Did you hear?...Text coupons, iPhone most popular with retailers and consumers

As Smartphone use continues to boom, it is perhaps no surprise that retailers are increasingly tapping into Smartphone technology to deliver coupons and other features that make the consumer experience more enjoyable in a store. SNEWS has summary details from a recent study.
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According to a November 2010 study and report by the IHL Group and RetailConnections, eight of 10 U.S. mobile phone owners either currently use or will be using mobile text coupons within the next 12 months.

Approximately 25 percent of mobile phone owners report they are already using text coupons when making a purchase, while 47 percent say they will begin using text coupons in the next 12 months. Additionally, the IHL report found that 35 percent of Smartphone users have received or redeemed a coupon they have received via text message.

No surprise then that texting is the coupon delivery method of choice for retailers. The IHL study found that 94 percent of mobile phone owners have text included in their phone plan. This makes texting by far the most popular feature of U.S. consumer mobile phone plans. Other popular features include email (80 percent) and mobile web browsing (78 percent).

Engaging in commerce

Now, however, it appears that consumers are increasingly ready to use their Smartphones to engage in commerce as well. According to the report, 41 percent of Smartphone users have checked competitive prices on their phones while in a retail store either with Amazon, Red Laser, or another comparison engine.

And for those retailers who don’t yet have optical scanning capability in the store, it may be time to upgrade. Just over 54 percent of all retailers surveyed indicated that within 12 months they will have the ability not only to deliver coupons electronically to their customers’ mobile phone, but also to scan the coupon into the POS directly from the mobile phone’s screen.

Hail the iPhone

The iPhone could likely double its market share when released on Verizon in 2011. The report found that 56 percent of current Smartphone users are seriously considering the iPhone as their next device. The report also found that 44 percent are seriously considering purchasing an Android, which, like the iPhone, should also see increased share. Only 24 percent are considering a Blackberry and 10 percent a Windows Smartphone for their next device.

Why is the above information about iPhone use important? According to the IHL study, 85 percent of U.S. retailers support consumer use of the iPhone platform, and 88 percent plan to do so in the future (see chart to the right). And while only 55 percent support the iPad platform a whopping 72 percent of retailers say they plan to support consumer iPad use in the future.

What about other platforms like Android or Blackberry? While only 50 percent of retailers currently support consumer use of the Android platform, 79 percent plan to support it in the future. Windows Mobile has 43 percent current support and 53 percent planned support, while Blackberry has only 40 percent current support but slightly higher future support at 58 percent.

Retailers using Smartphones too

Consumers aren’t the only people in a store likely to be toting Smartphones in 2011, according to the report. While Blackberry is the most common platform used by retailers for their management team today at 52 percent, there is a strong shift toward the iPhone and iPad for future use. Currently, the report found that only 19 percent of retailers support iPhones and 10 percent support iPads, but by the end of 2011 that number is expected to jump to 60 percent for iPhone and 47 percent for iPad. Android will feel some love too, rising from current use by store management of 14 percent to 33 percent by the end of 2011.

--Michael Hodgson

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