Sparkfly Seeks To Merge Offers And Payments

Empowered by technology, coupons entered the mobile age as unsightly, outdated caterpillars, and have emerged as vibrant, modern butterflies.

Need proof? Research shows that two key demographics, millennials and males, have newly embraced the shopping tool, and are using mobile coupons for more essential purchases because of the “wow factor” they can provide.

But coupons aren’t just exciting consumers. The modern coupon campaign has evolved as well, and one company that’s looking to take it a step further is Atlanta-based promotion redemption platform Sparkfly.

Though the company has been in business since 2001, it recently caught our attention due to a unique campaign with beauty app Pretty in my Pocket (PRIMP), major pharmacies Walgreens/Duane Reade and global cosmetic company L’Oreal Paris.

While the saying goes “too many cooks can spoil the broth,” it turns out that Sparkfly may be cooking up something truly unique with its partners.

By collecting coupon data through Walgreen’s and Duane Reade’s promotions engine, Sparkfly is enabling Walgreens/Duane Reade to see higher foot traffic, PRIMP to partner with a major retailer and L’Oreal to drive a truly 21st century mobile coupon campaign.

So, what’s in it for Sparkfly? We talk to founder and CEO Catherine Tabor to find out.

PYMNTS.com: Sparkfly recently got our attention when we read a report about its work with Walgreens and Duane Reade. Before we move on to discussing this topic, would you mind introducing Sparkfly to our audience and talking about your company’s role in multichannel marketing?

Catherine Tabor: Sparkfly is the industry leading digital platform enabling the successful delivery and real-time redemption of mobile offers at retail locations, with real-time consumer purchase data capture. By connecting mobile media with point-of-sale systems and promotions engines, Sparkfly offers retailers and manufacturers the ability to track mobile marketing ROI, identify their most effective advertising channels and improve consumer targeting based on item-level transaction detail.

Sparkfly leverages the immediate nature of mobile to maximize real-time redemption. The solution is not a digital platform repurposed for mobile, but rather the industry’s leading and only patented organic mobile promotion redemption and tracking technology. Sparkfly offers two primary value propositions to digital advertisers: streamlining mobile promotions and measuring mobile ad spend ROI.

The Sparkfly platform can also be used to track offers from individual apps, websites and emails. Thanks to its extensive relationships with leading ad networks and other publishers, Sparkfly is a one-stop solution for measuring offer performance and purchase behavior across media channels.

Perhaps using your Walgreens/Duane Reade partnership as an example, can you take us through a use case for Sparkfly, touching on delivery, redemption at point of sale and reporting?

The L’Oreal campaign with Walgreen’s uses a popular beauty app, Pretty in my Pocket (PRIMP), to deliver offers to consumers. Information about those offers is also stored in our platform and/or the retailer’s promotion engine. Within the “Perks” section of the PRIMP app, the user can view available offers and select an offer to redeem in-store. Once a user selects an offer, a personalized barcode is displayed on the mobile device.

At checkout, the consumer or store associate scans the barcode and the discount is automatically validated against the items in the basket and applied in real time as appropriate. The consumer pays however they want, and is on their way.

Sparkfly is able to match the item-level purchase data with PRIMP user data for a complete view of each individual consumer’s activity. We provide a number of summary reports on views, redemptions, specific locations and specific offers, and the detailed line item data is also provided to Walgreen’s and L’Oreal for further analysis, segmentation or follow-up targeting.

We support other media channels in a similar fashion, matching transactions to individual users via mobile ads, Facebook, twitter, email, etc.

What would you say to merchants with successful coupon campaigns who feel like they might not need the data your service can provide, or who may cater to demographics that are less interested in mobile promotions?

In addition to being able to determine ROI on offers presented through any media channel, Sparkfly also offers a new way for retailers and brands to collaborate on driving traffic and sales.  We have connected the brand, retailer, publisher and consumer in a powerful way that allows advertisers to connect ads directly to in-store purchase of their products – specifically using the brand’s ad campaigns and consumer connections via apps, social and email to drive offer redemptions.

Because we capture each transaction at an individual consumer level, brands can also engage in more sophisticated promotions, including frequency offers (e.g., buy three over multiple visits and get your fourth free on the next visit) to drive repeat purchase at the item or product level.

Sparkfly offers promotion communication with mobile wallets. How popular are mobile wallet coupon promotions among retailers? Are you finding that the lack of NFC adoption is hindering mobile wallet coupon growth?

Mobile wallets have been almost exclusively focused on their payment capabilities (Passbook is an exception). These companies are now beginning to look at adding additional features, like offers and promotions, and we are in talks to power these capabilities for certain mobile wallet providers.

NFC adoption is a factor, but more than that we believe there is a general consumer resistance to change when something is as easy and ingrained as using plastic. We see offers as providing consumers with a reason to adopt mobile wallets. And giving retailers or brands the ability to reach mobile wallet users with offers gives the retailers an added incentive to support the technology.

What’s next for Sparkfly? How do you plan to move forward with the business over the next six months to one year?

The Walgreens/L’Oreal program marks a major milestone for Sparkfly as we begin activating national retailers on our platform and enabling brands like L’Oreal to reach consumers directly with trackable mobile offers. We will continue deploying additional retailers and retail segments, engaging more CPGs in promoting directly to their consumers and expanding our growing list of media channel partners. We are also looking at ways to combine offers and payments into a single step we refer to as “redeem and pay.” 

Additionally, we believe that this holiday season presents a tremendous opportunity for brands, quick-service restaurants (QSRs), and retailers to truly get rich learning around their customers’ mobile redemption behavior. 

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