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University Co-op drives sales, engagement via app-based location services

University of Texas has updated its mobile application, enabling its University Co-op store to engage directly with customers via location-based services such as special offers and check-ins.

The new location services are available through The University Co-op’s iPhone and Android app. Customers can opt-in to receive messages and promotions when they are near a University Co-op location.

“By enabling location-based marketing and analytics into their rich apps, universities can connect with their loyal customers like never before,” said Dan Lowden, vice president of marketing at Digby, Austin, TX.

“Texas Longhorn fans are some of the most dedicated fans in the nation, and so to connect with them through mobile to be able to offer them special promotions, alert them to store announcements or news and enable them to check-in to the store and access additional product information while there enhances the cross-channel shopping experience and rewards the fans and students for their loyalty and pride,” he said.

The new location-based features have been integrated into the University Co-op’s apps through Digby’s Localpoint Software Developer Kit.

On location
Location-based marketing is playing an increasingly important role for retailers as consumers express their desires to receive relevant messages. According to a recent report from JiWire, 80 percent of mobile users prefer locally relevant advertising and 75 percent are more likely to take action after seeing a location-specific message.

Using Digby’s technology, the University Co-op has set up virtual perimeters or geofences around its locations so it can recognize when an opted-in customer ‘s mobile phone is in the area and push out messaging to the device when they enter the geofence area, while they are inside the store and when they leave the store.

The retailer hopes to increase store traffic, enhance the customer shopping experience and gain access to in-store shopping data so it can build a strong, more personal relationship with customers, including Texas Longhorn fans.

The Digby technology will enable The University Co-op to send Deal of the Day offers that are time and location sensitive, send triggered campaigns when the apps are used to locate a store, check-in, scan a bar code, search for a product, rate a product or watch a product video.

Stronger relationships
The University Co-op has plans to bring additional new functionality to the app including the ability to scan bar codes and QR codes to browse product information, read ratings and reviews and share items with social networks.

The University Co-op, which also offers a mobile-optimized Web site, claims to be the largest seller of used textbooks in the country. It was founded in 1896.

“Universities that deploy location-based marketing and analytics in their rich apps need to ensure that they are sending relevant, time and location sensitive messages to consumers so that their customers find enough value in the app to opt-in to the location services,” Mr. Lowden said.

“Location technology is about strengthening the relationship with your loyal customers by having direct, valuable communications with them,” he said. “Once they give universities the right to connect with them in such a way, universities need to ensure they make the experience personal and relevant.

“Once they do, the opportunity to connect with customers on a deeper level, and gain Web-style analytics for the way customers are shopping in the store is significant.”