As part of a recent breakfast presentation to a group of local business people, I shared examples of SoLoMo schemes that could be used by local business to create repeat purchase and customer loyalty at an affordable price point.
Top of mind were Belly, LevelUp, Zavee, ShopKick, and Foursquare among others. As breakfast concluded, I was surprised to meet Jon Hatton, Market General Manager of Belly Card. Taking advantage of a rare chance to talk with someone on the front lines of social loyalty, I met Jon the next week at a local merchant where Belly was being successfully used.
I thoroughly enjoyed a little Q & & time with Jon, and here’s what I learned:
Belly is an elegant but simple solution for local merchants seeking to generate a loyal customer base. Any merchant who currently offers any form of punch card should immediately commence a ceremonial burning of the punch cards and migrate to Belly. For a modest monthly fee, Belly supplies an iPad loaded with the Belly app along with Belly membership cards, window stickers, and a commitment to support. Service is bundled with the program. In Jon’s case, he is not only salesperson, but also integration specialist as well as a pretty good generator of promotional ideas.
About the only requirement for a merchant to use Belly is that they have an internet connection in the store. Work-arounds are possible using the merchant’s credit card processing terminal. Consumers who join in the Belly fun receive an ID card, which can be used at any participating merchant. Belly members then use the card to check-in to store locations via the iPad, and rewards are earned based on a frequency model.
Belly energizes its program with a mobile app (iPhone & Android) where consumers can locate Belly locations, get directions, and view rewards. The app also helps members keep track of where they’ve been, how many points they’ve accumulated at individual merchants and where they are eligible to receive rewards.
Here’s the best part:
Belly helps the merchant setup a completely customized loyalty program of its own. In effect, Belly can transport merchants trudging along in the Jurassic Park of loyalty to digitize their loyalty efforts while enabling sought after marketing offers that give customers another reason to stop by the location.
The system is based on visit frequency and tracks visits rather than spend as the basis of customer rewards. Points are awarded for first visits, birthday visits, purchases of any product in store, and the same points are accumulated to be redeemed for any reward the store owner and Belly can dream up.
Jon shared examples of a “fro-yo” (Yogurt Shop) where the store owner offers to dress up in a monkey suit and run around the block. In a neighboring Comic Book Store, customers can earn the option of punching the owner in the stomach. Another business owner entices customers with the chance to drive his classic car around the block and there is a restaurant in the network where the owner (Chef) will invite a customer to his house for dinner with his family!
Chuckle if you want, but the Belly motif is about rewards for visits, but just as much about generating unique and truly entertaining customer experiences in stores. By introducing fun into store visits and involving customers into the store brand experience, people connect with their favorite fro-yo shop or local restaurant. Loyalty was always meant to be “fast, fun, free, and easy” and that is exactly what Belly helps merchants deliver at a price they can afford.
On top of it all, Jon Hatton is the right kind of guy to be on the front lines of social loyalty. He’s personable, imaginative, and cares about each Belly merchant he enlists in the project. He gives merchants confidence they are making the right decision, and stays around to help them succeed. In that regard, Jon is a one person loyalty program working on behalf of Belly Card. If you want to learn more, you can contact Jon via email here.
Today, Belly is in 1,600 locations across more than 15 states. In less than a year, Belly has built a user base of 300,000 users, generating over 1.5million check-ins! Run rates of daily check-ins are higher than those enjoyed by Yelp, Foursquare and Facebook combined!
As Belly builds a user base in a concentrated area, consumer awareness rises and people are encouraged to seek out more Belly merchants. Don’t be surprised if one day Belly takes the next step to create a nationwide coalition program composed of its individual merchants. It is entirely possible and could be a natural second wave of evolution for Belly.