Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Imagine commuting home and pre ordering and paying for your Indian take-away via the mobile. Walk in pick up or deliver at a set time, no credit cards and certainly no cash. Simply a text confirms your order and approved payment credentials. Payment is made via a mobile coupon and the charge appears on your mobile bill.
Recent research in the U.K. and U.S. by mobile transaction network mBlox found that British shoppers use mobile coupons more than their American counterparts – 29% vs. 15%.
However, these figures are destined to rise as 71% of British and 42% of American consumers expressed an interest in having coupons delivered to their mobile handsets.
“2011 is poised to be a huge year in the advancement of mobile for retail,” said Sean M. Alexander, technology analyst at IHL Group. “iPhones, iPads and Android devices have all moved past the stage of being cool and into the mainstream.”
The coupon has shaken of any stigma attached to its use, perhaps in part due to the convenience of electronic and mobile formats. While only 1.5% of all coupons are currently distributed digitally, redemption rates are impressive at around 10-15% compared to an overall 1.2%.
Clearly the phone is challenging the way business is carried out in our new mobile world.

Stephen Minall of Moving Food Ltd says:
“The EPOS providers have had it their own way for long enough say Technology experts in the USA, after all most FPOS/EPOS systems are not complicated technical pieces of kit running equally complicated programs any more (the fear factor within) ..They are only overly priced PC’s with a cash drawer”.
If you assume this stance from the beginning you can begin to appreciate the huge cultural change in how Restaurant and Hotel Brands will take orders or payment or do stock control in the very near future. From the how employees will track orders, how consumers will pay for goods and even to the how CRM/Loyalty schemes will change from paper and plastic cards to mobile screens, this viral existence, this dramatic change, will come with next generation mobile phones and the launch of iBooks. In Australia to USA this is already happening. In the UK our present Blackberry’s, iphones and 3G networks could handle this system now.

Consider Trevor Seeman (President of http://www.smartertakeout.com/), his touch screen ordering system for customers, has built in average spend evaluation software with a fully integrated loyalty program. It is helping change many brands in the USA, but already Trevor has written the system for iPhone and ipod use, thinking way ahead of most of Europe.
Trevor says, “ Its not the front end alone but the MIS behind this that grabs both customer and brand owner alike” In other words the total solution is fundamental, easy to use for the customer and providing the auditing trail and management control for the brand operator.
If you really want to see the potential of pre order/pre pay by text then look no further than companies like http://www.readyping.com/ or txtandtell, developed by http://www.touchworks.com/. Here the enticing images and quick response times can be programmed to suit eat in or carry out customers, built in loyalty schemes and live data on spend per head, voucher redemption and impulse marketing are standard software options. We are not talking APPS here by the way, but through your personal non verbal link to your favourite restaurants/hotels/retailers. Take a good long look at http://www.corethree.net/ an advanced British company based in Watford Herts and appreciate where the independents could take this.
If specific programs are being written for mobile phones, then clever, practical and unique programs will evolve. Take a look at http://www.ywaiter.com/ this is already evolving into a fully integrated system.
http://www.franchisepayments.net/ is a very clear leader and clever mobile phone system allowing Franchise Brands to attract orders by phone, but with payment processes also. Again viral marketing built in, this even tracks lapsed users and reminds them “they” have not visited in X number of days.
If you want a modern look at touch tone technology look no further than http://www.t1visions.com/, Marco Ventura the CEO showed off this impressive booth, “based on total inter active solutions” says Marco.
Picture this journey: Booths or tables seat 4, the touch screens can be inverted and split 4 ways so all customers can touch activate them individually around a specific menu of drinks, starters, entrees and desserts, the menu items can be tapped and full ingredients are listed, ask for a recipe card and the menu item will be printed BOH and brought to the table. Choose a wine and the intelligent program will choose a wine that suits all entrees. Off to see a film ? Touch cinema, up pops the movie selection will poster links, tap and a 30 second video of the movie will play, ask for a discount and a voucher for the cinema, one can be printed. A built in web cam takes pictures, can even turn them into cartoons, ask for the occasion to be remembered, a photo can be taken and printed back of house. Your order is remembered in detail, you are invited to become a member and your meal/drinks data is stored. Next visit sign in with your code and you get a reminder of your last order, further access is available to MTV via video, this matches your music choice and of course games technology is standard…now get this you designers this is all built into a table top less than 4 inches thick and USA price with software is a mere $5k per booth. In the States the average check on this system has gone up 25%; pay back on each booth less than 9 months…
So where does this take us here in UK ? It’s time for a rethink so be prepared for change. Just Google mobile payments and read the worlds move to this technology. If Japan has it, as does Scandinavia how long before we order our pizza not by APPS but by simple text recognition. Pixel Codes, these new square chequered boxes we’re seeing increasingly in advertisements, on products and in our papers can hold millions of pieces of data, the best CRM/Loyalty embedded in programs for mere pennies. The airlines and the rail authorities are already issuing these as e-tickets.
Moving Food and Juniper Research estimate 15 billion e-tickets will be issued by 2014 in the UK alone!! (from cinemas to stadiums to air/rail and events)
The scary thing is, and this really does challenge the till providers, most of these mobile systems are free, no infrastructure costs, no maintenance fees and no hard ware to break down…the user pays for the system through their mobile/text charges. In Finland, already advanced in mobile pre-order, the first €20 Euro’s for goods can be charged to your phone not your credit card, so buying fast food, paying for parking, ordering drinks goes to the mobile phone bill. In France this is now €10. This obviously challenges the Credit Card companies and the banks hold on this sector – what will they do to combat the threat to their own revenue streams?
Checking into Hotels and pre ordering payment of the room and checking out already exists in Scandinavia, with built in CRM and is coming into the UK in 2011..
How powerful will this be ? Understand one thing, its here, its gaining momentum fast so be prepared to trial…move with it or be left behind.
No doubt there will be more to follow on this very interesting subject.
Stephen Minall – Director Movingfood.com