An Instant Loyalty Program For Small Merchants

What if you’re a small merchant, maybe a single store operation or a small chain, and you want to offer a loyalty program because, well, loyalty programs really work.   However, the challenges of a loyalty program for smaller companies are well documented, numerous and not so easy to overcome.

To execute a loyalty program effectively, a business owner has to design one and stick with it.  It has to last for years, because it may take customers that long to earn a reward, and they will be angry and disappointed if you abandon the program before they’ve had a chance to get a reward.

Second, a business owner has to invest in cards or building an app (very costly and time consuming).   Also, customers are already loaded with apps, and key tags, and membership cards. The last thing they want is yet another card to remember.

A third problem is training employees on the program and even when you give out cards (like a frequent buyer card), the business has to take an extra step of asking for and then logging customer information.   It can cause employee frustration and management headaches.

Well, this is where AppCard comes in to make life simple.  AppCard is a program that any merchant can implement without tears.

I tried AppCard a few months ago.  I didn’t quite get it at first.  It took a while to get my arms around the idea, but once I read through their website, watched the video and played with the app, it totally clicked.

It boils down to this: AppCard is perfect for small chains and solo merchants who want the power of a real loyalty program without all the hassle.

Once a merchant signs up with AppCard, his customers can join by downloading the app, which works on Apple, Android and the web.   By using AppCard, the merchant avoids the pain of hiring  programming to build his own app and maintain it or support it.

A merchant doesn’t have to spend thousands of dollars to print up and give away key tags or membership cards – which many of us take home and quickly forget about.    No, it is very simple.  Once customers put the app on their phone, they can use their phone number to check in at the store.

AppCard can work in conjunction with Epson’s OmniLink printer and automatically capture points earned/dollars spent by a customer.  No other interaction is needed.

Other benefits I saw: small merchant associations – like a “downtown” merchant association, (here in Sarasota we have St. Armands Circle – a collection of high end small stores) can band together to help promote the same loyalty program, thereby encouraging the user to participate even more frequently.

Rewards are easy to set and end-users can be targeted for promotion.   The company offers 90+ reports for analyzing consumer behavior.

A Digital receipts feature allows customers to have a receipt emailed directly to them instead getting eight or ten inches of thermal paper.   This is surely the next big thing in retail.  I find myself getting about 100 feet of receipts a month and it’s truly absurd.  A solution like AppCard can save vendors money and earn customer respect by being progressive and “green”.

A few other features I found attractive:
– Merchants can reward customers whether they pay by cash, credit or debit card
– The app can display a digital storefront for each merchant.
– It’s a source of leads because customers who carry the app can find other businesses who participate right in the app.
– Can be set up in less than 20 minutes.

AppCard has an impressive group of lead investors including:  Eric Schmidt, Chairman of Google, Jerry Yang (co founder of Yahoo), Peter Thiel (cofounder and former CEO of PayPal and Yair Goldfinger of ICQ.

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