Wow Bao Sets Path for Mobile Success

By Geoff Alexander, Managing Partner, Wow Bao | January 18, 2011

It is hard to ignore consumers’ growing use, and dependence upon, mobile phones. Market research firm Nielsen predicts that smartphone penetration will overtake feature phones by the end of this year; and by 2014, 142.1 million consumers, approximately 53.9% of American mobile phone users, will be accessing the Internet via mobile browsers and applications. Therefore, as consumers continue to use smartphones in every aspect of their lives, it is essential for restaurateurs to adopt mobile platforms. In doing so, operators will be able to leverage an additional channel to engage consumers, and ultimately increase revenue and customer loyalty.
 
Wow Bao, a restaurant concept from Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, recognized this potential, and last year sought to add mobile engagement to its roster of innovative customer-facing technologies, including online ordering and in-store kiosks. In May 2010, the company partnered with Mocapay, a mobile consumer engagement platform, to mobile-enable its Asian fare restaurants, and to provide customers with exclusive offers and the ability to securely pay for menu items.
 
Wow Bao chose Mocapay due to the platform’s ability to provide flexibility and scalability in its growing restaurant business. Mocapay’s hardware and tender agnostic architecture enabled Wow Bao to forego expensive hardware upgrades, while creating a path for a NFC solution down the road. Wow Bao choose to accept mobile payments through the use of 2D barcode readers and Mocapay’s six-digit code, communicated via voice. Mocapay’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform was live on Wow Bao’s MICROS point-of-sale (POS) system in less than 30 days. The actual installation took only 27 minutes on the existing POS equipment.
 
Strategic uses
There are a number of ways that Wow Bao utilizes the platform to strengthen customer loyalty. For instance, Wow Bao actively engages customers, skeptics and the occasional unhappy customer through Facebook and Twitter. The Mocapay platform has increased the value of that engagement by allowing for the delivery of mobile comp cards in real-time to customers after receiving their mobile phone numbers. Using a VIP virtual terminal, Wow Bao sends money, via the comp cards, directly to customers’ phones in real-time. Wow Bao’s VIP comp cards have been extremely successful with a 24 percent redemption rate at the point-of-sale and a nearly $10.00 average ticket. Wow Bao also sends mobile reminders to customers who haven’t redeemed their card or who still have a remaining balance.
 
In addition to the mobile comp card functionality, Wow Bao creates, monitors, and measures mobile marketing campaigns in real-time via Mocapay’s embedded mobile marketing engine. Wow Bao’s mobile marketing campaigns, in return, provide valuable information including redemption rates and purchasing behavior. This data offers a clearer picture of Wow Bao’s customers, allowing for a more targeted and personal relationship with every interaction.
 
Ongoing results
To date, Wow Bao has seen positive responses from its mobile platform. For example, when Wow Bao introduced its mobile initiatives at the 2010 National Restaurant Show, the company sent attendees a code to receive a $20.00 Wow Bao comp card. As a result, Wow Bao saw a 25 percent response for activation and a 40 percent redemption rate on this offer.
 
Similar results occurred in October when the company ran a three-hour mobile promotion for its breakfast menu. Customers who were a part of the mobile program were sent a mobile message to receive a free breakfast bao between 7am-10am the next morning. The promotion saw an eight percent redemption rate, which is three to four times the average of direct mail coupon redemption, according to the Direct Marketing Association.
 
Lessons learned
Wow Bao came away from this experience with a few key points of advice for other companies looking to deploy a mobile marketing campaign:
  • Pick a platform and go with it 100%: You can’t do everything, and more importantly, you cannot do everything right. Define your goals and expectations up-front and do everything that you can to drive toward those.
  • Don’t just be a billboard: You must actively engage customers in order to continue to improve your program. Your customers want to be involved with your brand so be sure to listen to their feedback so that you can continue to deliver a tool that is useful. None of us are experts.
  • Marketing is essential: Once you have added a mobile platform it’s extremely important to promote what you are doing so that customers will know that it exists. Wow Bao promotes its mobile component through in-store signage, social networking channels and industry events.
  • Patience is a virtue: Nothing happens overnight. Be prepared to deal with the headaches that are associated with integration issues and a number of other challenges. Creating a mobile program takes time, effort and patience. However, it is very rewarding. It gives merchants a leg up because it’s the most engaging way to communication with your customers.
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