August 12, 2010, 12:04 PM

Firethorn designs a mobile app as a virtual gift card mall

American Apparel will open up a store in the mall in time for the holidays.

Lead Photo

A screengrab from American Apparel's Swagg mobile store

The holiday season is a time for presenting loved ones with gifts—and on top of many loved ones’ wish lists is gift cards. With that in mind, mobile banking technology pioneer Firethorn Holdings LLC has chosen the fall to debut a new shopping app centered on purchasing gift cards, as well as receiving special offers from participating retailers, to make its debut in mobile commerce.

Dubbed Swagg, the mobile app is a kind of virtual shopping mall for gift cards, where retailers sign up with Firethorn to be a featured store. American Apparel Inc., No. 269 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, announced today that it has inked a deal with the company to be a store in Swagg, not only selling gift cards but presenting special promotions to users of the Swagg app.

“We are excited to work with Swagg as it provides American Apparel with new functionality for our gift card channel,” says Stacey Shulman, American Apparel director of global I.T., retail. “We believe this new distribution channel will bring value to the American Apparel brand and make it more convenient for our consumers to buy, share and send virtual gift cards this holiday season.”

Firethorn says it has signed deals with other retailers that it promises to name in the weeks to come.

To purchase a gift card, a Swagg user logs into his Swagg account, which contains his personal information and the product categories that he says interest him. He then selects the merchant, types the amount, enters the recipient’s e-mail address or mobile phone number, as well as a personal message and selects whether the gift card should be delivered by e-mail or text message. Then he enters the payment information (the app encrypts the data) and confirms the order.

To redeem a gift card a recipient must sign into her Swagg app account; if she isn’t a member, she can create an account, which requires minimal information. The recipient then shows a cashier the numeric code or bar code that she received via e-amil or text, or uses the code while checking out on an e-commerce site. To redeem special offers such as a percent off a total purchase, a Swagg user shows a cashier the offer as displayed on her mobile phone screen.

Swagg also serves as a repository for loyalty cards. The app enables users to enter loyalty card numbers into their accounts, which they can show cashiers. They can also check loyalty card account information if their retailers participate in Swagg.

“Swagg will make consumers smarter by allowing them to give and get gift cards, receive personalized offers geared to their individual interests, and keep current with their loyalty programs, all from their mobile device,” says Chip Fishburne, vice president of financial and merchant services at Firethorn Holdings. “The Swagg mobile app will simplify how consumers transact and interact with the American Apparel brand. Working with Swagg will also enable American Apparel to reach its loyal customers anytime, anywhere, with the latest offers from their favorite brand.”

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