Subway logoMobivity Holdings produces a platform which it asserts increases customer visits and spend in restaurants, retail, and personal care brands. It has announced a preview of the next generation of mobile communications and commerce at Mobile World Congress (MWC) using blochchain. As part of Google’s Early Access Program, Mobivity will show the interactive abilities of the Rich Communications Services (RCS) messaging standard to:

  • enable customers to find a store
  • view, select, refine and order Subway menu items
  • do this without leaving a ‘text’ message conversation.

According to Mobivity, this dynamic and interactive technology: “makes it easy for customers to buy what they want. It exploits the conversational simplicity of messaging with tap-to-select actions. A blockchain ledger lays the foundation for future loyalty and cryptocurrency applications.”

Carissa Ganelli
Carissa Ganelli

According to Carissa Ganelli, Chief Digital Officer of Subway: This is a cutting-edge, exciting opportunity to continue to evolve how we serve our customers. Our goal is to make ordering and receiving your favorite Subway meal as easy as possible.

“We have been using text conversations to engage our guests and now we are taking it to the next level. With RCS technology and real-time conversations, we are delivering a personalized ordering experience in seconds – and in clicks. We are excited to partner with Mobivity and to create a unique on-demand digital experience for our loyal customers.

Mobivity and Google’s Early Access Program

in 2017 Mobivity joined Google’s Early Access Program and was among the first to bring RCS experiences to market. RCS, as part of the new GSMA Universal Profile for Advanced Messaging industry standard, represents the next step in the evolution of SMS/MMS. It offers businesses a new way to engage and serve customers.

Unlike mobile apps, many of which are never used shortly after download, RCS reaches customers within their default text-messaging app. Most customers check such apps hundreds of times a day.

For brands like Subway, this opens a channel for customers to:

  • find its nearest sandwich shop
  • learn about special offers
  • prepare an order
  • pay by mobile
  • receive “a truly engaging and personalized Subway experience”.

Mobivity and building the application

Mobivity built the application so that customers can search for a Subway store by sharing their location. It achieves this with a simple button push, selecting their sandwiches with a text reply or by choosing from options on screen. This makes selections for a “side, beverage and dessert all with fun images and simple taps” to confirm choices.

All this happens via a familiar, conversational dialogue, one already used to text friends every day. During February, Mobivity is operating a trial of the RCS service with thousands of loyal Subway subscribers. These subscribers receive a visually rich version of weekly offers via RCS.

Visitors to MWC 2018 (February 26-28) can see this technology at work as part of the Future Networks Program within the GSMA Innovation City. Visitors can schedule a demo.

What does this mean

Beloved of the phone industry, RCS is another attempt to encourage mobile phone users to return to ‘traditional messaging’. Whether it will work as desired for phone companies remains open. The model is an interesting one, if Mobivity succeeds. One can see the attraction for a fast-product purveyor like Subway, or any other fast food or on-demand producer.

The Mobivity blockchain involvement, however, is slim at best and probably ethereal. “A blockchain ledger lays the foundation for future loyalty and cryptocurrency applications” sounds more like blockchain-embellishment rather than real substance, though there is an undoubted increase in blockchain-based loyalty initiatives.

 

 

 

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Charles Brett is a business/technology analyst consultant. His specialist areas include enterprise software, blockchain and enterprise mobility tech (including metering). Specific industry sectors of interest and experience include finance (especially systems supporting wholesale finance), telecommunications and energy. Charles has spoken at multiple industry conferences, has written for numerous publications (including the London Times and the Financial Times). He was the General Chair of the bi-annual High Performance Systems Workshop, 2005. In addition he is an author and novelist. His Technology books include: Making the Most of Mobility Vol I (eBook, 2012); Explaining iTunes, iPhones and iPads for Windows Users (eBook, 2011); 5 Axes of Business Application Integration (2004). His published novels, in the Corruption Series, include: The HolyPhone Confessional Crisis, Corruption’s Price: A Spanish Deceit and Virginity Despoiled. The fourth in The Corruption Series - Resurrection - has is now available. Charles has a B.A. and M.A in Modern History from the University of Oxford. He has lived or worked in Italy, Abu Dhabi, South Africa, California and New York, Spain, Israel, Estonia and Cyprus.

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