Mobile

The future of the Mobile Wallet is not in payments, but in organizing it

Image Credit: Pierre Metivier

By now it should be clear: For any new mobile technology to take off and thrive, convenience and value must be abundantly clear to the consumer.

While the industry has been busy focusing on mobile payments, something interesting has happened.  The non-payment mobile wallet has emerged.

The real opportunity for brands is on the non-payment side, or the part of the wallet used to organize, not to pay for, items. Consumers are making their demands clear, according to recent research: They want solutions that help them better organize their mobile phones, especially as their reliance on them to complete daily tasks such as shopping continues to grow.

For retailers, the opportunity is vast, yet mostly un-tapped; they can use this emerging non-payment side of the mobile wallet, led by Apple’s Passbook and now available with Google Wallet and Samsung Wallet, to build personal, ongoing relationships with their consumers that drive loyalty and increase average order value.

What’s Behind the Growth?

Simply put, mobile wallets help the “connected” shopper keep track of items they usually carry with them, but need to find a single spot for: things such as offers, loyalty cards, tickets, boarding passes and gift cards. Think of it as a location-sensitive shopping concierge for the consumer.

It is also a better way to organize. Shoppers put their offers and loyalty cards into their mobile wallets, and the phone-based technology does the rest. They approach their favorite retail stores, and the information they need – stored in their mobile wallets – automatically appears on their phone’s home screen. Not only does this introduce immense value to the consumer, it eliminates barriers for retailers by driving consumers into their brick-and-mortar stores.

Expect to see these three things on the mobile wallet front:

  1. Google Wallet adds non-payment capabilities: When Google Wallet launched two years ago, it was completely focused on payments. More recently, however, Google recently announced an updated Google Wallet app, which allows consumers to save content to Google Wallet such as loyalty cards and offers. With more than 50 percent of smartphone users on the Android operating system, Google Wallet now gives marketers access to a broader audience. Expect to see more retailers and brands incorporate this mobile wallet technology to engage with consumers to drive loyalty and sales.
  2. Passbook scanner: The most interesting new feature Apple has added to Passbook in the new iOS 7 operating system is a scanning feature that allows consumers to scan QR codes to receive mobile wallet content. Now, they will be able to activate Passes by scanning print media, direct mail, in-store signage directly from the Passbook app, making it even simpler for consumers to add mobile wallet content.
  3. Personalized, perpetual offers and loyalty: Mobile is the ultimate form of personalized media because it is intimate and unique to the consumer. This is why it is important for marketers to create personalized and contextually relevant content based on consumers’ preferences. In addition, the dynamic nature of the mobile wallet can turn a one-time offer into a perpetual coupon. Once an offer is installed, marketers can update any or all of the content and send a notification that a new offer is available, providing opportunities to try new strategies within a single campaign.

In the last year, mobile wallets have been completely redefined to address brands’ needs to deliver compelling content to consumers on their mobile devices with dynamic updates and notifications. With Google Wallet Objects and Samsung Wallet now players in the market, expect to see further acceleration. These emerging mobile marketing channels arm retailers with a versatile mechanism that transforms mobile, shopping and commerce.

Jack Philbin is cofounder and CEO of Vibes, a Chicago-based mobile marketing technology company, and chairman of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) North America. Follow him on Twitter @jackphilbin.

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