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Greg Bel

Why I Love Venmo  
 In the past few years, mobile payment apps have flooded the market, with some dominating in specific sections. Apps like   PayPal  ,   Square  ,   LevelUp  ,   Chirpify   and   Dwolla   have all taken their place within the industry. For my group of friends, our go to payment app is   Venmo  . 
 Behind Starbucks,  Venmo is the second most used payment app , racking up an average of  seven payments  per month.  Among age groups, Venmo users comprise the youngest category (18-24-year-olds). Young people love Venmo. It makes paying someone fun and simple. Business Insider recently  reported  that Venmo is now officially a verb. “Like Google, Xerox, and Facebook, mobile payments startup Venmo has already achieved that rare and highly coveted milestone in the product services world: its name has been verbalized.” I’ve heard my own friends say to each other,  “Dude, just Venmo me.”  Venmo has revolutionized mobile payments, making it a social interaction rather than a formal and tedious exercise. 
 There’s instant gratification about being paid right back. Gone are the days of worrying about giving your friend change for a $20 or them paying you back in drinks the next time you go out. You literally can get the exact amount you need within seconds of paying the bill. If you have a credit/debit card and a smartphone, there’s no excuse not to have it … unless you have no friends : ( 
  Featured photo from  Venmo’s 2013 Office Tour  on Business Insider

Why I Love Venmo

In the past few years, mobile payment apps have flooded the market, with some dominating in specific sections. Apps like PayPal, Square, LevelUp, Chirpify and Dwolla have all taken their place within the industry. For my group of friends, our go to payment app is Venmo.

Behind Starbucks, Venmo is the second most used payment app, racking up an average of seven payments per month.  Among age groups, Venmo users comprise the youngest category (18-24-year-olds). Young people love Venmo. It makes paying someone fun and simple. Business Insider recently reported that Venmo is now officially a verb. “Like Google, Xerox, and Facebook, mobile payments startup Venmo has already achieved that rare and highly coveted milestone in the product services world: its name has been verbalized.” I’ve heard my own friends say to each other, “Dude, just Venmo me.” Venmo has revolutionized mobile payments, making it a social interaction rather than a formal and tedious exercise.

There’s instant gratification about being paid right back. Gone are the days of worrying about giving your friend change for a $20 or them paying you back in drinks the next time you go out. You literally can get the exact amount you need within seconds of paying the bill. If you have a credit/debit card and a smartphone, there’s no excuse not to have it … unless you have no friends : (

Featured photo from Venmo’s 2013 Office Tour on Business Insider

An Overview of Mobile Trends in the Restaurant Industry  
 Mobile strategy in the restaurant industry is in its infancy stage. Many restaurants are slow to adapt to the changing tide of mobile innovation.  Yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel - a few restaurants, in an effort to distance themselves from the competition and gain an edge, have taken to developing unique and sophisticated mobile apps that increase consumer traffic and drive revenue. Straying away from the simple apps used by the majority of venues, which include basic information like a menu, locations, and nutritional information, these brands have apps that incorporate innovative and remarkable features. I’ve outlined just a few apps that fall into this category and what they’re doing to separate themselves from the crowd. 
  As of 2014, 35% of  restaurant apps  include an ordering option.  In Q3 2013,  digital sales were 40%  of Domino Pizza’s revenue and their mobile app had over 10 million downloads. Papa John’s saw  more than 45% of all orders come from digital . The ordering options on these apps are easy, simple, and efficient. Loyalty sections of a restaurant app have also shown huge success. Starbucks’ app rewards its 10 million users with free coffee and food once they hit a certain number of purchases. This helps generate their  4 million transactions per week .  
  The final piece integrated into some of the best restaurant mobile apps is location based marketing.  Research showed that 38% of consumers in the United States have used a mobile coupon to purchase an in-store product. Quizno’s location-based campaigned netted a 20% increase in redemption.  Outback Steakhouse  geo-conquests their competitors by geo-fencing them and sending ads to those locations. A sneaky little trick but it seems to work. 
 These are a few of the ingredients for a terrific mobile app in the restaurant industry. As for the future, I’m guessing we will see more and more restaurants contribute to the innovation. 

An Overview of Mobile Trends in the Restaurant Industry

Mobile strategy in the restaurant industry is in its infancy stage. Many restaurants are slow to adapt to the changing tide of mobile innovation.  Yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel - a few restaurants, in an effort to distance themselves from the competition and gain an edge, have taken to developing unique and sophisticated mobile apps that increase consumer traffic and drive revenue. Straying away from the simple apps used by the majority of venues, which include basic information like a menu, locations, and nutritional information, these brands have apps that incorporate innovative and remarkable features. I’ve outlined just a few apps that fall into this category and what they’re doing to separate themselves from the crowd.

As of 2014, 35% of restaurant apps include an ordering option. In Q3 2013, digital sales were 40% of Domino Pizza’s revenue and their mobile app had over 10 million downloads. Papa John’s saw more than 45% of all orders come from digital. The ordering options on these apps are easy, simple, and efficient. Loyalty sections of a restaurant app have also shown huge success. Starbucks’ app rewards its 10 million users with free coffee and food once they hit a certain number of purchases. This helps generate their 4 million transactions per week

The final piece integrated into some of the best restaurant mobile apps is location based marketing. Research showed that 38% of consumers in the United States have used a mobile coupon to purchase an in-store product. Quizno’s location-based campaigned netted a 20% increase in redemption. Outback Steakhouse geo-conquests their competitors by geo-fencing them and sending ads to those locations. A sneaky little trick but it seems to work.

These are a few of the ingredients for a terrific mobile app in the restaurant industry. As for the future, I’m guessing we will see more and more restaurants contribute to the innovation. 

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The Domino’s Pizza App

Let’s face it: picking up the phone and ordering a pizza is just too energy consuming. We want a way to order food that’s easy…and calling a restaurant is just too damn hard. Mary wrote about the On-Demand Delivery trend earlier this week - and now I share one of my favorite examples, the Domino’s Pizza app, which makes ordering effortless. 

That’s a lot of Pizza

As of January 2014, the Domino’s Pizza app has over ten million downloads with 2013 digital sales amounting to $1.3 billion. In Q3 last year, digital sales were 40% of Domino’s revenue. 

It’s just so simple. The quick process lets you choose your location, customize your order, and checkout. With the addition of “pizza profiles,” you can store your information and recent food order, which makes the process even shorter. If you’re a returning customer, you don’t need more than 30 seconds to order your food. And then there’s the Domino’s tracker, which lets you track the order through the entire delivery process. Pretty cool stuff!

Similar to Starbucks, the Domino’s app is a call-to-action for innovation across the industry. Restaurants need to see the success of the Domino’s app and adapt to the changing tide. Mobile is here; embrace it. 

Download the Domino’s App

Mobile and the NBA    
 Something’s brewing in the NBA between Sacramento Kings owner, Vivek Ranadive, and Dallas Mavericks’ owner, Mark Cuban. No, it’s not about King James and the MVP Race or David Stern’s retirement. Believe it or not, they’re bickering about the use of mobile technology during live NBA games. 
 Ranadive, who purchased the Kings in May 2013, believes that mobile will  enhance the experience  of being in an arena during a live NBA game. He noted,  
 
  “The future is about giving people an extremely contextual experience…people love to play games and they love to participate.”   
 
   
 Ranadive believes an in-game app, like the one at the  Barclays Center  in Brooklyn, enhances the experience, rather than disrupts it. The Barclays Center’s new mobile Wi-Fi system allows fans to access game information, with future versions including the ability to order concessions from your phone. Ranadive said, 
 
  “I completely reject the notion that a fan looking at his mobile device is not an engaged fan…I want to know play-by-play, I want to know every metric.”  
 
 On the other side of this debate is longtime Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban. Cuban wants nothing more than to see fans put their phones away and become immersed in the game. Cuban said, 
 
  “No question people use their phones and devices at games…but they use them when they are bored. They don’t want more reasons to use them. They want fewer.”      
 
  A new study on stadium Wi-Fi habits , commissioned by the NFL, discovered that the busiest period of mobile use during a game comes at the beginning and mobile use slowly decreases during the game.  Most of that mobile activity is not looking at the play-by-play or statistics; rather, it’s photo uploading through Facebook.  Maybe Cuban is right. But then again, mobile apps catered to the in-game experience are not widely available yet and the lack of in-game use may be due to a lack of availability. 
 I do know that when I’m at home, watching the game, I’m using multiple devices at the same time. But, when I’m at a live NBA game, I rarely take my phone out. Why would I? I just paid a ridiculous price for a ticket. 
  Final Thoughts  In reality, both owners are right. NBA fans are a diverse group of people. Some would love the extra features of being able to look up stats and figures related to the game. Others would find it distracting, and would prefer to keep the phone in their pocket. The real key here is giving those fans who prefer the mobile experience, a great app that meets their needs. Cuban needs to step into the 21 st  century and reach out to Mavericks fans that fall into this group.  
 Regardless, I’m a Knicks fan; so I’d rather not look at the game anyway…

Mobile and the NBA 

Something’s brewing in the NBA between Sacramento Kings owner, Vivek Ranadive, and Dallas Mavericks’ owner, Mark Cuban. No, it’s not about King James and the MVP Race or David Stern’s retirement. Believe it or not, they’re bickering about the use of mobile technology during live NBA games.

Ranadive, who purchased the Kings in May 2013, believes that mobile will enhance the experience of being in an arena during a live NBA game. He noted,

“The future is about giving people an extremely contextual experience…people love to play games and they love to participate.”

Ranadive believes an in-game app, like the one at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, enhances the experience, rather than disrupts it. The Barclays Center’s new mobile Wi-Fi system allows fans to access game information, with future versions including the ability to order concessions from your phone. Ranadive said,

“I completely reject the notion that a fan looking at his mobile device is not an engaged fan…I want to know play-by-play, I want to know every metric.”

On the other side of this debate is longtime Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban. Cuban wants nothing more than to see fans put their phones away and become immersed in the game. Cuban said,

“No question people use their phones and devices at games…but they use them when they are bored. They don’t want more reasons to use them. They want fewer.”  

A new study on stadium Wi-Fi habits, commissioned by the NFL, discovered that the busiest period of mobile use during a game comes at the beginning and mobile use slowly decreases during the game.  Most of that mobile activity is not looking at the play-by-play or statistics; rather, it’s photo uploading through Facebook.  Maybe Cuban is right. But then again, mobile apps catered to the in-game experience are not widely available yet and the lack of in-game use may be due to a lack of availability.

I do know that when I’m at home, watching the game, I’m using multiple devices at the same time. But, when I’m at a live NBA game, I rarely take my phone out. Why would I? I just paid a ridiculous price for a ticket.

Final Thoughts
In reality, both owners are right. NBA fans are a diverse group of people. Some would love the extra features of being able to look up stats and figures related to the game. Others would find it distracting, and would prefer to keep the phone in their pocket. The real key here is giving those fans who prefer the mobile experience, a great app that meets their needs. Cuban needs to step into the 21st century and reach out to Mavericks fans that fall into this group. 

Regardless, I’m a Knicks fan; so I’d rather not look at the game anyway…

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Starbucks Mobile Innovation 

The forefront of the mobile revolution is taking place on the corner of your street, at your friendly, neighborhood coffee shop: Starbucks.  Business Insider reported recently that Starbucks has racked in more than $1 billion in 2013 from its mobile sales, a figure that can be attributed to its ten million active users.  

The staggering results from their mobile strategy come from multiple pioneering marketing campaigns during Q4 of 2013. Their Twitter campaign—aptly named “Tweet-a-Coffee”—lets coffee lovers tweet a hashtag that’s linked to a credit card, and friends and family can redeem them through the Starbucks mobile app.

Starbucks patrons can use the app for card payments and direct purchasing of beverages and food. Once downloaded, users can unlock free drinks and food after reaching a certain number of purchases in the app. The app is very much like a game.  It’s fun, it’s unique, it’s interactive, and it’s convenient.

I write about this app because…well…I use it—almost everyday, actually. No other eCommerce app has done what Starbucks has done, which is, quite simply, create an app that’s habit forming. Every morning I go into Starbucks and without thinking, take out my phone, not my wallet.  

Starbucks’ newest mobile venture will come in the form of pre-ordering on your phone. They want to change the ever-growing line at it’s locations by allowing costumers to order and pay from the app upon arrival or beforehand.

Starbucks continues to be at the forefront of mobile innovation and I implore all of you to download the app, even if you aren’t a fan of the brand.  Flip through it, study it, and ponder what the future of mobile may look like.  The Starbucks app is a wonderful case study of how mobile can positively impact overall brand strategy.   

I’ll leave you with a quote on Starbucks innovation…

And I think once again the Starbucks… mobile transaction platform is still in its nascent stage. And we believe there is an opportunity to extend that value to our customers in ways that we have not yet shared with you.

—Howard Schultz, CEO

Download the Starbucks App