A Forrester report points out challenges faced by some business-to-business firms working online.
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An easy process
Walgreens' mobile, social and store operations teams work together on SoLoMo strategy. "We've had mobile coupons in our apps since Black Friday 2011, so it's a process we've been going through internally where we have all the groups working together to get offers out and work with merchants," says Tim McCauley, director of mobile commerce.
Kmiec says the biggest challenge has been making foursquare shoppers aware and getting them to check in. But that's where the offers come in.
"We have been conditioning people that every time you check in on foursquare there will be a value," he says. "Last fall for check-ins we had a donation of a flu shot voucher for people in need. Sometimes we have check-ins to be entered to win a Walgreens gift card. We've paid a lot of attention to the social/local/mobile channel. Feedback from customers and comments have been overwhelmingly positive, focusing on how simple and fast it is."
The biggest challenge for Cinnabon in its SoLoMo work was data quality. Not only was there the official venue page for each of Cinnabon's 400 U.S. locations, there were duplicates created by consumers who failed to spot the official venue in the foursquare list. So there could have been a dozen entries for one Cinnabon store, which means a customer who thinks he's checking into the official location might not see the special offers, undermining the value of the program.
To address that issue of incorrect locations entered by consumers, Cinnabon turned to a new mobile technology provider, MomentFeed. Working with Cinnabon, MomentFeed staffers first manually identified the precise geocode for each bakery. Then they went through foursquare and Facebook and, with the permission of both companies, merged all the venue pages into the official locations. Now there is only one Cinnabon entry per bakery, and when customers check in they're doing so with Cinnabon and are receiving the special offer.
"Through our PinSync process, we removed many of the barriers to engagement and made it easier for customers to both find a local Cinnabon and to check in when they arrived," says MomentFeed vice president of product and client relations Derek Browers. "We find that 40% of locations have multiple, unauthorized duplicate venues and more than half show inaccurate geocodes. This undermines customer engagement, search and discovery, which results in lost opportunities to connect with customers and generate sales."
Hadley says sales are up in part because of the SoLoMo campaign, and that engagement through check-ins and Likes has never been higher. Foursquare campaigns make marketing more precise and keep branding in the SoLoMo world consistent, MomentFeed adds.
"With foursquare you can establish one-to-one customer relationships. When a customer volunteers their personal data via foursquare you can see the patterns and when they visit your store and how many times over a given period, and then you can reward them with a $20 gift card delivered via Twitter, for example," says Rob Reed, founder and CEO of MomentFeed. "The main benefit is getting control and centralizing control at the brand level. For consumers they have a consistent on-brand experience at every location and across these social networks. It's a less measurable benefit, but that is the heart of it."
Where mobile is headed
Keeping the brand top of mind is a priority in Walgreens' SoLoMo efforts, as well. The retailer says SoLoMo tactics are a key to the future of mobile commerce.
"We are bringing more people into a Walgreens through these innovative programs, we are getting potential customers to walk through our doors versus someone else's doors," Kmiec says. "This is where the market is going in terms of mobile and why we continue to invest in our mobile app. Mobile is the link in helping us cement the value proposition of being a true multichannel retailer."
SoLoMo techniques are getting an increasing amount of attention from retailers, restaurants and other companies—little wonder when half of U.S. consumers now carry smartphones and 18% of smartphone owners are checking in. Consumers have always had their favorite local merchants, and now social apps like foursquare and the growth in smartphones are combining to make SoLoMo a powerful marketing combination.