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Why are more retailers not leveraging the power of Passbook?

Apple recently unveiled its Passbook application with the latest iOS software update. However, what lacked was the amount of retailers that joined.

“Retailers should consider Passbook in their initiatives,” said Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis. “It is a solid step to get to mobile payments.

“The question will remain that it is a bit too early perhaps to make it a top integration priority unless you have a business that has a focus on those key first elements of Passbook, such as boarding passes, tickets, store cards, loyalty and coupons,” she said.

“The more options you give a customer to engage in a meaningful way – especially when it comes to purchasing goods – the better off you will be in the long run. It may not seem like a big opportunity yet, but getting in the game early helps understand the best way to use Passbook for your particular customer base.”

Retailers who do not incorporate Passbook into their initiatives can miss out big.

“Passbook is a market-defining way to drive customer engagement,” said Chris Mason, cofounder/CEO of Branding Brand. “Those who have it will excel and those who don’t will find themselves providing less convenience to to their customers than their competitors.

“Passbook is the only system currently in place with the critical mass and simplicity to connect online and offline,” he said. “All of this is headed straight to the in-store experience. Passbook can provide swift, convenient methods of redemption for loyalty programs and buy-online-pickup-in-store experiences. This is the new email for the iOS user.

“While some early adopters will use Passbook for the holidays, the bigger story is about how retailers will make it a part of their 2013 plans.”

Mobile progress
Passbook presents a big opportunity for retailers.

By using the app, consumers are able to store their loyalty cards and coupons – giving consumers an incentive to visit the in-store location over and over again.

Brands are missing out on a key opportunity by not integrating Passbook into their strategies.

Near-field communication technology is not there yet.

Additionally, consumers are still wary of making purchases using their mobile devices.

And, an application such as Passbook helps them comfortably transition into using their mobile device at in-store retail locations.

“It is probably a good thing that Apple named this something other than wallet, just to help with consumer adoption fears,” Ms. Troutman said. “Over time, this could be game changing, but likely not right away and this may really be just another portal to conversion, but that means Passbook is in the game with other forms of mobile payment and redemption.

“Mobile commerce will continue to grow at a solid clip,” she said. “Passbook will grow along with mcommerce. “Passbook is a step in the direction of using mobile as a form of payment processing in the digital and the real world.

“The more your phone becomes a part of your sale process, the better.”

Not there yet
Many marketers believe that retailers should not rush in joining Apple’s Passbook.

“There is plenty of time in the mobile retail market and Passbook isn’t going anywhere,” said Drew Sievers, CEO of mFoundry.

“Passbook is an enabling technology that is particularly well suited to merchants who don’t need a whole app,” he said. “In its current form it’s not a game changer.

“More and more merchants will look to leverage Passbook this year, but nothing happens quickly in the world of retail mobile payments. Passbook will improve and adoption will continue to grow.”

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York