As a small business owner, who happens to have a heavy appetite for technology, I’m constantly looking for ways I can use tech to help my business. Whether I’m looking for a better way to interact with customers or a new form of advertising, I turn to technology before anything else.
When Apple revealed a new app in iOS 6 called Passbook, it was billed as a single place for iPhone owners to store loyalty club cards, event tickets, coupons and travel documents. On the surface, it appeared to be for big box retailers and Fortune 500 companies.
Then, as someone who is part of the Apple Developer program, I was able to get my hands on iOS 6 and the tools to make passes early on. I soon realized how powerful the service was going to be for small businesses as well. You don’t need to look far to see how a small business can use Passbook passes to interact with customers — simply look at the PULP Pass. When you install the PULP Pass, you’re able to take advantage of promotions from local small businesses, exclusive to our pass. You’ll be alerted when you’re near a participating business, and all you’ll need to do is show the pass to get your discount. The PULP Pass is always there, but never in the way.
As a small business, you can begin to use Passbook today. You can either partner with us, or you can use one of the many online services available to create Passbook passes with. Some of the better ones are Passk.it, PassDock.com and PassSource.com. Some offer free trials, while others charge a monthly subscription based on your needs.
When you make a pass for your business, iPhone users can install it by scanning a QR Code, having the pass emailed to them, or by visiting a specific URL on their iPhone. Once the pass is installed, you now have a direct path of communication with your customer. You can update the pass as often as you’d like. With each update, regardless if it’s to announce a new promotion or event, those customers who have the pass installed will get an alert. You control how often alerts are sent, and what they say.
If you’re just an individual trying to figure out how Passbook works, start by installing the PULP Pass. It will give you the basic idea of what passes look like, and how you can interact with them. For a big business example, you can add your Starbucks card to Passbook and use it to purchase coffee. Not a fan of Starbucks? Try installing the Valpak app and use Passbook to store your localized coupons.
The first year of a new product, such as Passbook, is always the most interesting. It starts out with a perception of how customers and developers should use it. Then, as time goes on, creative minds start using it in creative ways it may have never been intended for. That’s precisely what’s happening with Passbook right now. By starting to use it now, as a small business, you can mold what Passbook is to become in the coming months and years.