Category Archives: Deals

Pinterest: Buyable Pins and the Evolution of Social Commerce

Pinterest has great goals for its new Buyable Pins program, which it believes will make social commerce relevant again, and mobile shopping usable. During a keynote at Cardlinx’s “Data Driven Commerce” event Sept. 22 in Bellevue, WA, Pinterest’s Head of Commerce Business Development Tiffany Black said the two month old program enables mobile and social commerce for a new generation for which social commerce has died, and mobile shopping is “terrible.

“There’s nothing ‘Group’ about Groupon anymore,” Black quipped, referring to its current identification as a marketplace. She also argues that social gamification sites such as Sneakpeek are also done (although we would argue that other social game sites such as MOGL and Lucky Diem have plenty of life left in them).

In any case, Pinterest shouldn’t be lumped in the same categories, says Black. It is a “forward looking,” “visual discovery platform,” “where people are thinking about tonight, tomorrow and next month. “Pinners are planning for their future,” she said.

They are also highly oriented towards mobile. Eighty percent of Pinterest’s 100 million monthly users come in via mobile devices.

While there have been complaints about the Pins turning Pinterest into a schlocky shopping mall, Black says it is only as commercial as its users want it to be, since it is entirely personalized. Top pins are food and drink, fashion, home improvement, health and fitness, cats and travel, she notes.

There’s also no problem with the merchants, which receive buyer information to confirm every purchase, with Pinterest merely acting as a common carrier. Currently, Pinterest is enabling purchases for 5,000 merchants and two million products.

BoA Sees Card Linked Offer Program Deepening Customer, Merchant Relationships

Bank AmeriDeals was launched in 2012 with the most ambitious marketing effort in the card linked offer space. Since then, the promotions program has given BoA insight into spending for over 35 million accounts, and helped deepen customer and merchant relationships, says BoA’s Alfred Hamilton, SVP of Bank AmeriDeals, during remarks on Sept. 22 at Cardlinx’s “Data Driven Commerce” event in Bellevue, WA.

Noting that customer attrition has gone down among Bank AmeriDeals users, Hamilton says that customers have gone from being leery of having their spending habits scrutinized in order to target them with better offers to actually wanting more specific targeting. “We’ve come a long way from ‘this is creepy,’ he says. “Customers expect offers to be very, very targeted.”

Bank AmeriDeals continues to make the safeguarding of consumer data a top priority, however. “No customer data leaves the bank,” Hamilton emphasizes. “We don’t have insight into all your wallets, just your BoA wallet.” That insight has proved critical for showing businesses how much incremental business AmeriDeals is providing them. As “retailers are getting more astute in this space, they need to know that this is incremental business we are getting for them,” says Hamilton.

Separately, Hamilton notes that Bank AmeriDeals is riding the wave from desktop towards mobile payments. With 18 million Bank of America customers now using mobile banking services, desktop-oriented online banking has become increasingly “kind of passe,” he says.

Hamilton’s insights into the positive impact of card linked offers were seconded at the event by Cardlytics U.S. Operations President John Brown. Cardlytics is the vendor providing the platform for Bank AmeriDeals, among other bank efforts.

Speaking generally, Brown said that card linking has multiple benefits for financial institutions beyond direct revenue – al leading to more engagement and less attrition. He notes that users do more online and mobile banking after activation, increasing their monthly sessions from 7.9 times a month to 9.1. times a month. They also increase their total monthly spend after their first redemptions by 5-7 percent;. It also helps boost a financial institutions’ CRM program because the interest in seeing offers plays a role in boosting email open rates by 2x, and click through rates by 10x.

Brown also says that the roster of companies providing card linked offers is getting increasingly stronger. While many brands are watching early results before they sign on, brands such as McDonald’s and Nordstrom Rack are participating and attracting redemptions from well heeled consumers. “Upscale people eat at McDonald’s as much as anyone else,” he says.

Microsoft Earn: CLO Effort Aligns ‘Time, Location, Context, Commerce’

Microsoft continues to push ahead with its card linked offer program, which has been in Beta in Washington, Arizona and Massachusetts since May. But since we last wrote about it in April, the program has been rebranded from Bing Offers to Microsoft Earn. The program is now more oriented towards promotional redemptions at The Microsoft Store. Registrants can earn points at participating merchants towards Microsoft products.

Participants in Microsoft Earn include hundreds of local restaurants, as well as national brands with local outlets. THey include 7-Eleven, Starbucks, Papa John, Whole Foods, Shell and Pet Smart. 1-800-Flowers is also participating.

Speaking at Cardlinx’s “Data Driven Commerce” meeting in Bellevue, WA, GM of Holistic Monetization Erik Jorgensen says “merchant acceptance is shifting from skeptical to believers.” CLO represents “a great signal for measuring the impact of the digital world to the real world.” It provides “friction free, almost magical consumer experiences.”

Early results have been promising with “member acquisitions easier and engagement great than anticipated,” said Jorgensen. “Meanwhile, customer confusion and support (issues) have been less than anticipated.”

Microsoft Director of Payments Will White said that CLO is an anchor product for a new generation of commerce built around wallets and authentication (“vitally important”), ease of use and personalization. CLOs “align time, location, context and commerce,” he said. The idea is to use signals to offer the right things at the right time.

LivingSocial Launches Card Linked Offers for Restaurants

LivingSocial – which has played Avis to Groupon’s Hertz in the prepaid space –has been in retrench mode under new CEO Gautam Thakar. Today, it announced a new Card Linked Offer (CLO) loyalty program for restaurants called Restaurants Plus. The program is launching in Atlanta with 100 restaurants, to be followed up with a launch “very soon’ in Washington D.C., where LS is headquartered.

Under the program, which has echoes of LivingSocial’s groundbreaking “Walk In” mobile deals in 2011, restaurants decide when they want to promote a special, and how much they want to discount (up to 30 percent). They can change the offer throughout the day. For instance, they can discount more heavily after dinner. As with other CLO providers, the idea is to do away with vouchers and coupons. Once customers register a credit or debit card, they only need to present the card to receive a discount.

Customers can use LivingSocial’s mobile Web or desktop app to access the Restaurants Plus directory, which also displays the savings and times that restaurants are offering cash back. A minimum amount of cash back must be reached, or the savings roll over into the next month. Here is a video about the program.

Restaurants in Atlanta’s program range from cafes and ice cream shops to breweries and full-service They include Campagnolo, Corner Pizza, Gekko Sushi and Lounge, Gordon Biersch (Buckhead), Henry’s Midtown Tavern, Meehan’s Public House and Murphy’s Atlanta Restaurant.

Speaking at the Cardlinx “Data Driven Commerce” event on Sept. 22 in Bellevue,WA, CRO Doug Miller noted that “the opportunity to do something with cardlinking and media is powerful” — especially at the local level. “The sexiest place for that is local. You can influence the local decision. A lot of money is being spent in the local space.” In LivingSocial’s analysis, card linked offers brings it closer to several attribution points, including “Premium merchants,” “approachable sophisticates,” “discover my city,” and “saves me money.”

Shopping Malls as Local Rewards Targets? Starwood Partners with Spring

Shopping Malls get a lot of foot traffic, but other than some email and newsletter marketing, haven’t really had success parlaying their brand and their consumer loyalty to online marketing efforts.

Starwood Retail Partners is seeking to change that with the rollout of “Oh, So Simple Rewards” at the Chicago Ridge Mall. The launch will be followed by three additional markets by the end of 2015, and all 29 Starwood properties during 2016, reaching 3000 retailers locations and more than 100 million annual consumer visits. The rewards program is a partnership with Spring Rewards Network, which says its mission is to connect digital marketing efforts to in-store sales.

For consumers, the one-step signup process links an existing Visa, MasterCard, or personal American Express credit or debit card to an Oh, So Simple Rewards account. Members can connect as many of their cards to the account as they wish. They will then automatically earn credit for purchases made across the entire mall and receive real time notifications for cash back rewards. When the shopper spends $250 at Chicago Ridge Mall stores, they will automatically earn a $10 credit connected to the card(s) registered to their rewards account. Members can use their earned cash value at a retailer they choose.

At the Chicago Ridge Mall, the Rewards program will be promoted via kiosks, signage etc. In return, the malls receive a small percentage of spending and also incents its customers to return more regularly and spend more. (malls typically receive a percentage of gross receipts).

Groupon Joins Food Delivery Wars

Groupon today announced it would join the online food delivery space, acquiring Baltimore-based OrderUp, which has O&O and affiliated delivery service in 40 markets. Most of the markets are college towns, which is a strongpoint for food delivery.

As Crain’s Chicago Business reports, OrderUp — Uber for your Burrito — raised $7 million in 2014 from investors that included former Living Social CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy, who had been an archrival of Groupon. The service was founded in 2009 and has a strong orientation towards buying existing food delivery services, rebranding them and then reselling them as franchises.

Groupon’s move extends its relationships with restaurants and other food providers. It is consistent with its efforts to migrate these advertisers from occasional deals into its “always on” marketplace, where it enjoys a well-rounded relationship based on the provision of offers, advertising, analytics, payments and Point of Sales.

It had been reported in April that Groupon was seeking to divest its Breadcrumb analytics, payments and Point of Sales business to a competitor such as Square. The acquisition of OrderUp could be less synergistic if Breadcrumb was actually divested.

With the OrderUp acquisition, Groupon will compete against other, more established food delivery companies, including Grubhub/Seamless, Yelp’s Eat24 and Rather than focusing on winning market share against these players, it seems more likely that Groupon will initially seek incremental sales that support its broader initiatives.

Wanderful Bets on Mobile ‘Cash Dash’

Wanderful Media, the newspaper-owned promotions company, has expanded on its original Find&Save coupon portal, which now includes 500 national and regional merchants, and 18,000 brands. The new expansion efforts are focused on Cash Dash, a geolocation promotions feature found within the Find&Save Apps, and Coffee Table, an iPad-oriented retailer catalog that it acquired at the end of 2014.

The big bet is on expanding Cash Dash, which puts Wanderful’s network – which not only includes Wanderful’s newspaper owners, but also key Yellow Pages and others — into the world of incentive promotions. The original version sent promotions to shoppers while they are at retail stores and presumably, in a shopping context. A typical offer might be “Spend $15 at Walgreens, get $5 back from Find&Save.”

These aren’t real time, card-linked offers, which would provide real time feedback; more comprehensive buying information; and ties with financial institutions. In the interest of simplicity, no credit card is used. Instead, consumers snap a picture of their receipt to validate (and track) their spending on a personalized basis. The new improved version adds additional capabilities designed to add shopper frequency and spending, including a “Cash Cart” that lets shoppers select items from a weekly circular ad to create their own cash back offers.

All of the efforts require consumers to get comfortable taking photos of their receipts, and to remember to do so — something that Wanderful execs say has not been an issue.

Speaking about Cash Dash at BIA/Kelsey’s NATIONAL event in March, Dallas Morning News SVP of Business Development and Niche Products Grant Moise noted that major retailers wanted a one stop mobile promotions solution. “It has driven up to $100,000 in sales for some advertisers,” he said at that time.