GSMA calls for united front in mobile loyalty

The various stakeholders in the mobile loyalty and digital couponing industry came together last week to hear about a soon-to-be published roadmap document for mass-market adoption of mobile-led loyalty schemes.

Hosted by the mobile operators network GSMA, the event – dubbed Couponing and Loyalty Seminar: embracing the technology challenge from adoption to scale – called on all parties to work alongside each other if mobile wallets and digital loyalty schemes are set to become widely accepted by UK merchants.

Presentations were made by the GSMA itself, mCommerce joint venture organisation Weve and retail technology vendors The Logic Group, Proxama and GS1, all of whom have been working in unison with the aim of steering the industry towards greater redemption levels and general acceptance of loyalty schemes via mobile devices.

This month will see the publication of a positioning document, detailing the current landscape and the benefits of industry collaboration, while in January a technical specification will be released. Both of which are proposals for the wider business community to consider, and the GSMA is keen to hear relevant feedback.

A panel discussion at last week's event, hosted by Essential Retail editor Ben Sillitoe and involving the main protagonists behind the proposed framework, rounded off the morning's debate, and allowed vendors to put their questions to those behind the proposals.

So, why is now the right time to define a common mobile specification for loyalty and couponing? Here are some thoughts from the panellists…

Paul Crutchley, strategic engagement officer at GSMA, remarked: "The main benefits of a common approach are that we are bringing together the voice of multiple industries to help support businesses – not just the mobile industry – we are helping to bring people along in the journey."

David Smith, solutions manager, digital, at GS1, commented: "What we’ve been seeing with coupons is similar to bricks and mortar and pure-play retailing. We’ll see a general evolution from paper coupons to digital. 

"How can retailers and brands engage with consumers with such high pace of change? Mobile is the device of choice for the customer."

Owen Geddes from Weve, said: "We need to make sure it's effective and will still be relevant in 24 months' time – we need standards or retailers won't invest."

Neil Garner, CEO of Proxama, suggested that for consumers to use mobile loyalty schemes, they need to be "simple, secure and relevant", and be "integrated seamlessly across existing applications".

"Retailers also need to know whether coupons have been redeemed; who redeemed them; and when, [so we are asking] 'how do we make that routing function better?'"

In his presentation to delegates, meanwhile, The Logic Group's director of customer loyalty Jon Worley stated: "As Adrian Kamelland, CEO of the Payments Council nicely put it, the noughties was the decade of the debit card and the two thousand and tens will be the decade of the mobile phone.

"By 2016 we expect to see over a third of all retail sales transactions made through digital channels."

Questions that materialised from the audience Q&A that followed seemed constructive and inquisitive, and the panellists were encouraged by the response from the wider industry.

Last week's event has helped fuel the mCommerce and mobile loyalty debate, and with the two proposal documents set to be made public in the coming weeks, there are sure to be further in-depth discussions as we move into the new year.

The route to mass market breakthrough for digital wallets and mobile loyalty programmes in retail has been a source of speculation for a number of years now but, through collaboration, the GSMA is trying to lay down a sustainable path.

Find out more about the work the GSMA is conducting in the retail space.

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