Obviously mobile wallets are a hot topic right now (or I wouldn’t be penning this post) and the dizzying number of ways to implement features means that there is not a single path to success.   Consumers are slow to adopt as a whole, but eventually they decide what makes sense to them and a majority (or enough for critical mass at least) take to the new technology in droves.  Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, and a myriad of other services that didn’t exist a decade ago are now the new norm — used by millions (more than a billion in some cases) of people on a daily basis.

As an SMB, making the decision to jump feet first (or head first if you are so inclined) into new technology can be a daunting process.  The time and dollar investment to see an initial ROI is often overwhelming, and the pressure to make the right choice can create a state of paralysis – waiting to see what the BIG thing is going to be, instead of taking small steps to start down the path and then revising the plan as needed.

In the past week, some very interesting numbers have been published — and I wanted to point out two of them specifically.

First, Starbucks.


12 million active users of the Starbucks My Rewards app, which is supplemented by Apple Passbook technology (and other wallets) – the CEO announced in this weeks earnings call that enough users engage with the app at the transactions level to generate 15% of the US revenue is derived from mobile.

Next, Hillshire Farms.

We published a link to their reported numbers  from user engagement with a beacon/wallet/app promotion they ran over the past few months in grocery stores across the United States.   Twenty times the usual purchase intent, and 36% increase in brand awareness and overall sales via the beacon/wallet/app engagement experiment was the result.  Twenty times!  That’s insanely good results for new technology (or any existing technology, campaign or sales tool!) without widespread consumer adoption and a FANTASTIC indicator of consumer willingness to be engaged by brands or stores in exchange for something of value.

Mobile wallet products are time consuming and expensive to develop, and as a merchant, your focus should be on user engagement, not making the decision about what programming language and screen size compatibility you’ll offer end users.  Selecting a platform that enables you to get straight to the heart of the matter – designing offers that consumers respond to positively – is critical at this juncture in adding a mobile wallet to your arsenal of sales tools.  Unlike the past 15 years, when buying web design services and hoping consumers would find your website, mobile wallets done correctly offer you the ability to see immediate interaction, from users in the store, when they are ready to make a purchase.

The long tail engagement is also key to getting a good wallet product – being sure that you can continue to engage users via location, time or beacons at will allows a flexibility in merchandising plans, inventory management and revenue projections.  Unobtrusive notifications processes, like simple lock screen announcements, coupled with opt-in rewards for consumers, mean that you’ll be much more likely to retain consumers in the wallet environment and reap added benefits from selective updates.