It looks like cell phones today have so many features that it is becoming less phone and more everything else. The new trend, when it comes to transforming your mobile phone into something else, is turning it into a Loyalty Card Collector. Startups like CardStar and CardBank already offer business a solution that uses barcodes to virtualize loyalty cards and store them in mobile phones. There are plenty of others, like Foursquare, Loopt, Shopkick and Gowalla, and they all aim basically on the same target, though using different techniques.
After reading about this subject, I just realized that most of these tools almost always requires users to act in order to redeem cards or register their presence in a given place, and that’s a real show stopper. Sometimes, we just don’t have the time or don’t remember to use our mobiles to redeem the cards. I think that the contender that come with an idea to skip this process will gain the biggest market presence.
One idea is to combine all possible information about a customer, his credit cards, Bluetooth ID, mobile phone details, phone number, etc. And whenever the customer uses his credit card, the cash register would try to connect via Bluetooth to the customer’s phone to store his loyalty card automatically and register his presence in the store and keep a log of whatever he consumed or bought. This would be a really good catch, and would encourage people to leave their Bluetooth receiver activate all time.
The Loyalty Card redeeming system can take advantage that customers’ Bluetooth is active and send in relevant advertisements based on what he has consumed or bought lately in that store, or suggestions on how to redeem the loyalty cards he gathered.
We could add integration to other social medias (like facebook, twitter, tumblr, etc.), but the core goal is to avoid user from the need of interacting with his mobile phone in order to redeem the card after purchase.
When it comes to Technology today, Usability and Relationship are the king. If your system offers good usability and is capable of relating stuffs and people in a very usable manner, then you’re half way to success, and that’s what I think these guys are missing at Loyalty Mobile Systems.