EAT has been unveiled as the launch partner for Weve’s location-based loyalty platform Pouch, going live in a closed beta trial on Android today.
The coffee shop brand is testing the Pouch app, which uses bluetooth beacons to send opted-in push notifications with offers and product-related content, in three stores across London. The small-scale test with 100 participants will grow to include 10,000 people by the end of April.
Holly Lee from EAT revealed that the company is reviewing its whole online experience, including the potential to roll out Pouch at scale, and is also trailing self-service checkouts at its store in Heathrow. If the Pouch trial is successful, the platform will be fully integrated with EAT's point-of-sale infrastructure, offering the same functionality as the Starbucks loyalty app.
Users on any mobile network can sign up to get early access to Pouch at getpouch.com, and simply need to enter their name and email address in the app to get started. The platform will evolve to prompt people when they are in range of a store where they have an offer saved, but Weve emphasised ts potential as a 'creative conversational' tool. Users can also update settings within the app to opt out of in-store notifications.
Weve will be using its JV owners O2, Vodafone and EE to market the product, with an undisclosed but ‘ambitious’ user target for the end of the year. The food and entertainment sectors, to include storing of mobile tickets, were identified as key verticals for the early stages of the platform, with ‘a handful’ more businesses to be brought on during the trial.
The platform uses the iBeacon protocol found in Apple’s bluetooth technology, but the company is not using Apple’s iBeacons to deliver the service, instead opting for a third-party supplier. They are first going live on Android handsets, although this can be more tricky, with an iOS app promised within the month. Given that the company's contactless payments effort with Mastercard is Android-only - because NFC is incompatible with iOS devices - Sean O’Connell, director of product, said Weve is building Android expertise across the company.
Although Weve went rather quiet last year, O’Connell said the company had been working hard to solve 'mobile loyalty at the till' question. The company did three small-scale tests where users had to scan a QR code on their receipt in order to collect loyalty points. 85 per cent of participants said they would be keen to use a similar scheme beyond a trial, but Weve opted to ditch the scanning function. “The problem in the loyalty market is that the experience at the till is not quite where it should be,” he said. JV owners O2, Vodafone and EE also spent last year pooling their 22m consumers for the Weve platform.
The company’s vision for Weve involves using its display network, launched last month, to drive people in store, with a little nudge to buy a new product provided by Pouch, followed by making a contactless payment processed by Weve. “We expect this to be constantly evolving to create a higher value proposition for consumers,” he said. "People are terrified of mobile payments but are much more comfortable with loyalty. We see loyalty as a 'gateway drug' into payments."
The mobile payments standard?
O’Connell explained that after the results of the EAT trial are gathered, O2, Vodafone and EE may opt to launch their own branded versions of the app. “Pouch could also disappear into an overall wallet proposition but we’re leaving that open until we come out of the beta period,” he said. But it is likely to be the first half of next year before we see how the Pouch loyalty platform and Weve's payments effort will work together. At Mobile World Congress, the company will be demoing Pouch as a storage app for bank cards, with a view to getting them on board too.
Weve is also positioning itself to become the contactless mobile payments provider, building the Weve Acceptance Network to standardise the integration of mobile into point-of-sale. This will enable a range of third parties to use one access point to integrate with different retailers.
Asked if 3 will be involved soon, O'Connell said: "We continue to have discussions with those guys."