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Smartphone sales are poised to eclipse those of personal computers, and retailers are showing a growing interest in mobile marketing to consumers.

To address this need, Omnego has launched a mobile offering with more choices and features, lower costs and greater rewards. The mechanism it is using to do all this — as well as link with third-party gift and loyalty card providers — begins with its enterprise platform and a digital, mobile card that resembles the familiar branded cards. Once consumers accept the mobile card, it serves as the hook to deliver ads, messages, coupons and rewards from companies in the retail, hospitality, travel and other industries.

The Omnego platform is less invasive than traditional SMS messaging, and is carrier- and network-independent. Retailers can use the software to easily issue, track and manage the cards. In addition, the platform offers retailers the capability to track metrics (ads opened, links clicked), providing valuable marketing insight into mobile consumer behavior.

There is no charge for merchants to issue mobile cards or coupons; they pay only when their customers accept the card or coupon. There is a low monthly fee for advertising on the platform to customers carrying the mobile cards. No additional software is necessary, either — merchants simply need an image scanner to read mobile device screens, with no change to POS software.

Global expansion plans
Two key trends point to a growing opportunity for first-to-market innovators. The Gartner Group reports that unit sales of smartphones were within 10 percent of computer sales volume in late 2010; as for retailers’ attitudes toward mobile marketing programs, Omnego founder and CEO David Thomas estimates that half of all merchants are planning to use these programs within the next 12 months.

Thomas brings an impressive resume to the venture, having helped build POS software company Triversity, which was acquired by SAP in 2005. Omnego’s new enterprise platform was launched in November, and Thomas is enthusiastic about its potential for rapid expansion.

“We built it to be global, and we have just signed our first business partner in Mexico, so we are well on our way,” he says. “We have three or four different pilot programs going on as we speak, with the possibility that negotiations may produce announcements” in the first quarter of 2011.

“Consumers are increasingly mobile and looking for convenient ways to interact with their favorite retailers,” Thomas says. “Omnego combines convenience and rewards for consumers with robust mobile features for retailers. We want to make sure that what happened to the music industry, with all the free downloads, doesn’t happen to the gift and loyalty card industry.”