The Use of Bar Code SMS in Mobile Marketing, Advertising, CRM
Anybody that frequents shopping malls are familiar with the bar coding systems used by retailers to ease the line at the pay points. No more long lines at the till as the operator just pulls the product past the scanner and voila - the buyer pays and are on their way.
What most people do not realize is that the bar coding systems entails more than just the code being scanned with the scanner. The systems normally plugs straight into a database, which is also hooked up with the accounting system and the moment the item is scanned, it deducts the item from the warehouse's inventory. Each product in the database has a minimum stock level - the moment it reaches that stock level, it sends out an alert that x amount of a product needs to be ordered. Automated, convenient, easy.
The above sample system serves to explain how and why bar codes are used in the offline or sales / Warehousing side of business. Nowadays the same principles apply to mobile technology.
With the ability of bar coding systems to be incorporated with Office functionality, convergence of technology opened a new automation arena in the business world. I am sure all of us at one point or another queued at the movie theatre to watch our favourite movie.
Just imagine no more long lines - you arrive at the movie theatre with your mobile phone, walk past a scanner where a bar code on your mobile phone is scanned and you take your seat to enjoy the movie!!! That is how easy it could be with mobile ticketing (mobile bar coding).
The process is simple - let's use e-ticketing as an example:A customer visits the venue's web site where they book and pay online. Confirmation of their booking or ticket is received on their mobile phone via bar code SMS. The client saves the bar code SMS and present their mobile phone upon arrival at the venue, where it is scanned and access allowed.
Now that is service!!!! E-ticketing will apply to many events - for example the upcoming 2010 World cup soccer in South Africa, the rugby and soccer matches which takes place weekly, conferences and events that are organized also requiring access - just to name a few.
Mobile bar coding also plays an important role in customer services (CRM). Retail stores that send out discount vouchers with snail mail could now replace the paper work with bar code SMS - on condition of course that customers give their permission. Instead of posting vouchers, retailers could SMS a bar code discount voucher to their clients. The client saves the barcode on their phone. Upon arrival at the store they present their mobile phone with the saved bar code at the pay point. The bar code is scanned in, discount allocated to the purchase total and new balance due calculated.
Besides the convenience factor the marketing department also obtains a method of measuring response on promotions. With the bar code scanner hooked up to the till, which is hooked up to the office back end and accounting system, tracking of clients making use of discount vouchers is easy to obtain. A marketing executive's dream, as reports are produced with the push of a button.
Convergence of mobile and web combined with offline/online technologies are inevitable. We believe it is the companies that join the wireless revolution that will benefit most. They will retain more clients as they show that they carry the best interest of their customers at heart through eliminating any situation that could lead to customer dissatisfaction.
Marinda Stuiver has been involved in mobile, web convergence for the past 4 years with 8 years experience in online marketing and web development. Recently convergence of technologies with the partnership formed with FirefoxIE lead to FirefoxIE SMS - a browser tool. She joined the European Mobile & Business Tech based in Europe alliance to bring more advanced mobile solutions to the market place.