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by Deanna Ting | January 03, 2013
A new, free iPhone app, Clutch, combines shopping, loyalty, and gifting tools in one simple mobile app. After downloading the app from the Apple App Store or online at www.clutch.com, users can manage their gift and loyalty cards, daily deals, coupons, offer searches, purchases, shopping comparisons, social gifting, and mobile payments all in one place. 

The new app seeks to take advantage of growing consumer shopping trends toward mobile shopping and e-gift cards. According to Forrester Research, mobile commerce is expected to reach $31 billion by 2016, growing at a 39 percent annual compound rate. This growth is shifting the $100 billion physical gift card market toward mobile, e-gift cards. According to Transaction Wireless and Aberdeen, more than half of retailers (61 percent) plan to use mobile gift cards and 43 percent of customers prefer to use the mobile medium for gift cards. According to Mercator Advisory Group, the prepaid retail gift card, loyalty, and cash replacement card markets are estimated to be worth $484 billion. 

By using an app like Clutch, consumers do not need to worry about losing physical gift cards or use multiple apps for storing data. The app’s proprietary recommendation engine also offers relevant deals to each user based on his or her personal, time, and location data, while strengthening brand relationships by capturing valuable information and leveraging targeted marketing opportunities.
 
“Mobile shopping today is fragmented. Consumers must juggle a blizzard of shopping-related apps with narrow functionality including separate apps for rewards programs, coupons, daily deals, shopping searches, shopping lists, mobile wallets, price comparisons and gifting, among others,” says Andy O’Dell, co-founder and chief commercial officer at Clutch. “Clutch brings all of these functions into one interface and enables consumers to actually purchase products from a wide array of merchants.”
 
The company also says that by requiring users to register cards upon purchase, the Clutch app provides visibility into those consumers buying the cards along with the recipients. This, Clutch argues, gives different brands a one-on-one connection with their high value consumers and resolves problems related to breakage and escheatment of funds. Because the Clutch platform integrates shopping, gifting and loyalty solutions with users’ real-time locations, preferences, and friend data, merchants can provide relevant and timely information to customers to help them get better offers and give better gifts. Merchants also benefit from a direct-to-consumer marketing channel informed by data across retailers, gift lists created by the app user and their friends, past responses to offers, and geo-location information. Because of Clutch’s registration process, gift card buyers and recipients are no longer anonymous, allowing brands to identify and engage more of their customers.

Consumers can also make purchases within the app, which integrates with Apple’s Passbook. The app’s integration with Facebook enables users to quickly access their friends’ wish lists. When purchasing an e-gift card through the app, consumers can personalize it with a video, photo and/or message for each gift recipient, making the experience less transactional.