If former Tesco CEO Sir Terry Leahy and ex-Hamleys Chairman Simon Burke sign up as directors, it is fairly safe to say that your company is going places.
And with the former grocery boss joining Burke at mobile voucher and mobile marketing specialist Eagle Eye Solutions this week, there is certainly a strong argument that both the business and the sector it operates in are set for significant growth in the years ahead.
Add the fact that smartphones are becoming more and more ubiquitous across the UK and an increasingly popular platform for conducting transactions, and it appears the foundations have been set for a successful business model.
Eagle Eye CEO Steve Rothwell explains to Retail Gazette that everything is falling into place at the right time for the company which distributes and redeems mobile coupons via credit card terminals and electronic point of sale technology.
“Mobile gives retailers the chance to have a direct one-to-one engagement with customers and actually get people into a store without needing a blanket TV marketing campaign,” he argues.
“It also reduces the cost of marketing and increases its effectiveness.
“Brands are itching to spend money on mobile marketing but they haven’t been able to get the required redemption – now they can.”
It is a convincing sales pitch, and one that Leahy and Burke have clearly been sold on.
Burke, who is also on the board at arts & crafts retailer Hobbycraft, was appointed Chairman of Eagle Eye at the end of May, while the ex-Tesco boss became a director of the firm on Monday after leading a £1.5 million cash raising process for the group.
The renowned retail pair obviously see mobile marketing and m-commerce as important areas of development for the industry in the imminent future – Sir Terry said as much during his London Business Forum speech last October - but their presence will inevitably be beneficial to the company itself.
“In Terry and Simon you arguably couldn’t get two more experienced retailers in the UK,” Rothwell notes.
“The depth and level of experience and knowledge of how the business works is phenomenal - the pair are helping us with our strategy.
“Together they know most people in retail so they can help with introductions and meeting people, and put us in touch with the right people in the right businesses to accelerate the growth of Eagle Eye.”
Eagle Eye’s technology has been built and the core platform is in place - there are already a number of retail customers such as Comet and Aurora Fashions on the company’s client list – but Sir Terry’s investment will help fund the sales force that is expected to get the services rolled out UK-wide.
Once the technology is more widely used Rothwell predicts the big winners from mobile marketing to be fast moving consumer goods brands that have struggled to find out about the habits of their consumers in the past. The major grocery and health & beauty companies that team up with them should benefit considerably too.
Using Eagle Eye’s technology will essentially pave the way for huge data collection, effectively allowing businesses and brands the opportunity to know when and where shoppers like to make their purchases.
“Over 90 per cent of the UK population can be reached by mobile,” he said.
“Using mobile vouchers and marketing will provide retailers with more customers, brands with more information about their customers and shoppers with great deals – everyone’s a winner.”
Earlier this month it was announced that Everything Everywhere, O2 parent company Telefonica and Vodafone have established a joint venture to help speed up the adoption of mobile payments and m-commerce, proving that technology is currently at the heart of retail development in the UK.
Together these telecommunication giants will work together to help advertisers, retailers and banks reach consumers through their mobile phones, showing that Eagle Eye is certainly operating in a relevant market.
At present Eagle Eye sends voucher codes to customers, which they redeem by typing into chip and pin machines at the point of sale, but eventually it too will use near field communication (NFC) technology during this transaction process.
With the backing of big name retail professionals now firmly in place and money in the bank for ambitious expansion, the company could find it becomes a leader in the widely predicted m-commerce boom.
“We’re on top of what is going on with regard to NFC and contactless technology but it will take longer to establish than people realise,” Rothwell explains.
“The question is will it be payments that drive the roll-out of mobile technology in the UK? I suspect it will actually be promotions and loyalty.”