Mobile coupons aren’t a new phenomenon. Consumers have always been on the hunt to save money, and using mobile can be an effective tool for retailers to encourage consumer spending. This year, more than half of US adult internet users, or 102.5 million people, will redeem a digital coupon with any device for either online or offline shopping.

As much as mobile coupons are increasing in popularity they are often difficult to access and sometimes even harder to redeem.

Retailers today are creating redeemable offers through many different avenues via apps, mobile internet, mobile barcode, even SMS. With all the available dissemination and redemption methods, it’s difficult for digital marketers to integrate digital offers that drive traffic to brick and mortar stores in a way that is measurable and cost effective.

If you’re thinking of creating a mobile offer or coupon, be sure to consider the following friction points:

App Development

Retailers everywhere are getting in on the mobile app trend, many of which have invested a large amount of their marketing budgets to make them robust and easy to use. Apart from being expensive, apps have other flaws that marketers should be aware of when considering developing one. The major barrier to using an app is the entire download process. Many retailers seek to display mobile offers or coupons through an app’s interface and use these promotions as an instigator for downloads. The truth is, many brand’s social media communities significantly outnumber their app downloads. This means a lot of potential redeemers of offers have to go through a lengthy process to download an app. Marketers should focus on creating strong communities on social properties, where they can engage their followers often, instead of leading them to an app that can lay dormant on a mobile phone.

Bar Codes

If you’re not using a QR code on a coupon, most POS scanner’s can’t pick up on a 1D barcode. Phones today are designed to be tools for viewing photos, watching movies and playing games. This focus on high quality displays prevents existing scanner technology from actually “seeing” the bar code image on screen. Most lasers from POS barcode readers bounce off the reflective glass and backlit displays on a mobile coupon, making it nearly impossible to scan unless you have the right technology.

Starbucks Mobile Payment App

[photo via digitaltrends.com]

One of the first big brands to take on this challenge was Starbucks when they introduced their mobile payments system, where they changed a total of 6800 stores’ barcode readers so they could scan mobile phones.

Bottle Neck at the POS

The slowest portion of any retail transaction is the tendering process. Typically with a mobile coupon transaction the consumer retrieves the mobile coupon and then hands their mobile device to a cashier to scan. This process, as it repeats itself, can slow down the lines at the checkout. If you’re looking to drive frequency of spend and speed at the checkout, understand that the type of mobile coupon you try to use could slow down the entire process.

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