Posts Tagged ‘Starbucks’

A Hyper-Local Black Friday Wrap

December 8th, 2011

Checking-in to Super Savings

One of the most hectic shopping days of the year has passed, and this year’s Black Friday marked an interesting development in the marketing efforts of major retailers. Although the typical Black Friday shopper battled the crowds with a purpose and a pre-determined route, location based mobile apps enabled retailers to access the discount-driven shoppers who just can’t resist a good deal. An increasing number of companies have turned to these services to offer customers exclusive deals via their mobile devices. Accessing customers through their mobile devices has become an attractive feature for retailers as it allows them to target the sales-crazy, on-the-go shoppers who just might trample down anyone who gets in their way of a sale.

Foursquare , which recently announced they had hit 14 million users has become an important app that many retailers have paired up with to offer discounts, which customers receive once they have ‘checked in’, or shared their location. Various stores are enticing customers into their retail store mayhem by offering special discounts only available through this app. These examples pictured from Foursquare’s blog are only a few examples of the retailers targeting the media-savvy shopper, with stores ranging from AT&T to UPS also offering check-in discounts. Foursquare is not alone in its location based advertising, as companies like SCVNGR, Facebook Places, and Yelp are also offering these types of deals to sales-hungry customers for checking in.

QR Codes – The Modern Catalogue

Aside from encouraging retail madness through discounts for mobile check-ins, retailers are also using QR codes to provide customers with an easier and faster shopping experience. With Black Friday being one of the biggest sales days of the year, QR codes are becoming increasingly prevalent in retail stores. While QR codes are not a new phenomenon to the advertising world, the upcoming holiday season has retailers embedding them into a variety of marketing displays to attract mobile users. Companies such as JC Penney and Macy’s are among the many retailers that have introduced QR codes into their stores this holiday season. Sears and Kmart have created ‘gift walls’ in their stores, placed in viewing sight of those waiting in the cash line, which are essentially walls filled with QR codes linking the customer to popular items for sale. With the increase in technological innovations, mobile phones are quickly becoming the best aid a shopper can have for finding the best deals.

The numbers are growing, but what’s next?

Recent stats from AdvertisingAge showed Foursquare checkins on Black Friday as a significant increase over last year.  And while Starbucks and Mcdonald’s topped the list, Wal-Mart with over 149,000 was the leading national retailer.  But it checkins and QR codes are just the start.  Expect to see these apps and more to further expand to include real-time product inventory, mobile wallets, and even virtual goods in the form of augmented reality.  eBay Mobile announced that shoppers in the U.S. purchased nearly two and a half times as many items via eBay Mobile this Black Friday when compared to 2010 and PayPal Mobile (another division of eBay) announced a six-fold (516%) increase in global mobile payment volume compared to 2010

Shoppers will increasingly choose the convenience of mobile to find the best deals from wherever they are while avoiding big crowds and long lines. The ability to simply pick up your phone or tablet and purchase what you want, when you want it, has become an attractive alternative to shoppers in record numbers this holiday season. The possibilities are endless.

Canadian Airports Missing The Boat On Free WiFi

August 17th, 2010

By now you all know that I’m a big supporter of Free WiFi.  I believe it should be everywhere – coffee shops, restaurant chains, hotels, stadiums and of course in our airports.

The problem, has always been in trying to get the big brands and media buyers to embrace the notion of sponsored WiFi.

Well, it seems that it’s finally taking shape.

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport started offering free web access to travelers wherever they are in the airport on August 1st.  The announcement follows on other recent changes by Edmonton, Ottawa, and Calgary all in the last six months.

Pearson is on a six-month sponsorship agreement with Roger’s, said Sergio Pulla, Manager, Product Strategy Marketing and Commercial Development at the GTAA

He would not disclose the amount of the contract, but did say that the infrastructure is still provided by Boingo, and that the airport is paying Boingo a fixed monthly fee for management of the equipment and customer service.

For their part Roger’s gets exposure on the login page as well as in-terminal communications including signage, floor stickers, and logo-placement in the Flight Information Display system.

The real missed opportunity for Roger’s and other potential sponsors here is the lack of any tie-in to location-based services.  WiFi is inherently a location-based service.

Where are the coupons, offers and discounts for logging onto the network?  With a whole slew of retailers and food service providers in the airport, the GTAA and others’ are missing the boat on revenue sharing by partnering with companies like Foursquare and Gowalla.

Sponsors care about metrics and the only real way to drive the numbers, and ultimately more sponsorship is through incentive. There were about five-million paid WiFi users at the airport in 2009, among 30.4-million passengers.

Free by itself is not enough, especially when a large percentage of business travelers already have company-paid data plans for their Blackberry and iPhones.

Recent global airport studies have pegged mobile WiFi usage at almost 48% vs. laptop connections.

As our airports and restaurant chains begin to seek sponsors to pay for free WiFi networks, perhaps they should be thinking bigger.  Consumers like free, but consumers really want relevant content and offers – see Starbucks recent free WiFi and Digital Content Network announcement.

In a conversation with Federica Nazanni – GM for Windsor International Airport, I learned that they are still on the old paid WiFi system with Boingo.  The problem as Federica put it “is we want to go free, but as a feeder airport to Toronto, we aren’t able to attract the national sponsors like them.”

She also agrees that success for them will come from increasing the value of the sponsorship package through location-based ties-ins to retailers and targeted signage opportunities.

Sponsorship is definitely the way to go, but real success will come through partnership with media companies, publishers, retailers and others.

Is WiFi A Scarce Resource?

July 8th, 2010

Can you picture a world with no WiFi?

If you’re in the US or Europe, probably not, in fact there’s a good chance you’re in a coffee shop or somewhere else right now reading this while connected to a WiFi hotspot.  If you’re Canada it’s easier to imagine because other than Starbucks and Second Cup there really isn’t any WiFi.

So what would a world without WiFi look like?  Is there a problem looming on the horizon?  According to Cisco Systems, we may be in for a WiFi shortage.  You see the number of WiFi-enabled devices is growing rapidly (580 million shipped in 2009) and the spectrum available for WiFi broadcast is finite.

When it comes to devices, we know all about the smartphones, iPads, and laptops roaming around everywhere these days, but add to that digital cameras, photo frames, televisions, gaming platforms and the rest, and the demand is staggering.  It’s a rare coffee shop that doesn’t buzz with WiFi activity at all hours of the day and night. Now that Starbucks, will bring free WiFi to all locations in North America, the spectrum will be taxed even more.

Cisco, a major player in the hardware-side of the WiFi business, says smartphones use 30 times as much data as regular phones.  That’s a lot of browsing, video watching, shopping, and stock checking.  And with 1.7 million next-gen iPhones alone selling before the end of June, your favorite hotspot is swarming with even more WiFi usage than before.

You need look no further than the 1100 people in attendance for the WWDC conference at the Moscone centre where Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself couldn’t get a WiFi connection to show off his company’s latest version of the iPhone.

We’ve all had those moments, where the demand far outstrips the supply of WiFi and we get a spotty or slow or even no connection at all.  Are we using too much of the available spectrum?  Can WiFi grow to fit our gadget-loving needs?  We’re certainly going to buy more devices, but unless we increase the amount of WiFi out there, we’re all in for more Jobs-like moments in the future.

It’s not just about the proliferation of devices, but also the type of content and the amount of data being consumed on the network.  In particular, Video and location-based services like Foursquare are exploding.

Mobile TV over WiFi could be a big deal, according to a report by Juniper Research, TV over WiFi traffic could increase 25 times between now and 2015 with revenues in the $7 billion range.

It’s expected as this happens that cellular operators will turn to WiFi to offload more traffic from the already taxed 3G/4G networks.

“Cellular networks are finding it increasingly difficult to deliver high quality mobile TV services at times of peak usage: thus, the World Cup has posed particular problems with large spikes in viewing figures”, says the report’s author Dr Windsor Holden, “WiFi can ameliorate this in the short term, but this is only a partial remedy.”

A white paper exploring the changing mobile TV landscape, ‘Tuning in to Mobile TV’ is available to download from Juniper’s website.

So with more devices and more traffic on the networks, how do we solve the problem?

One interesting development that can help alleviate some of the congestion is an announcement two weeks ago by President Obama. He signed a memorandum committing the government to provide 500 MHz worth of new broadband to ease the use of electronic equipment ranging from cell phones to laptop computers.

“America’s future competitiveness and global technology leadership depend, in part, upon the availability of additional spectrum,” Obama wrote in the memorandum. “The world is going wireless, and we must not fall behind.”

Under the plan, the government will begin identifying specific sources of the new spectrum; they will come from both the public and private sectors, including television broadcast and mobile satellite facilities

The primary source of this new spectrum will actually come from what is referred to as “white spaces” this is spectrum that has already been allocated to the radio and television broadcast sector, but is not used locally.   In fact the mandated move to digital television freed up large areas between 50 MHz and 700 MHz.

The bottom line is governments need to work with the private sector to open up more spectrum on all fronts – WiFi, 3G/4G, LTE, White Spaces, etc.  The consumer demand is already there and growing rapidly.  In doing so however, we need to also give consideration to the proper balance of free and paid connectivity sources.  The availability of broadband for all is still a must!

So, as we move to create more capacity, let’s do so in a way that serves all facets of our socio-economic global community.

The Age of Smartphone WiFi

July 13th, 2009

Starbucks is one of the first places people think of at the mention of the word WiFi. The classic combination of WiFi and coffee however, is no longer the only place to get wirelessly connected since WiFi hotspots are evolving rapidly. The driving force in WiFi is the trend in mobile device technology to include WiFi chipsets.

Last week Sprint Nextel announced that a new version of the Research In Motion BlackBerry Tour 9630 will be released next year to support WiFi, as Sprint expects consumers to keep craving mobile devices capable of accessing the Internet.  As major U.S. wireless carriers continue to roll out new smartphones, the lack of WiFi in many new smartphones has left both users and carriers frustrated.

“It is now a requirement for all our PDA equipment suppliers to include Wi-Fi,” Jeff Clemow, Sprint director of business product marketing, noted in an interview with Fierce Wireless.

A recent ABI Research reports suggests that 141 million WiFi enabled smartphones will be shipped in 2009.

Many Smartphone users connect to WiFi to download new emails instead of using the bandwidth from their data plans, the gen X and Y’s are using WiFi to update their Twitter and Facebook status.

Will the future of hotspots evolve or is it constricted to cafes, restaurants and hotels?  Providing WiFi adds value for customers of these traditional WiFi hotspot venues, choosing the restaurant for a business meeting or a hotel to stay in can be partially decided by the availability of WiFi Internet service. A Reuters poll found that “47 percent of travelers make sure a hotel caters to their technology needs before they book it.”

And the shift to WiFi-enabled smartphones is changing the way other venues consider WiFi as well.  Sports complexes, like Ivor Wynne stadium and shopping malls are expanding coverage to the entire building instead of just the food courts. The portability of devices with WiFi connectivity is increasing the demand for hotspots.

It seems people want to stay connected wherever they go.  So should they have to pay every time they enter a new hotspot? I personally think not – especially in North America.  Hotels have already ready begun to hide the fee in room charges and many airports in Canada and US now have free WiFi.

Consumers are demanding free WiFi in Canada and I for one look forward to seeing the carriers and other wireless ISPs respond to this need.