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Retailers increasingly adopting POS mobile coupon redemption technology

A study by IHL Group and RetailConnections finds that 54 percent of all retailers surveyed indicated that within one year they will have the ability to deliver coupons electronically to customers’ mobile phone and scan at the point of sale directly from the device’s screen.

The survey of 570 consumers and 66 retailers highlights the way that consumers use their devices for social media and commerce. The study also focused on how retailers are planning to engage consumers before they visit a store and once they are in the store environment.

“The mobile channel is yet another avenue for retailers to connect with their core consumers,” said Sean M. Alexander, technology analyst at IHL Group, Spring Hill, TN. “The channel, if properly managed, can help the retailer deliver targeted, specific offers and discounts to their customers.

“It can help build a profile of the consumer and act as another avenue for a loyalty program,” he said. “This can really help in areas like clienteling, allowing retailers to build specific profiles that allow for customized service to some of their best customers and increase wallet share of satisfied, loyal customers.”

Smartphones on the rise
The IHL and RetailConnections study also found that more than 56 percent of current smartphone users are seriously considering an Apple iPhone and 44 percent an Android device for their next smartphone.

Both smartphones could nearly double their share of shipments in the United States in the next year.

The study also reveals that only 24 percent of smartphone users surveyed are seriously considering a BlackBerry and only 10 percent a Windows smartphone for their new device. Respondents could choose more than one device they were considering.

Retail mobile strategies
So, how should retailers plan to engage consumers via mobile?

According to the study, retailers need to integrate with social media, use text message coupons and offer a store locator that interfaces with a consumer’s mobile device.

The data indicates that retailers see the heavy usage of these tools by consumers on mobile devices, as 43 percent already offer social media integration, and another 29 percent of retailers plan to offer that integration within the next year.

“We see similar high levels of adoption and planned adoption in text coupons and store locators,” Mr. Alexander said.

Smartphone user behavior
Standalone GPS devices are an endangered species. Sixty-six percent of all smartphone users have used the GPS application on their phone in the past year.

A whopping 35 percent of smartphone users have received and/or redeemed a text message coupon.

Also, 41 percent of shoppers have checked competitive prices while in a retail store either with Amazon, RedLaser, or another comparison engine.

The research also indicates that consumers are using text and email features most often on their devices.

You’ll never go back
Fully, 97 percent of mobile phone users surveyed had sent or received a text message during the last year, and 79 percent sent/received email.

Social media also saw a strong response rate, with 52 percent of users having updated/signed onto their Facebook account.

“2011 is poised to be a huge year in the advancement of mobile for retail,” Mr. Alexander said. “IPhones, iPads and Android devices have all moved past the stage of being cool and into the mainstream.

“While many industry estimates peg current smartphone adoption at just 25 percent of the total cell phone market, we found that only 1 percent of current smartphone users would consider a standard cell phone going forward,” he said.

“Basically, once you go smart, you never go back.”