Minyard markets add 'app-less' shopper engagement program

Retailers are busily adding apps and developing mobile loyalty programs, but Minyard Sun Fresh Market has rolled out an "app-less" shopper engagement program the lets users access a detailed mobile experience by sending a text.

Here's how it works: Shoppers text "FRESH" to an identified number. The app-less mobile web platform then utilizes text/SMS short codes to send shoppers to a Minyard Sun Fresh Market mobile microsite where they can access circulars, product information, reviews and location information.

While retailers are building their own apps or sitting on the sidelines weighing the benefits of a mobile site over an app, solutions are popping up that bridge that gap to provide a positive mobile experience.

Native apps aren't right for all retailers, but can be for some. National chains such as Target (NYSE:TGT) and Walmart (NYSE:WMT) have the kind of shopper frequency and marketing reach to make the effort pay off, but research has shown that most shoppers don't want or won't use most apps once downloaded.

"Many retailers are building their own apps. We believe that's a very bad idea," said Andrew Levi, founder and CEO of Blue Calypso, developer of the platform. "Shoppers don't want to have an app for every retailer. Adoption is poor, except for a handful such as Starbucks, and the distance between the top 10 apps and the rest is massive."

Short code solutions aren't new, but are getting attention as a retail enablement technology, according to Levi. It's a mobile-browser based experience with no barriers to adoption. And unlike apps, it's platform agnostic and works with iOS and Android devices. Stores just need a robust cellular signal inside.

The Texas-based grocery chain initially tested the program in two stores and, within two weeks, expanded it to all 12 Minyard Sun Fresh locations in the Dallas market and plans to include the 25 stores operating under the Minyard Food Store banners.

"At Minyard, we are continuously looking for ways to improve the customer's in-store experience while saving them time and money," said Ray Schalek, owner of Minyard Food Stores. "Blue Calypso's technology allows us to offer a more modern and streamlined purchasing journey with analytics that help educate our team on the buying behaviors, preferences and needs of our clientele, benefitting all parties in the buying process."

Retailers can also capture valuable shopper data such as location intelligence, reporting and insights on a shopper's path-to-purchase, content interaction, attribution and conversion.

Short code isn't a push-message solution and won't support proximity marketing. At least not yet. Blue Calypso is developing beacons to take advantage of the coming wave of NFC use. Currently, newer model iPhone's contain the NFC chip, but Apple hasn't given mobile platform developers access to create NFC solutions.

"The holy grail of next generation mobile shopping is when Apple opens up NFC to developers to leverage the protocol to push information to shoppers," Levi said. "We are eagerly anticipating Apple opening that up."

For more:
-See this Blue Calypso press release

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