Anticipating the Needs of the Mobile Shopper

Some mobile activity continues to move behind the scenes.

Since mobile devices are getting better at knowing where they are, it was only logical to start taking advantage of that knowledge.

Any regular user of the check-in feature of Foursquare knows that their friends can see when and where they check in. The activity is essentially a notification to friends that you arrived somewhere, but in these cases the communication is from the Foursquare user to their base of friends.

But by taking advantage of phone location, entities like Foursquare can also provide tips the other way around.

When I walked into a local coffee shop over the weekend, I instantly received a suggestion via Foursquare of what to try in that coffee shop, some tips left by previous customers.

This is what I would call anticipatory marketing, since the effort involves knowing where I am and anticipating things I might want to do while there.

The marketing content comprises the suggestions provided, based on what others experienced at that same location. All of this occurs before I actively check in, anticipating in advance what might appeal to me while there and before even asking.

The system is essentially leveraging what it knows (the location) and combining it with other past activity from that location.

Taking that a step further, when I checked in at Best Buy over the weekend, I received an instant offer from American Express suggesting that if I spent $250 at Best Buy and used my AmEx card, I’d receive $25 back.

The credit goes directly to my AmEx statement and the messages notes “no need to show in store,” making the transaction savings seamless. No salespeople to have to explain it to.

Another behind-the-scenes example is with Apple’s Passbook, so when I charge anything with American Express, I get an instant Passbook message detailing the charge.

Yet another is from digital mall aggregator Shopkick.

Before going into the Best Buy store over the weekend, I got a message from Shopkick reminding me to check in for bonus points. The reminder message came as I was in the parking lot before even entering the store.

These background reminders, such as the now-common deal offer from certain apps when near a particular store, can provide targeted, contextual messages of value.

The trick may be in balancing the number and frequency of these messages and anticipating just the right amount.

Since the where will be known, the next question may be the when.

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