By Seth Daniel
Thereâ€™s nothing more frustrating than standing at the front of a checkout line fumbling for a store loyalty card or digging through oneâ€™s pocket or purse for a $1 coupon.
Likewise, going to a favorite restaurant and forgetting the loyalty program code can also throw a monkey wrench into a night out.
In such situations, tensions can rise.
Now, however, one of the hottest newÂ things in business marketing is using new technology – including Smart Phones and two-dimensional barcodes – to eliminate such frustrating situations as outlined above. Itâ€™s come to be known as â€œmobile marketing,â€ and itâ€™s the hottest new thing in retail business at the moment.
Waltham-based company CaptureCode has burst out of the gates in the mobile marketing business, going online last fall, and Revere resident Gary Ferragamo is on the front lines of the new business – operating as the vice president of sales for the company.
â€œEventually you can throw those loyalty store cards away,â€ said Ferragamo. â€œThis is brand new patented technology – state-of-the-art and one of the greatest mobile marketing systems out there…Thereâ€™s nothing like it on the planet right now.â€
So far, the business has been profiled by Fox News and the Boston Herald called it â€˜The Next Big Thing.â€™ Boiled down, the system uses a bar code thatâ€™s assigned to every person. The bar code is most commonly stored on a Smart Phone and easily and instantaneously registered electronically in the participating store. However, the bar code can also be printed out and physically carried for those not using Smart Phones.
CaptureCode CEO Tony Padam has patented the technology and Ferragamo is on the road day in, day out selling the new system – touting its convenience for customers and its tracking ability for business owners.
While customers can avoid having to carry around 10 different loyalty/store cards, businesses can also electronically track their customers buying habits – while at the same time using the bar codes to issue gift cards.
It is the only mobile marketing technology out there right now that allows all three functions.
For customers, they can be part of a targeted loyalty program that allows them discounts or specials at their favorite places. They can get e-mails detailing special sales or coupons for discounts – all of which can be stored right on one Smart Phone and accessed inside the store via the bar code.
For business owners, CaptureCode has unlimited potential for tracking the buying habits of customers that have signed up for the program.
An owner or manager can see how many times a customer has visited the store, what they bought, how much they spent, and what sales/specials they respond to.
â€œWith our technology, they can track things, really target the promotions and see whatâ€™s getting the best reaction and from whom,â€ said Ferragamo. â€œIf thereâ€™s a set of customers that respond frequently to a â€˜Kids Eat Freeâ€™ promotion, the business owner can find that out and then target those customers on the next similar promotion.â€
He continued, â€œAny business that does marketing and advertising can use this. People want to be part of a loyalty program and they want a good deal when they spend their money because times are tough. We really see this technology as unlimited. We can tell the business owner what our technology does and really itâ€™s up to the owner to figure out how they want to use it. Thereâ€™s really no end to it.â€
And while it is a very numbers-oriented approach to business and retail, Ferragamo said it is actually an innovation that brings business owners and managers closer together.
â€œIt ends up making a customer less faceless,â€ he said. â€œAn owner will know who their best customers are and can get to know all their customers in the program. You can interact with the customers and take care of them. The customers then feel special because you know who they are and what they want.â€
Right now, Ferragamo has signed up one local business, Antoniaâ€™s on the Beach, and numerous businesses in Greater Boston – including Big Popiâ€™s Grille, Kinsale, Fire & Ice and numerous other locations.
Ferragamo indicated that he believes the system could go national very soon and to many different kinds of businesses.
â€œAlmost every business can benefit,â€ said Ferragamo. â€œWe already have our feelers out for football, baseball and hockey – pro sports. Say itâ€™s 1 p.m. and thereâ€™s a game at 3 p.m. and there are 2,000 tickets left. They can press a button and offer those empty seats for half-price to all of the people on their network…This is a win-win on both ends, for the customer and the business owner.â€
Those interested in signing up for CaptureCode can sign up at participating businesses or by going to www.capturecode.com