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Motorola's Mobile Loyalty Solution

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Recognizing consumers' need to use mobile phones while shopping, Motorola has launched Mobile Loyalty Solution, which serves as an extension of existing loyalty card programs or as the basis for new digital efforts.

The service, unveiled at the National Retail Federation's annual convention in New York last week, enables retailers to send offers and incentives to customers' mobile phones, eliminating the need for membership cards and paper coupons. At the same time, those merchants are using it to build a database of shopper product interests, purchase habits and preferences. The offering is compatible with the majority of U.S. mobile phones and allows retailers to target consumers with the best offers and discounts on products that interest them.

Consumer use of mobile coupons will ring up close to $6 billion globally, according to Juniper Research, Schaumburg, Ill. Motorola said its Mobility Loyalty Solution is the first in a planned series of mobile commerce offerings from its enterprise mobility solutions division.

"With a growing number of smartphone users and the enhanced capability of their operating platforms, an era -- where a constant digital connection via a mobile phone enhances the consumer's shopping experience -- has begun," said Dana Warszona, global lead for the m-commerce portfolio, enterprise mobility solutions. "From enabling consumers to easily search for product information to completing transactions, the mobile phone has become a business-critical tool that retailers must incorporate into their strategy to meet the needs of customers, now and in the future."

This is how the service works: Customers can opt in to the program online or in the store by text messaging a code to indicate interest in receiving offers on their mobile phone. They then receive a mobile application with a bar code on their phone that acts as the shopper's identifier or mobile loyalty card, which can be scanned at the point of sale.

Kerr Drug, a Raleigh, N.C.-based regional drugstore chain, doesn't have an existing loyalty card program. The retailer is one of the first to sign up for the Motorola service and is currently conducting a test in its Raleigh home market before doing a soft launch in April. (Motorola declined to identify which retailers have signed up for the service.)

"This is a wonderful option for us," said Diane Eliezer, Kerr Drug's director of marketing, as she ticked off its benefits. "It's a new touch point . . . with consumers and like a lot of pharmacy chains, our customers skew older so this gives us access to a new kind of consumer. It allows us to contact people the way they want to be contacted today. People are never without their mobile."

Another plus for Eliezer is the ability to use the service to build a customer database and for Kerr Drugs, a privately held regional operator, it offers a more financially viable alternative to the hundreds of thousands of dollars used to build more conventional customer loyalty programs.