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Brick and Mortar's Killer Digital Opportunity

passbook-app-icon.pngEmail is great at driving awareness and direct revenue as it pertains to online. But for those retailers that are online and also supporting their traditional brick and mortar presence, it has been difficult to ensure they're driving foot traffic.  Sure there's coupons or loyalty memberships that can track purchases, but sometimes it is a difficult process for the customer. They need to print off coupon (hopefully they are near a printer), don't lose coupon, and remember to visit store before the coupon expires. For the marketer, unless the customer has redeemed the coupon in-store, it's hard to gauge how many of those customers had intentions (printing the coupon, saving email to show in-store) to go and redeem.  With Passbook, some of these 'issues' as it relates to the customer side are gone and enhancements to reporting and distribution for the marketer's benefit are enhanced.
For those who don't know, Passbook is new for iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iTouch) and allows customers to add coupons, loyalty cards, tickets, and more to the app. This app is one of the default apps that's included with every iOS6 device so the likelihood of an iOS customer having this app installed is high versus relying on a third party software that can provide a similar experience.
So here is why Passbook is such a killer opportunity for retailers with a brick and mortar presence: Location aware alerts! Each pass (coupon, etc) can include geo location data associated with it so the customer can be alerted that they are near a the store and to take advantage of the offer. The alert is all handled by the customer's device using Apple's geo fencing to determine if a customer should be alerted (or alert the customer based on date / time).
So lets look at a quick process for the customer:
  1. Customer receives an email for a 15% offer at Brand-X store
  2. In the email, there is a add coupon to passbook link - customer clicks link and coupon is now nicely added to the passbook app
  3. Customer is out running some of her usual errands when she gets alerted that she is near Brand-X and has a 15% off coupon
  4. She decides to go ahead and visit the store to see if there is something she might want. She ends up spending money at Brand-X
Plus they could do all of the above without having to be near or close to a printer to print out the offer or go searching in their ever full inbox.
For retailers that use coupons to drive customers to retail locations, this is a dream come true! You now have a friendly, easy way to remind customers of an offer that is about to expire or when they are near a location. It should be noted that this doesn't just have to be a coupon. Loyalty cards, gift cards, etc can all be included in Passbook with geo location alerts.
Some might say "but this is only available for iPhone." True, but taking a look at the latest email client market share (thank you Litmus) shows iOS at over 30% market share.   With the clients I work with, we are seeing even higher marketshare so this app provides a new opportunity for a large portion of your customer file already.
There are already various third parties (Passkit, PassTools, PassDock to name a few) that make the creation and development of Passbook passes simple.  They are constantly adding new functionality too (and some will soon offer support for Android), so keep checking as these tools continue to build out their offering.
If you want to see a great working example, I highly recommend testing out the Starbucks gift card implementation (you'll need to download their app first). You not only pay for the coffee using your phone, but it magically updates right before your eyes with the latest dollar amount available on your gift card after you have purchased your coffee.
This is just scratching the surface of what can be achieved through the use of Passbook.  There is plenty more to discuss and I hope to write more about it in the future.
Passbook and Passbook logo are copyright Apple Inc.

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