Mobile Commerce: Where to Start

TXT, SCAN, TAP . . . Mobile commerce is not only about payment but the ability to optimize the path to this payment. Farhan Ahmad, Director of Emerging Payments at Discover Financial Services, the issuer of the Discover Card, the third largest credit card brand in the United States, explains, “Mobile payment is a small subset of mobile commerce. Mobile commerce is primarily about shopper engagement and marketing. ”

What are the mobile marketing mechanisms to engage with the mobile shopper? Twitter’s micro blogging, of Facebook’s community building, FourSquare’s crowd sourcing and Google Deals all are valuable tools but any brand or retailer is committed digital strategy across all their customers’ screens, they need to establish a direct relationship with the consumer.

The only two-way targeted channel to move the shopper across the retail touch points is via the shopper’s phone number. Why. Because once a permission-based relationship is established between the shopper and the retailer, FaceBook, Foursquare, Google, or Apple should not disintermediate this relationship. Messaging can be targeted and personalized increasing improving brand recall and conversion rates.

Like other D2C channels, mobile messaging should deliver concrete results.  A good service provider will be able to show the brand a projected return-on-investment calculator. Key to building a strategy is to be able to articulate how you intend to effectively opt-in the consumer, what are your key-performance indicators including what retail touch points you would like the channel to connect to drive your sales.

Methods for growing your opt-in including website to text opt-in, 2D barcode scanning, NFC tag tapping and direct to txt opt-in. Here are some ways to start the process now:

Large-Screen Web

This is probably the most logical place to start for most brands as it extends their existing CRM opt-in and offers the consumer a choice of channel. Give your consumer a channel choice. Allow for opt-in on the web form to bridge the conversation from large screen to small screen messaging. Messaging that is closer to point to purchase and point of decision. The key is to immediately engage on the mobile channel after the submit button.


2D codes are dotted everywhere on paper media. It is cheap and easy. Scan and move the consumer to web. The challenge is moving the consumer to a 2-way opt-in relationship. What many miss in the 2D code discussion is the ability for the scan to open directly into a messaging or short code opt-in. Speak to your technology vender. If you want to move directly to mobile web, make sure you allow for messaging opt-in on this landing page. Without this engagement, this is an anonymous click-through with little onward going ROI.


However old-school, TXT is still the only two-way channel that the consumer uses on their phone – that is native to the phone – and that the retailer can develop a place in this circle of trust. Develop a rich content relationship with a brand loyalty and drive sales. SMS delivers 3x the conversion on POS deals in measured, close-loop conversion over traditional channels such as email. Avoid simple and underwhelming TXT2WIN and focus on promotions and engagement that tie to purchase or to the needs of the brand loyalist.

Look at TXT as being a staple channel: contactless and other technologies will simple allow for more seamless engagement into the messaging channel. Look to BBM and iMessaging to allow for marketing campaigns and communities to coexist in the near future.


Keep an eye on Near Field Communication (NFC) – seems to be all about payment but it is more about proximity marketing.  Tag a product or poster and allow for TAP2opt-in, TAP2WEB, TAP2Coupon, TAP2Shop. Think of this as a more frictionless SCAN. Native to the phone’s OS, TAP, contactless marketing does not require an APP and will be native to the handset – always on and always a TAP away from activation. The challenge will be building critical mass in market. Look to late 2012 and into 2013 for some reach and frequency in your shopper base. (However, start experimenting now.)