If a smart phone can be a computer, a camera, a television set and a music player, why does an ATM or a card reader have to be limited to accepting credit and debit cards? They don't, said Pal Flagg, Chief Operating Officer of San Diego-based Street Savings. He believes Street Savings technology opens new marketing opportunities for ISOs, merchant level salespeople (MLSs) and small businesses.
Street Savings uses text messaging to promote gift and loyalty programs through payment devices such as ATMs and POS terminals. The company said short message service (SMS) communications have the advantage of usually being opened within minutes of arrival, with coupons sent by SMS redeemed 10 times more often than paper coupons.
"With the growth of text messaging, we started to work with the bankcard industry to solve a problem - redemption," Flagg told The Green Sheet. "We are tracking the offers. No other company has a way to track coupons like we do. This is a product designed for the small merchant. It is simplified, packaged up and made easy for the small guy to use."
Mobile marketing is a new and rapidly changing environment and it is hard to know what will work for different merchants. Street Savings allows merchants to see what offers work for them in terms of real dollars coming back to them from advertising. "Most businesses don't have a whole lot of time to figure out mobile marketing," Flagg explained. "We tried to make this easy for the agent to understand. This product is easy to use, it's inexpensive to use and it works."
Street Savings allows merchants to key text messages into a database system. The system manages the messages and sends them out according to criteria set by the merchant. For instance, a merchant could key in a message to send customers a message saying, "We miss you. We've added $2 into your account. Thanks for being a great customer."
The message would include an expiration date for the offer and a barcode and/or key for redeeming the coupon. The system would then be able to collect data on who used the coupon, how much the customer spent and other information.
"We can now track revenue from the coupons because they key in the whole account," Flagg noted. "There is nothing better than sending out and tracking revenue from an advertising deal."
Street Savings introduced MLSs to its mobile marketing coupons and rewards at the 2011 Electronic Transactions Association's Annual Meeting & Expo in San Diego on May 11 and 12. The company worked with gift and loyalty partners Valutec, Secure Payment Systems and Synergy World Inc. to provide ETA participants text message offers from restaurants and retail merchants in San Diego's famous Gaslamp Quarter.
The agents were able to redeem the offers using ATM kiosks, text-to-join responses, credit card terminals, POS terminals, web sign-ups, social media, quick response codes, and "tap-to-join" solutions using near field communication technology.
"The hardware is ubiquitous," Flagg said. "The hardware is everywhere. For the agent this is significant. The merchant doesn't have to buy new devices to use Street Savings. No one has access to POS terminals except the agent. So nobody else can touch the device. This product is fun to sell. The agent is selling at the intersection of technology and opportunity."
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