Burger King, Victoria's Secret, Unilever, ShopRite Go Mobile Coupon

Four more major players threw their keypads into the mobile payment ring this week, but Burger King, Victoria's Secret, Unilever and ShopRite are all mobilizing in very different ways.

Burger King's approach is through a dedicated app for the iPhone, allowing for customers to locate Burger Kings and make pre-orders through their phone, as well as receive discounts based on purchase histories.

Victoria's Secret's new mobile experiment is more of an adjunct to its catalogue (paper and online), with the mobile app needing a catalogue number before an item can be purchased and tracked. Once a consumer accesses the little list of Limited's lecherous lithe lingerie, discounts are also offered. Unlike Burger King's discounts that are tied to a consumer's purchase history, the initial Victoria's Secret offerings are generic, such as giving any shopper spending more than $100 on the mobile site free shipping.

And in Hillsborough, N.J., consumer goods giant Uniliver—owner of Knorr, Lipton, Wishbone, Hellman's, Breyers, SlimFast, Dove, Vaseline, Lux and Knorr, among others—is running a trial at a ShopRite store that involves cashiers scanning the consumer's cellphone screen, which will display a digital coupon. Unlike Burger King and Victoria's Secret, the Unilever mobile trial only works in-store, but the coupons must first be downloaded from the Web site of Samplesaint, a Chicago vendor that is handling the Unilever New Jersey trial.

A detailed story in The Wall Street Journal about the Unilever trial put some of the challenges of the scan-the-cellphone-instore approach into context.

"The potential for entry errors and other glitches has kept some big companies from trying the format, said Landy Ung, founder of 8coupons, which provides online coupons for the New York market. Steven Boal, CEO of printable-coupon site Coupons.com, says checkout with a mobile coupon is 'fraught with peril,' ranging from incompatible devices to software bugs to phones that get dropped while being passed back and forth. In addition, many retail scanners can't penetrate a cellphone screen to read the coupon," the Journal story said. "Lawrence Griffith, CEO of Samplesaint, said his company's technology has solved most of those problems, and is expected to greatly reduce coupon fraud, since coupons will vanish from the cellphone after redemption and can't be forwarded or E-mailed. 'We have full control.'"

Dairy Queen this week is also getting into mobile coupons, but it's trial is avoiding the use of cellphones entirely, working solely with the RFID tag.

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