Mobeam and Its Unique Technology For The Point of Sale
It’s not every day that you run across a company in the retail industry that has a seriously unique, and potentially impactful technology. Mobeam is such a company.
I first learned about Mobeam while preparing an article and later had the opportunity to interview their dynamic CEO – George Garrick. Garrick is a serial entrepreneur with a very successful background in technology, having managed companies with hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue and over 4,000 employees. Not only that, but he has sold several of those companies, creating over $3 Billion in cashouts for investors.
Mobeam is a mobile technology which allows a smartphone to transmit a modulated infrared beam of light containing digital information which is readable by a retail checkout scanner or other appropriate receiver.
Mobeam is the only solution to complete the “final mile” of communication between the smartphone and a retail laser checkout scanner, which is unable to read from the phone’s reflective screen. The scanner “thinks” it is scanning a bar code when it is actually reading the beam. Mobeam enables a number of retail business and cashier productivity solutions such as highly targeted digital couponing; acquiring offers from gift cards, in-store beacons, etc; Since the beam is invisible and requires only milliseconds to transmit, it is virtually non-interceptable, thus all but eliminating illegal coupon copying. Mobeam enables the company’s own apps such as Beep’nGo but is also available for license by third party developers and OEM’s through the company’s SDK. One retailer currently supporting this technology is Whole Foods.
Users simply hold their phone over the scanner doing the reading.
Beep’nGo is a general purpose card management app offered by Mobeam. It can handle anything from a health club card to a gift or library card. Beep’nGo stores digital versions of your plastic barcode and QR coded loyalty gift and membership cards, even tickets – in one location.
Beep’nGo also offers coupons and deals from your favorite retailers. Beep’nGo is free of course, and can display an optical code that can be scanned. Ticketing is one area where there is great potential – the industry is based on barcodes, which are easy to copy and consumers trying to buy in the aftermarket run the risk of getting a duplicated barcode.
About Digital Couponing
In our interview, Garrick pointed out that there are roughly $500 billion in coupons that are distributed each year in the United States, with about 1% being redeemed. The testing that Mobeam is doing with digital coupons shows a redemption rate of 20%. There are plenty of reasons for that dramatic 20 fold improvement, but a key one is that people often forget to bring coupons to the store (I am guilty of that – leaving them in my car usually), but everyone has their phone with them – so nobody is forgetting to bring a digital coupon.
Mobeam is leading an industry-wide initiative in the U.S. to officially create the Mobile Manufacturer Coupon, or MMC. This will be a fully digital coupon. Mobeam is working with leading issuers of coupons, retailers, and other industry parties including GS1, to establish the MMC standard which will be available for any issuer, distributor or redeemer of coupons. Once this standard is issued, digital coupons will be usable in any retailer with a scanner. Mobeam expects this to be completed in q1 of 2016. This will also fully enable “Online to Offline” promotions since all online offers will be redeemable at retailers without the need to print them onto paper. The launch of the MMC with a GS1 standard will be disruptive to the U.S. couponing industry since it will enable fully digital coupon issuance, redemption and clearing for the first time. The MMC has numerous benefits to consumers, retailers, and CPG brands including more convenience, better targeting, reduced fraud, and greater retail efficiency.
Other benefits from digital coupons include labor savings and accuracy when reconciling the cash drawer. Since there is no paper, it is done electronically through one of the clearing houses. Garrick said that it will lead to a new phase for digital coupons, with the amount of digital coupons increasing significantly as a result of new infrastructure being in place to accommodate these coupons.
Mobeam clearly has a lot of exciting things going on, and the establishment of mobile coupon standards will be a benefit to the entire POS industry. We look forward to following up soon on progress in this area. To learn more about Mobeam, click here.
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