
The system is based on IBM InfoSphere Traceability Server, a high-performance data storage device that is able to manage and analyze large amounts of data, integrate master data systems and provide data in real-time for internal and external applications.
For the chain, the benefits include a more personalized view of customers and the ability to change coupon distribution in real time.
“As the current coupons were paper-based, the new paperless eCouponing is less expensive and gives the opportunity to fast react to new circumstances and issue coupons instantaneously,” IBM’s Mr. Nieder said.
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York