Visa, Gap use text messages to mobile phones for promotions

Customers show the text to a sales clerk to receive a discount

Credit card company Visa and clothing retailer Gap announced that they are using SMS text messages to deliver updates about promotions and discounts to Gap customers' mobile phones.

The system, which uses Visa's global processing network, will be expanded to retailers nationwide, Visa said, but no timeline was announced.

Gap and Visa began a pilot of the real-time text message system in November. Customers enrolled via a secure website and were sent Gap offers when they used their Visa cards to complete transactions that met certain criteria -- for example, they may have had to buy something at a store in a specified ZIP code, or shop during a certain time period. Once the offers appeared on their phones, the customers took advantage of them by showing the text messages to Gap sales clerks.

Jim McCarthy, Visa's global head of products, said Visa is able to process transactions quickly, making it possible for retailers to reach potential customers carrying mobile phones while they are still out shopping.

Amy Carr, director of customer relationship management strategy at Gap, said the Visa system has given the retailer new insights into its customer base, leading to improvements in the way it targets promotions to customers.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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