March 6, 2013, 4:04 PM

A mobile coupon that nudges the shopper when she’s near the retailer’s store

Apple’s Passbook offers that feature, bridging the gap between digital offer and store.

Passbook, Apple Inc.’s mobile wallet, can be a tool to help bridge the gap between the digital world and stores, suggest retailers who have given Passbook a try.

Passbook, a feature of Apple’s latest iOS6 mobile operating system, lets consumers store identification cards, loyalty cards and coupons from multiple retailers and businesses in a single location on their iPhones.

Sears Holdings Corp. tested Passbook this past December, said Ryan Deutsch, digital vice president of addressable marketing at Sears, during a web seminar sponsored by Vibes, a mobile marketing and technology company. “We were looking for ways to impact the customer in a very short window,” Deutsch said. “From start to finish we launched this program in four days.” Sears is No. 29 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400. Apple is No. 2.

The offer was for $10 off a $50 or more online or in-store purchase and Sears promoted it to members of its Shop Your Way rewards program. Consumers who signed up to receive text messages through the program received a text containing a link to the Passbook offer. Deutsch would not disclose the results of the program.

What makes Passbook enticing is that it uses the mobile phone’s ability to locate itself to remind consumers of an offer when they are near one of the retailer’s stores, Deutsch said. “That bridges the gap between the digital world and stores,” he said.

A couple lessons from the Sears Passbook offer stand out, Deutsch said. The most important is to know where Passbook offers fit in with other mobile marketing efforts, he says. Retailers should be aware of what Passbook can and can’t do. For example, not every consumer uses an iPhone so developing a text offer alongside the Passbook one is vital.  “There can’t be focus on just one solution,” Deutsch said.

Retailers will discover that using Passbook can have three major impacts, said Mike McGuire, vice president of research for mobile at consulting firm Gartner Inc. “It’s a convenience for consumers of having a single place on the mobile device to store and manage their digital coupons and passes,” McGuire said. It is a way to mobilize offers without creating a dedicated app or mobile services infrastructure. And because other consumer-facing companies, like health care providers, can use Passbook, it creates an additional value for consumers, he said.

Over the past four months, Vibes worked with 10 national brands and retailers in a Passbook test. The potential reach for each campaign ranged from 15,000 up to nearly 1 million consumers, Vibes says. On an aggregate basis, from 5% to 18% of consumers tapped on the text message link to get the offer. Of those, 35% to 60% viewed the Passbook offer, Vibes says.

Of that group, between 40% and 60% added the offer to their Passbook app, and 7% to 13% redeemed the offer in a store.

 

 

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