I keep seeing all these mobile loyalty companies coming out that claim to have figured it out. I had the opportunity to sit down with the presidents from Loyalty Group and Points.com and to discuss this topic with them recently. At Sweet Tooth we have had the chance to launch a mobile app several times. Here is why we didn't:
Poor customer engagement
Do you seriously expect each one of your customers to download an app on their personal phone, register their details with your company, then visit your retail location - all just to be marketed to? Maybe you'll get some sample people just checking it out to see what it is, but you sure as hell are not going to get that kind of adoption rate with anything beyond your early adopters.
Currently no system can measure the ROI accurately or the companies that can just are not reporting it. If it was good, you'd see it on their front page. My educated guess: it's not great.
Mobile is another channel. I believe you should try to tackle many channels with your loyalty strategy, but don't expect the functionality to do anything cool on your POS without hiring a dedicated development partners team to code something crazy up. Expect discounts in your system to be crude, and tacking the result to be disjoint.
All this being said, I do believe that mobile loyalty will eventually become something that everyone should look at in the future.
So when will mobile loyalty become something that retailers should implement?
The answer is when POS goes mobile. When we can accept mobile payments in-store then that link between the brick and mortar world and the online world will be together at last- a relationship that has been awkward for years now.
Square is working on some cool stuff, so is Google Commerce and so is PayPal Here. Watch these guys' initiatives closely if you want to take your loyalty strategy to mobile. We certainly will be watching these companies in anticipation as well, but for now, don't waste your time with mobile loyalty.