By Stephanie Manley
SpotOn has been spreading in much of Monmouth County.
Since March, SpotOn, a national loyalty program, has been bringing area businesses a service that focuses on smarter marketing and effortless customer loyalty.
Begun in 2010, SpotOn founders Matt Hyman, Zach Hyman and Doron Friedman wanted to solve problems for small business owners. They saw a need for increased loyalty, a desire for easier communication and a lack of convenient reward programs. The remedy, the Hyman brothers and Friedman believed, was the creation of a service that offers rewards to loyal customers while making marketing easier than ever for business owners.
The solution is a SpotOn card or app for customers that gives them rewards the more they shop. The merchant, in turn, can more easily track their sales and send targeted information to known customers.
For the merchant, it is a simple three-step process. They contact SpotOn with an interest in participating. SpotOn sends them loyalty cards and a Samsung tablet that is preprogrammed to display in their place of business. The merchant then gets going by creating deals and watching their business grow.
For customers, it’s equally as seamless. They sign up through a smartphone app or by picking up a card at a participating location. They earn points when they shop and redeem those reward points whenever they like.
Thanks to Red Bank’s No Joe’s Café owner Mike Tierney, SpotOn began popping up all over Red Bank, Rumson, Shrewsbury, Little Silver and surrounding towns back in March. Tierney, who has owned No Joe’s for almost 20 years, was hired by SpotOn early this year as a business consultant and went door to door encouraging area establishments to sign up.
“It’s the No. 1 loyalty program in the nation,” says Tierney. “It’s user-friendly for the customer and for the merchant” and “it works.”
Before using SpotOn in No Joe’s Café, Tierney says his “reach” to his customers “was zero.” Now, with SpotOn, he’s getting “more people in the door.”
A community of SpotOn merchants is being created. “Everyone wants to be a part of (it),” says Tierney, because “merchants want what their neighbors have.” An added benefit is that participating businesses – and their customers – market for one another just by being a part of SpotOn.
The first month is free for businesses in the program. After that, the service rolls into a six-month contract at $70 a month. While some small-business owners can’t afford an extra $70, most owners of participating locations have said it’s been worth it.
In comparison to daily deal sites, the merchant doesn’t spend as much money, according to SpotOn officials. With the daily sites, merchants pay the difference between the regular price of an item and the discounted rate customers receive through the site. With SpotOn, it’s up to the customer to come in and earn “spots.” The more “spots” the customer receives, the closer he or she is to getting some sort of reward.
Each participating business customizes the deals it offers and when they are offered. During the customer’s birthday month, SpotOn gives rewards that can be redeemed at any time during that month at any location where the customer has previously shopped.
“Customers like getting free stuff,” says Denise Kelleher, owner of Cups and Cakes in Rumson which uses the SpotOn program.
“It’s been fun,” says Kelleher, who began the program in March.
Cups and Cakes did not have any type of rewards program but the owners were looking for one. Kelleher contact Tierney and he got her set up right away.
“Initially, my coffee sales definitely increased,” says Kelleher. Her one complaint, however, is that she wishes there was some sort of database that listed names and emails of her customers that have joined SpotOn. Most of her customers aren’t on Facebook, she says, so she isn’t sure if she is reaching all the people she hopes to reach when emailing about deals and rewards.
“Customers are really enjoying it,” she says. A chalkboard in the store keeps track of an ongoing competition of “spots” among four frequent customers.
Despite this, Kelleher says, “in the end, I have to see if it’s cost-effective.”
Other business owners are also pleased. Tina Bulwin, the owner of Flowers on Front in Red Bank, says her customers “are really excited about (SpotOn) because they don’t have to carry around a pile of cards.”
SpotOn also has learned that customers enjoy earning rewards from multiple locations. This is reflected in the company’s slogan: One Card. Endless Perks.
The Power Center in Red Bank has yet to see an increase in new clients, but current clients, they say, are “excited to get rewards.”