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    COMPETITIVE WATCH: Manhattan Subway Stores Test Online, Text Ordering

    Subway Now pilot program, with Go Mobo, is boosting customer visits and order sizes.

    NEW YORK -- In an attempt to break into the world of online and text message ordering, Subway partnered with Go Mobo to implement the Subway Now pilot, which began earlier this month in Manhattan, QSR Magazine reported.

    Subway's pilot launched Jan. 5 and was accompanied by New York City Subway system advertising, an American Express direct mail/e-mail campaign and online ads, according to mediabistro.com blog Mobile Marketing Today. Participating Subway stores have seen a "major increase in customer visit frequency" and "larger average order sizes" said a source close to the campaign. According to GoMobo's Web site, Internet orders are on average of 15 to 20 percent larger than phone orders.

    Subway officials declined to comment on the Subway Now pilot.

    To order through the site, users visit www.subwaynow.com and complete a free three-step process: They enter their zip code to find local Subway restaurants, place their customized order, then pick up their sandwich without waiting in line.

    Users enter credit card information when placing their first order, and it's securely saved to their account. Subway Now customers never pay at the restaurant. After registering online, users can order via text message using the code 466626. A menu and the customer's favorite customized orders are accessible by phone, and orders can be placed using as few as one character. The credit card account saved online is billed for each text message order. Standard text messaging rates apply, although Subway does not charge for its Subway Now program, the QSR Magazine report stated.

    Other features include specifying a later pickup time or utilizing existing delivery service at select stores; both are available online and via text message. Currently, daily soup specials and other items that change frequently aren't available through Subway Now.

    To promote the pilot, Subway is offering a free $5 foot-long sub after customers order three $5 foot-longs. Additionally, American Express users get a complimentary $5 foot-long when placing their first order with their American Express card.

    Users also can elect to receive -- or opt out of -- special offers via text message, giving Subway the opportunity to implement future interactive marketing.

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