If I had to pick on adjective for Apple’s upcoming iOS 6, it’d be “local” – Apple is integrating an immense range of local features and giving businesses amazing tools for attracting new customers. Regardless of whether you’re talking about a large chain like Starbucks or a family owned local business, Apple is offering virtually any customer-facing company an immense range of tools to attract and retain new customers.
Let’s look at some of the areas where iOS 6 delivers excellent local, mobile, and social opportunities for businesses.
Siri – Siri is already a great local resource. Tighter integration with local-oriented services like Yelp, Open Table, Rotten Tomatoes, and Fandango will allow users find out about businesses, make reservations, purchase tickets and so on. Local businesses that can deliver a polished set of information and reservation/purchasing options to the services integrated with Siri stand to have a solid leg up over some of their competitors when it comes to attracting new customers.
Passbook – Any business that offers a loyalty program, sells gift cards, attracts users with coupons, has the ability to purchase tickets (for travel or events), or allows users to pay in advance for a purchase and then do in-store pickup needs an iOS app that leverages Passbook integration.
While demos about Starbucks, Amtrak, and Fandango are great examples for large national and international chains, the real power of Passbook is going to be for local businesses and regional chains. The location-based functionality that Passbook has to offer in which Passbook-enabled apps will deliver notifications in the lock screen for easy access to loyalty cards, alternate payment methods, and pre-purchased items like tickets. That means users may be reminded about a store or coffee shop simply because they’re nearby and have a item for it in their Passbook. All in all passbook combines three key marketing approaches – loyalty and rewards, location-based reminders, and fluid transactions.
Integration with Facebook and Twitter – Many shops and companies derive business from successful social media campaigns. iOS 6 will expand the social reach for local businesses. Businesses and even non-profit organizations that can tailor their social campaigns to appeal to mobile users stand to increase their brand awareness within the community. That could translate to immediate sales and/or longer term interest and repeat customers. Focusing social campaigns around check-ins stand to deliver particular repeat customers.
Smart app banners – Many people discovering local business will do it through their website. Siri results, web searches, and even other apps can all deliver users to a site for a local hangout or a specific service-oriented company. Companies that deliver an enhanced experience through an app (perhaps one that integrates Passbook or a social presence) will get a big boost by using smart app banners to direct users to that app. That the process is designed to enable a seamless hand-off of currents tasks from the website to the app is icing on the cake for driving user engagement and interaction.
All in all, iOS 6 is about local services and resources. That makes many features very personal and that offers some amazing opportunities for businesses of all types to build a community around their services and customers.