2012.02 | Mobile Tickets @ Cineplex

Last weekend I went to see The Adventures of Tintin.  I took the opportunity to try out Cineplex’s new mobile ticketing solution as part of this experience.  At the outset I wasn’t sure if this was the sort of solution I would use over again, but I came away quite impressed, and I expect I will be obtaining tickets this way in the future.  I am constantly baffled by the queues at my local theatre at the traditional ticket line.  I’ve always bypassed them by using the self service kiosks that they have for tickets.  If I can go even further and avoid purchase while in the theatre, I’m glad to do so.

Cineplex has offered their Print, Skip, and Scan option for some time.  Under this program, customers visit the Cineplex website, pick the film and venue and then print their tickets at home.  The tickets each have barcode that can be scanned for entry.  I have been a user of this solution many times, but have found that often my family decides to see a movie on the spur of the moment.  Given the time it takes to print out the 4-5 pages of tickets on my slow home printer, it’s actually faster in this instance to go to the theatre and just use the self serve kiosk to order and print tickets.  This new mobile solution lets me get my tickets on the way to the theatre.

Here’s how it works:

  • Customers with an iPhone or iPad can buy tickets right on the mobile device.  The Cineplex app can be downloaded from the iTunes store.  (The app is also available for Android and Blackberry users)
  • On first use customers add their Scene Loyalty card number in the app so they get full credit for purchases.
  • Using the app, which has great Flixster like information on the films showing, customers select the film, venue, showtime and quantity of tickets.
  • Customers enter their credit card number to pay.
  • The app provides the option to either print tickets at home (tickets sent via email) or use one’s mobile device to pick them up at the theatre.  I chose to use my mobile device.
  • The tickets quickly become available under a tab at the right side of the app labelled ‘tickets’.  Upon clicking the tickets tab, all tickets available to the customer are displayed on the mobile device.  Each ticket transaction has an associated barcode that is displayed on the screen.
  • Upon arrival at the theatre, customers visit a dedicated, stylish and very plainly identified kiosk to print their tickets.
  • After indicating on the kiosk that ticket printing is requested.  Customers open the cineplex app, select the tickets for the film they wish to use, and present the resulting barcode on their mobile to the plainly labelled scanner/imager on the kiosk.
  • Tickets for each individual attendee print immediately.  Customers take these tickets to the Cineplex associate who scans it and customers are ready to watch their movie.

What’s great about this solution?

  • It provides yet another channel for Cineplex customers to use.  Great retail today is about customer choice.  Customers can now buy tickets in yet another way – one that is very interesting to a significant segment of the movie viewing public – and one that is sure to appeal to Millenials who are increasingly accustomed to purchasing goods and services on their mobile devices.  While a new channel is available, all the old ones are still there.  If customers want to line up and buy their tickets from a person they can do so.  If they want to use a self service kiosk, they can do so.  If they want to order online and print at home, they can do so.  If they want to order online or on their mobile and print at the theatre they can do so.
  • It’s simple and builds upon the principles of purchase via their other channels.  It uses the same purchase flow and probably same web services for online ticket purchases.  This makes it a simple transition for current users.
  • The kiosk interface is very simple and the solution doesn’t make you wait. It’s very responsive.

What can improve?

  • Purchasing on the mobile and entering a whole credit card makes for some small text and less than optimal user interface situations.  That is probably more a function of what you can do with a mobile website today, and given that this is an initial iteration, I’m sure this will improve.  I expect that could also be improved if customers were allowed to tie a credit card number to their scene account so no credit card number need be entered.
  • The kiosk was a bit hard to find – placed by the arcade area.  Given all of the other technology in the front of a theatre, I can see that this would be a challenging decision for both logistical (power, data, floorspace) and flow (queueing, so many screens at front of the theatre) reasons.  Once you find the area, it is very plainly labeled and easy to understand.  Also, once customers that wish to use a solution like this know where the kiosk is, it becomes a moot point, as it will be easy for them to find.

On the whole, a very well done implementation in my mind.   I find it useful, and I applaud Cineplex for making the effort to install a solution of this kind.  I look forward to the evolution of this solution.

2010.46 | 2D Barcodes are for Everybody Now

Seems like 2D Barcodes are picking up steam – at least from the perspective of the media.  Though these codes have been around for some time – originally used for labelling electronic components, they are finally making their way a little deeper into the mainstream.   2D has been discussed on this blog many times over the past 2 years.

Smartphones have made this possible with better faster hardware and software that allows users to scan codes very quickly – making the use of these codes far more practical than in the past. The value of 2D codes are their ability to provide a very simple bridge between mobile and touchpoints (point of sale, atm, payment terminals). While it’s possible to interface via NFC, bluetooth or wifi, all of the other options require setup, passwords or some other hardware. With 2D barcodes – there’s an app for that, and it’s basically point and shoot.

Some interesting uses of 2D barcodes in retail:

Ticketing – Expect to see more of this as consumers become more comfortable.  It already works for airlines, and given the demographic visiting movie theatres, who are more comfortable with mobile technology will move to this ticketing option in the future with movie theatres (Full Disclosure – NCR is my employer and owns Mobiqa) and concert venues leading the way.

Coupons – Coupons are common in today’s value consious consumer.  There are a number of initiatives taking place that use 2d barcodes.

Payment – Starbucks has been connecting a client’s stored value card to a 2D barcode that can be read at the POS for some time.  That’s old hat, though still uncommon.  A newer twist on this is a company called Cimbal, who are attempting to enable the mobile wallet via 2D barcodes.  This system shows a 2D barcode on the screen of the pinpad to be scanned by a mobile phone and then payments are directed.  This is a very interesting angle to avoiding a new device at the point of sale.

Informational – Scanning 2d barcodes from store shelves or posters is increasingly simple with all of these applications and can take the load off store staff for information.  Customers can scan a code from a poster or from a shelf edge to watch a video or a sales pitch of any media that vendors may want to provide to retailers.

Again, 2D barcodes are not new, nor is scanning a barcode to pull information.  It is the new comfort level with mobile technology that is pulling this technology to the fore.

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