Few companies can say they have been better at understanding the possibilities of the mobile channel than the US retail giant Target (not to be confused with Australian Target, which is only a pure rip-off in branding and concept, although a decent store for bargains, they have no affiliation with their US counter part).
First, Target has pioneered a mobile coupon program, which allows consumers to redeem discounts at point of sale. Key to this program is that they support every phone with data access, not just smartphones. Although the concept has been tested by others, Target is the first to roll this out nationwide.
A few days ago, Starbucks announced a cooperation with Target on a mobile initiative. Starbucks has a successful application for their Starbucks card, which essentially serves as an alternative wallet. Users can pay for coffee using their app, and now the Starbucks mobile users can use their ewallet app to pay for Starbucks coffee at Target stores as well. Getting people to use their phone to pay for stuff is nothing short of brilliant, as you cannot possibly get more personalized data on a user. If they pay with cash, nobody will know the customer except for perhaps a few baristas in the stores. No doubt the cooperation between Target and Starbucks could be taken further as well, given Target’s ability to scan mobile barcodes. Use a lot of syrup and sugar? Well perhaps get 20% of loose fitting jeans :). I am sure the ideas can be more creative than this, and it is great to see a leading brand like Target showing the way on the promise of mobile as the primary digital channel for a close consumer relationship.