Seven brands who are using Apple Passbook well

Apple’s Passbook which had a soft launch alongside iOS6, seems to have been met with a lukewarm reception by those in mobile. Hoping for NFC in the iPhone5, people were naturally disappointed that Apple delivered something lacking in originality. However, that might be its strength. A combination of user familiarity, native integration, alerts to the front of the screen and ease of set up for brands could make Passbook something of a hit.

First of all, Passes are easy to set up via their API, but also through a number of interfaces. They can be highly targeted and set to pop-up on screen at a specific time or a specific location. Imagine if Foursquare, for example could push an offer to the front screen whenever you passed a venue? Passbook can do exactly that. Whilst, offers, loyalty and ticketing are an obvious use, there is a massive opportunity for brands to use Passbook to offer a better service or utilities. It’s already being done for accommodation information, medication alerts or credit card statements. So perhaps it’s time for brands to get imaginative and find some new and interesting uses for Passbook Passes.

Brand Emotivity has written a white paper on the opportunities of Passbook and how to implement it, which is below, or can be downloaded here.

I previously blogged how Eventbrite and Auchan, the French supermarket are making good use of the system. Other brands who have been successful with Passbook is Starbucks (probably the ‘best in class’), Sephora, Air BnB, Medpass and Billpass.

See the slideshare below (or ) to undertand the opportunities, see how these brands have used Passbook and how to create your own passes.

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The Rise of the Unstore

How mobile is changing retail to create a new type of store:

The rapid uptake of smartphones has had a significant impact in retail. Many stores are seeking ways to combat ‘show-rooming’, where consumers browse in-store and then buy elsewhere on their mobile. Some, such as Best Buy are simply matching online prices, others such as Macys and Toys-R-Us are creating a more immersive app-based experience to win their customers on the service side.

The other trend has been the re-invention of the store. Take the products away, and instead use posters to display the products. It means that the shops can be pretty much anywhere. Whilst some have described these as ‘virtual stores’, arguably they are not virtual as they clearly exist in the real world. Instead I am calling these ‘unstores’.

The first to appear was Tesco Homeplus in Korea, with their QR-based metro posters. Since then retail brands including PayPal (Singapore), eBay (London), Argos (London), Delhaize (Brussels) and John Lewis (Brighton) have delivered similar offerings. Net-A-Porter’s (London and New York) pop up window used augmented reality rather than QR codes, and Tesco’s F&F pop up store (London) used iPads and QR tags to allow users to order products.

These examples were all short-term, largely PR exercises, however the future looks more permanent. Chinese supermarket retailer, Yihaodain, plans to open 1000 unstores. It makes complete sense in that market. Chinese have no tradition of desk-top retailing, but the rapid uptake of smartphones creates an opportunity to engage the time-poor Chinese worker. This is likely to be just the start. I would expect many brands in Europe and the US to follow suit.

Apple’s Passbook: Early evidence is that it’s a hit with users

Whilst many commentators were discussing the features of the iPhone 5, one announcement that received less notice was the introduction of Passbook in iOS6. Many industry figures had been holding out for NFC to be introduced in Apple’s new handset, so Passbook barely counted as a consolation prize. However, this feature may turn out to be a significant channel for brands and consumers.

The system has had a soft launch from Apple – not a bad idea after the maps fiasco. Some of the first for Passbook apps for McDonalds (France), Eventbrite and Airbnb were recently released in iTunes and early signs appear to show high adoption levels. Online ticketing business, Eventbrite, said that over 20,000 tickets had been sold through Passbook in the first week. The French supermarket, Auchan, has just announced that 10,000 people registered for a Passbook loyalty card within a few days of its release.

Apple’s reasoning behind Passbook is that it creates a frictionless experience by delivering barcodes within apps and negates the need to install millions of readers for NFC chips. It would seem that the advantage for consumers is familiarity combined with additional features such as location services (useful for Airbnb) or event reminders (useful for Eventbrite).

Another virtual store, this time in Belgium

Delhaize, the Belgian supermarket brand has joined a growing list of brands, such as Tesco Home Plus in Korea, PayPal in Singapore and John Lewis in the UK, who have created a virtual shop. 

The retailer has put product posters in the Brussels Metro with the call to action ‘Start your shopping here’. Users can scan the barcode (rather than a QR code) using the Delhaize iPhone or Android app to add to their basket. However, in a new take on the virtual store concept, users select the supermarket and time that they want to collect their shopping. When they turn up at the retailer, everything is packed, ready to take home.

Tesco’s Falling Sales: another example of why shops won’t be shops

ImageThe supermarket’s Xmas sales slump is an indication of the massive changes happening in retail. An article in the Guardian explores the reasons behind Tesco’s poor performance: ‘The age of the fortnightly shop is disappearing as more people turn to mobile devices’. I’d previously blogged about how online and mobile are changing the face of retail. It looks like those changes are coming faster than expected.

Tesco’s problem is that consumers now have the tools to fight the supermarkets dominance. They can no longer have it all their own way. We have a situation where consumers are generally both cash and time poor. Necessity is driving us to find the best bargains. They are found online, but increasingly, they are being found on smartphones whilst shoppers are in the supermarkets. Some shops are beginning to get it. ‘Click to collect’, for example, represented 10.4% of all orders at the end of 2011. Whilst a majority of online orders are home deliveries, not everyone wants that. Click to collect offers an immediate solution without the hassle of queuing in the store. Other attractions such as free WiFi to help shoppers find the best deals and more engaging interactions such as virtual mirrors are also supporting the in-store mobile experience. John Lewis has made a point of going for mobile sales, and encourage customers to make price comparisons on their smartphones.

In the end, we will see more diverse shopping behaviours, driven largely by smartphones. Hopefully the biggest benefit will be the end of that dreaded phrase, ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’.

mCommerce can bring £billions to the UK … if only we had the data connections

A new study from eBay, suggests that the UK could be seeing if £4.5bn in mCommerce by 2016. The only thing holding it back are the poor mobile data connections. In a survey conducted for the online auction site by retail specialist Verdict, they estimate that 16% of the UK lacks the coverage for mobile broadband with a further 20% below average. That could result in a loss of over £1bn per year in revenues. In a study of 1500 UK consumers they found that lack of coverage, low speeds and reliability were the major barriers for mobile shopping. The costs of data is also an issue for many customers. The DMA/Empirix study published last week also found that consumers were ready to shop, but the brands were not providing the service.

eBay has sent the results of Ofcom and are pushing to speed up the delivery of 4g which will provide much faster broadband. Although 4G networks are rolling out in the US and elsewhere, the UK has yet to agree the terms on which it will be auctioned off. The operators claim they have not seen their return on the £30bn + cost of the 3G licences. Mobile is the fastest growing channel for eBay who expect to see over $4bn in sales this year. More on the report here.