I still remember the days when the iPhone was this new gadget that got released to the public, and many people including a few frugal bloggers were debating about whether this thing was worth the money. The argument was that it was simply an unnecessary luxury. I personally thought this way as I am admittedly NOT an early adopter, when it comes to electronics and gadgets (yes, I know, it’s ironic, given my background). But my spouse certainly IS and therefore, at least one of us tends to make immediate purchases when something new, shiny and slick comes out of the assembly line, especially if it’s from Apple.
But fast forward a few years and you’ll see that the smartphone and the tablet, with its various incarnations and brands, are must-haves for the highly connected household. If you’re going to be part of the gadget crowd, then prepare to pay a one time fee for these toys as well as a maintenance plan of some sort to get connectivity.
Typical Costs For The Gadget-Hungry
- iPhone Price: $200 or $300 a pop
- iPhone Monthly Plan: $70 a month for an Internet connection through the mobile network if you don’t have Wifi
- iPad Price: $500 or $600 a pop
- iPad Monthly Plan: $20 a month for network connectivity if you don’t have Wifi
So for the money, you’ll have the chance to customize your remote controls, talk to anyone on the road, set your alarm and browse the Internet. But as time marches forward, so does technology, and these days, we’re looking at even more ways for your Apple gear (and similar boxes) to bend to your will. Here is my first-hand coverage of the latest in mobile shopping trends that I’ve come across via the Finovate 2011 event in San Francisco. For those who haven’t heard of Finovate before, it’s short for “financial innovation”, and refers to an annual event for technology startups in the financial and business space to converge and show off new products and applications. These products and services are geared towards consumers and/or financial institutions.
Shopping Technology Trends Using The Smartphone, Tablet or Browser
#1 Clovr Media
Here’s an interesting way to partake of consumer and retail offers and deals. Clovr Media has created the means to attach card link offers to your spending. They coined that term “card link offers” (CLOs) to be an offer that they attach to online advertising so you can get savings on the spot. As a consumer, you’d opt in your credit or debit card to link to CLOs. When you click on ads with corresponding CLOs, it is linked to your card so that when you use your card, you immediately enjoy the savings those offers provide. I’ve also mentioned them in my earlier article on financial applications at Finovate 2011.
This company has a whole bunch of products in the financial arena, most of which are web applications. But recently, they’ve come up with an iPad application called ShopSmart which allows shoppers to capitalize on online social communities (Facebook), deals programs and loyalty rewards programs. The goal here is to help you have a more efficient, productive and rewarding time while shopping. My question to Billeo is this: is ShopSmart supposed to help you with online commerce or real life shopping or both? The fact that it’s a mobile application seems to point to its use for shopping while you’re on the go (I would guess), but if that’s the case, then are we ready with the multi-tasking that shopping with a tablet entails?
They were one of the companies that won Best of Show at Finovate. So what do they do? They are in the business of marrying geolocated product offers with geolocated transactions. They want to improve the shopping experience and provide the customer targeted and more meaningful offers based on their bank transaction history. They offer a service that sends you personalized deals based on both your GPS location and information showing which merchants you’ve frequented or visited the most. If they know how you spend and where you are shopping, you could get better deals.
Yes, they are collecting your personal information, and they are now using it to build a better review site. Our collective information helps them make strong recommendations in various spending and retail categories. They also use our data to help us make decisions with our money by giving us visibility into our spending; they do this by allowing us to compare what we do against everyone else’s spending. They seem to be moving towards being an interesting type of recommendation site, with recommendation scoring systems that have consumer data to back it up. Let’s not kid ourselves — they’re getting our information and they’re doing stuff with it!
#5 Free Monee
Do monetary incentives work better to attract customers than do advertising? Free Monee hopes so. They bill themselves as the “world’s first national gift network” that connects debit and credit card owners with merchants and stores. Free Monee has access to our card transactions, and based on how we spend, they offer free gift cards (electronic, I presume) to be used as we please at the store or merchant site which offers the deal. It’s a promotional effort that’s done in lieu of advertising. Hey, it worked for Amazon’s Music Store when they offered Lady Gaga’s album for a tenth of the market price.
This company is all about helping you save money on your bills wherever and whenever possible. This time, they aim to use your bank statement information as a way to help you get discounts. Once more, this is a take on granting the consumer loyalty rewards based on their credit card statements and spending patterns. You can also help friends save money when shopping at the same merchant you’ve patronized, thanks to integration with Facebook. It looks to me that this is a hot trend where I’m seeing the retail and financial worlds collide in a fruitful, positive way that allows the consumer to “win”. There’s been a lot of collaboration between financial institutions and technology startups as of late and more of the data we share with our banks and card issuers are now finding its way in the hands of smaller companies.
We all like our credit card rewards programs and cash back credit cards — I certainly do. But eDo Interactive is taking rewards to another level. This is the first time I’ve heard of the term “Prewards”, a term coined by this company. These Prewards are “digital incentives” that are associated with payment cards (e.g. mobile wallets). Their product reminded me a bit of what BillShrink was also trying to achieve, but unlike BillShrink’s offering, this product is already live. They aim to personalize rewards such that you can redeem your “Preward” at the point of sale. Their program allows for flexible integration with financial institutions and customer channels in order to allow for customers to speedily and easily redeem their rewards. They claim to have a pretty high conversion rate of 36% from debit card deals (credit card features are still to be done). Again, they’re right smack in there, riding the mobile shopping trend.
So there are lots of stuff brewing for the mobile gadget world. Magic words for this group of innovators? Social commerce, mobile shopping, Prewards and loyalty programs. Get ready for more savings while you shop!
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