Mobile CRM’s Next Battleground: Point of Sale

Some brands’ mobile CRM efforts amount essentially to creating versions of their websites that are visually friendly to mobile users.

Others make mobile an integral part of their CRM strategies.

Case in point: Arby’s, which earlier this month debuted a new item on its menu — the Smokehouse Brisket Sandwich — with a campaign that involved a number of social media components. Included among those were a game that awards points based on a customer’s tweets, the online challenges he or she wins and the photos uploaded to Instagram.

What sets this campaign apart from many others is that it is coordinated at the point of sale.

It starts with a purchase of the sandwich at an Arby’s outlet. When the customer receives her receipt she takes a picture of it and uploads it to a mobile site PunchTab created for the campaign.

For this campaign, PunchTab created a mobile Web onto which Arby’s customers upload a receipt. When users make a purchase, they can take a picture of their receipt and submit it via the mobile website. From there, points are dispersed, the players advance — and, hopefully, return to Arby’s for more purchases, err, points.

Pimping Out the POS

Engaging with the customer at the point of sale is hardly a new idea. It certainly is an established practice in traditional brick and mortar operations — think credit card solicitations and offers for loyalty points and cards — as well as e-commerce sites, where a customer is usually presented with several offers before the checkout is complete.

Now CRM is making its way into the mobile POS and customers are finding that there are a number of unique benefits to the model.

In the case of PunchTab, it is the receipt-scanning functionality that doesn’t require an app — not to mention several other benefits to the system.

Marketers, for example, get greater insight into purchasing behavior because a receipt is usually involved; consumers are right there and thinking about the campaign — which they wouldn’t necessarily be when they got home to go online; and it is a relatively easy system to set up.

Arby’s, for example, has 40 POS systems and, because it is a franchise, it requires coordinating with multiple owners, Angela Sanfilippo, chief marketing officer at PunchTab, told CRM Buyer.

“For them, mobile is the best and easiest way to engage with customers at the point of sale,” she said.

Real-Time Offers

Other companies — such as Groupon with its Breadcumb mobile app — are adding even more advanced CRM capabilities, such as reporting at the mobile point of sale.

“It is a growing trend for all mobile applications and most especially apps in the mobile POS to bring more CRM capabilities into their service platform,” Chia-Lin Simmons, vice president of marketing and content at Harman International, told CRM Buyer.

Eventually, some of these CRM-infused mobile POS systems will be able to make offers in real time to customers based on their purchase at the moment and accumulated knowledge about the preferences of other customers that make similar purchases.

“For example, it might be noted that in 20 percent of all purchases of a particular type of coffee, the customer also purchases a biscotti, then the server can offer up the option as a reminder for purchase/order,” she said.

That example assumes the mobile POS system has access to customer data about purchases and preferences — which is somewhat rare now, but a trend rapidly gaining momentum.

‘Helping Businesses’

“There’s definitely been a trend in the POS and payments industry to add value to their offerings by helping businesses better understand their customers,” Jeff Shanahan, president at CardConnect, told CRM Buyer. “This trend is built on the wealth of transactional data being collected by POS and payments companies, and the goal is to present simplified consumer behavior analyses that can be used by merchants to generate more revenue.”

Looking ahead, “more and more retailers will understand the value that capturing this customer data can unlock for this business, and will put the software in place to tap into a customer’s purchase history and thus their preferences,” predicted Dax Dasilva, CEO and founder of LightSpeed.

Now the focus is on salespeople delivering a personalized experience to customers, Dasilva told CRM Buyer. The next stage, he predicted, will focus on extending to individual customers the inside track on new products that will appeal to them and complement or replace things they have previously purchased.

Erika Morphy has been writing about technology, finance and business issues for more than 20 years. She lives in Silver Spring, Md.

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