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Caribou Coffee steams up sales via app, mobile loyalty program

Coffeehouse chain Caribou Coffee is attempting to steam up sales on mobile via its first application for iOS and Android devices that comes stocked with mobile payment and loyalty options, and suggests that mobile is a requisite offering for any coffee retailer seeking to reach on-the-go consumers.

The brand, which is the second-largest coffee chain in the United States, is playing catch up to mobile leader Starbucks by enabling guests to pay for orders via their mobile devices, receive exclusive perks such as free beverages and check nutritional value of menu items within the app. Caribou Coffee believes this will streamline the checkout experience and offer delight to customers with the personalized Perks loyalty platform.

“Mobile pay was a major priority for Caribou Coffee’s custom app; it enhances the guest experience and makes service more swift and convenient,” said Bri Bauer, spokeswoman for Caribou Coffee, Minneapolis, MN. “Caribou’s app was also created to showcase the brand’s playful and adventurous personality, while increasing enrollment in our Perks loyalty program.”

Mobile pay for coffee chains
It makes sense for coffee and beverage marketers to leverage mobile payment options, such as Apple Pay or Google Wallet, as many of their patrons are on-the-go consumers with little time. A guest carrying no cash will be more likely to stop in and pay for a beverage if mobile payment abilities exists, especially if lines are long.

Users of the Caribou Coffee app can set up an automatic reload option from their credit cards. Funds can also be transferred into a mobile account from an existing Caribou Coffee card.

The app also enables fans to send mobile gift cards to each other, to commemorate holidays, birthdays or simply to cheer up a friend with a steaming cup of joe. Starbucks also offers electronic gift cards, although they must be sent via email.

Mgift cards are becoming a must-have for larger brands on mobile, as exemplified by Amazon’s Surprise! app, which enables guests to send personalized gift cards with messages and photos via mobile (see story).

Consumers who may not be aware of the nearest Caribou Coffee bricks-and-mortar store can enable their location within the app to display locations in the vicinity.

Mobile loyalty’s importance
The app offers a bar code, which consumers may present to an employee to be scanned to earn Caribou Perks, the brand’s form of a loyalty platform. The app will then display the user’s available rewards, with latest offers and deals showcased below.

“Specific Perks will vary depending on guests’ behavior,” Ms. Bauer said. “For example, a Chai Latte-with-an-extra-shot-of-espresso drinker may receive a complimentary add-on or a size upgrade.

“Caribou will continue to offer fan-favorite Perks like BOGO or a complimentary medium beverage, but guests must now be a Perks member to receive any special offers.”

This is a sound strategy for the brand, whose largest competitor is Starbucks. Starbucks offers a mobile-heavy loyalty platform with sneak peeks at new products, a free beverage after a certain amount of purchases and occasional seasonal giveaways (see story).

The nutrition section of the Caribou Coffee app also is likely to resonate positively with consumers. Health-conscious customers can look up a drink to find more information on its ingredients, as well as any allergens it contains.

“Many brands are going more mobile, including Caribou,” Ms. Bauer said. “Our mobile strategy is specific to each guest and how we can better their Caribou experience.

“If it’s through our app or our digital platforms, we know Caribou guests are on adventures both big and small, and we want to be the fuel for their #stayawakeforit moment.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York