Pouch is a mobile app, set to launch on iOS and Android, that stores loyalty cards, vouchers and other content, such as news about new products, from retailers. The app also connects to in-store Bluetooth low-energy (BLE) devices – otherwise known as beacons – so retailers can target customers with messages in-store by sending push notifications to their mobile phones.
Weve is currently trialling the app with a self-selected user pool of just 100 people, but it plans to allow first 1,000 and then 10,000 registrations as the trial builds momentum. The trial is set to accelerate from alpha to beta by April or May this year, across both Android and iOS.
By that point it also hopes to announce other retailers within the food and entertainment categories that have come on board as well as marketing plans. Those could include Weve’s three joint shareholders EE, O2 and Vodafone adding their branding to the app: “Pouch from EE”, for example.
Sean O’Connell, Weve’s director of product development, said at a roundtable event with press at the company’s head office in London today (17 February) that Pouch solves the issue of not being able to connect voucher and offer redemption with the customers who redeemed them
Initially Eat will allow deployment of the app in two of its stores, which marks the first time beacons have been used in-store in the UK, Weve claims.
The partnership with Weve is the latest stage in Eat’s move to overhaul the its in-store and online experience, following a £12m investment from the company’s backers, private equity company Lyceum Capital. To date that has included the roll out of brighter staff uniforms and signage, digital screens and the introduction of self-service tills.
Holly Lee, Eat’s group marketing manager, says Pouch has the opportunity to be a “strategic pillar” in its communications because it allows the company to access more information about customer behaviour and how that can be influenced.
She told Marketing Week the brand will be trailing different types of messages to gauge a level of user acceptance about being targeted in-store. One such option will be the promotion of its soon to be launched breakfast hot pots range.
“Creativity is the key part of all of this. Offers form a factor but we don’t want to depreciate the value of the brand in any way – this is about added value,” she added.
Stuart Evans, general manager of loyalty company ICLP, says mobile opens up “massive opportunities” to drive loyalty through gamification and instant reward but Pouch may struggle to gain traction through lack of brand recognition.
He adds: “The big thing that jumps to mind is brand trust: as a consumer I don’t know Weve and Pouch is unbranded as yet by the carriers, so effectively a no-brand tech start-up.”
Weve also announced the launch today of an “Acceptance Network” designed to provide a set of standards and a common platform for retailers to sign up for loyalty, offers and other non-payment mobile marketing services. Weve says it will provide more detail on the network, including the first retailers to sign up, next month.
Earlier this month Weve formed a partnership with Mastercard to bring contactless payments to mobile phones via banking brands’ mobile apps.
In January Weve announced the launch of its display ad service trial.