Sainsbury's tries mobile phone coupons
The UK supermarket group Sainsbury's, through its 'Jacksons' store brand, is running a couponing system with a difference: the coupons are transmitted to the customer's mobile phone, which is then presented and scanned at the check-out.
The mobile couponing programme is called 'Shop, Scan, Save', and is operated by London-based marketing agency The Light Agency Limited under the name 'M-Bar-Go', and is currently available at a number of locations in Hull.
Opting in... M-BAR-GO club members sign up for the scheme by sending a 'JOIN' message by SMS to a registration service number, and are then sent back a graphical message containing a bar code which can be scanned at the check-out, directly from the mobile phone screen. Alternatively, customers can request their membership bar code via the programme's web site, or by e-mail. Of course, the availability of the service depends on the consumer's possession of a handset and use of a mobile network that provides at least SMS text messaging.
... and opting out Membership of the programme is also easy enough to cancel, either by text message or e-mail. In a most responsible fashion, a notice on the web site's registration page explains how the member's personal data will be used:
SMS offers After registration, members then receive weekly offers from brand owners such as Unilever, Masterfoods, P&G and News Group International. These promotions are sent either via standard SMS text messages or, for those with more advanced handsets, via MMS multimedia messages. The programme's operation stresses that there are no charges for receiving club messages or for using the service.
A new twist Adding an interesting twist to the special offer process, members can also send in requests by SMS for offers on specific product categories. For example, if a consumer wants to buy some shampoo, they can SMS "shampoo" to receive a specific offer for that category, on the spot.
Redemption To collect on any offer they have received, members simply show their membership barcode at the check-out, where the cashier scans it. The discounts are then applied automatically before the transaction is closed.
The Wise Marketer notes that this application of mobile bar-coding technology could well mark the beginning of the long-term 'mobile phones for loyalty' trend foreseen by Impaq Group's Mobile Life 1 report (see our June 2005 article, 'Can the mobile cuckoo rejuvenate loyalty programmes?' - click here).