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Where mobile meets high street

Mobile is tapping into high street shopping, with a new app from Quidco which will pay users small amounts of money to go into certain retailers, and send them discount coupons. It uses GPS technology in smartphones to track the movements of users, and trigger rewards as soon as they set foot in shops including Apple, Debenhams and Homebase. The news comes hot off the heels that MasterCard has teamed up with Quidco competitor Shopkick to offer a similar service, so that MasterCard holders will now get rewards each time they make a qualifying purchase.

The technology provides an interesting example of how mobile can be used to incentivise footfall in high street shops, rather than just drawing shoppers online. However, it’s important to question how much value this kind of technology can truly provide in isolation. With Quidco’s typical reward amounting to just 50p per shop visited, the chances of this app leading to a step change in consumer behaviour seems unlikely.

However, a more effective approach would be to integrate this type of technology with a mobile wallet application, which could link payments capability with loyalty rewards, coupons, and the additional monetary incentive. It is the interactions between these complementary functions that start to make the technology compelling to a potential user, encouraging them to take the step from curiosity to signing up. In order to gain widespread usage, mobile operators, banks, and retailers need to ensure their payments applications go that bit further to meeting consumer needs, and negate the sign-up fatigue, which research shows causes so many consumers to drop out of a registration process if it becomes too laborious or lacks attractive rewards.

Ultimately, shops today need people to buy goods – not just walk through their front door. For these incentives to gain momentum and continue to provide great value for customers as well as retailers, a strong conversion rate from walk-ins to purchases will be essential, with mobile wallets the ideal vehicle to drive this.

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