Commentary

The Mobile Coupon App That Didn't Make It

As in any growth market, not all mobile commerce innovations will make it over time, no matter how innovative or well-intentioned.

One recent mobile commerce fatality is Endorse, the shopping app that provided customer value while also bypassing the retailer.

With Endorse, a shopper would receive about 10 coupons each week, theoretically tied to their past purchase behaviors. The twist was that rather than cashing in the coupons in the store, the consumer could photograph and upload the receipt when they got home.

Within an hour or two, the app would notify the shopper that the coupons were redeemed and credit the account the cash amount, which could be paid at any time by check or PayPal account transfer.

I wrote about endorse late last year in the column Coupon Redemption Comes Home. The promise of Endorse was that the system would get to better understand purchase habits over time and fine-tune its coupon serving to each individual.

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“The more receipts someone has in their account, the more personalized and targeted the offers will become,” Steven Carpenter, Endorse Founder and CEO, told me at the time.

I’m not sure how the fine-tuning over time went, since I continued to receive irrelevant coupons based on demographics or past purchases.

Over the last many months, I continued to use Endorse and pretty routinely uploaded receipts. My account had reached $46. Granted, not a large amount of money but it was all for products I likely would have purchased anyway.

In a blog post yesterday, Carpenter notified its customers the business was shutting down:

“We are writing to let you know that as of today, June 19, 2013, we are closing the Endorse service. You will no longer be able to receive product offers, to upload receipts, and to earn cash back and points using the Endorse mobile app.”

I had gotten quite fond of the app so am sorry to see it go. But then again, the mobile consumer marketplace knows what it will – and won’t – do.

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OMMA mCommerce, July 15, New York. IHG, MasterCard, Joule, ScanBuy, Huge, Spyderlynk, Rue La La, BYNDL, Catalina, Giant Eagle, Payvia, Ansible, Moxie Interactive coming. Here’s the AGENDA.

6 comments about "The Mobile Coupon App That Didn't Make It".
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  1. Stan Valinski from Multi-Media Solutions Group, June 20, 2013 at 6:45 p.m.

    Enjoyed the synopsis Chuck. Interesting case study. Do any of the founders or analysts have a reason why they did not receive the critical mass necessary for survival?

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, June 20, 2013 at 11:02 p.m.

    Thanks Stan, am working on finding that out. Was a pretty cool app, IMHO.

  3. Stephanie Kovner Bryant from SKB Consulting LLC, June 21, 2013 at 7:45 a.m.

    IMHO there are two issues with this model. First, asking consumers to photograph receipts is a barrier to many consumers. (They need to remember to photograph it.) Second, they like get the discounts at time of purchase. (Nothing better than seeing the total decrease at checkout as opposed to remembering what they have in their redemption account.) Endorse worked against both of these. Digital/mobile coupons should make the process seamless, easier and instant. Not make more work for consumers.

  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, June 21, 2013 at 11:31 a.m.

    Your reasoning is dead on, Stephanie. Serious behavioral changes in coupon redemption and the notion of not being instantly gratified are challenging, at the least.

  5. kelly brieger from kbpr, June 25, 2013 at 6:38 p.m.

    I think the real model is each brand making their own programs, including loyalty and coupons. Then, customers will get the apps that they already frequent and maybe try out a few others to expand. Check out 7-Eleven's new mobile apps (which offers me many coupons each day/week), Michael's has a cool one too. Bed Bath & Beyond should consider having a mobile app that resembles their physical flyer. Starbucks is a great model that has taken off for obvious reasons. anyway, the world of mobile coupons is just beginning (showrooming, gamification, dynamic pricing, omnichannel unification, and more are soon to come).

  6. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, June 25, 2013 at 7:51 p.m.

    You make several good points here, Kelly, with some great examples, thank you. We agree: this is just at the early stages.

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