For years, small businesses have relied on rudimentary means to reward loyal customers. There's the punchcard people often forget to bring with them, or the jar of business cards merchants frequently forgot to input into their databases. After announcing a $12.1 million round Wednesday, Belly is taking aim at these old-fashioned loyalty programs, hoping to replace them with its mobile app and marketing platform.
The Series B-1 round led by New Enterprise Associates, Andreessen Horowitz, DAG Ventures, Lightbank, Cisco Systems, and 7-Ventures, a subsidiary of 7-Eleven, brings the total amount raised to $28 million, allowing Chicago-based Belly to expand its core product offering, hire more staff, and increase the company's presence in its 18 existing markets. The service currently sees about 300,000 check-ins each week.
Though there are existing apps that reward customer loyalty (think mayoral perks on Foursquare or savings for repeat customers on mobile payments app LevelUp), Belly founder and CEO Logan LaHive tells Fast Company that Belly's core offering is inherently different from a social network or mobile payments app. (Given the similar experience at point of sale, LaHive didn't rule out the possibility of Belly incorporating mobile payments into its platform down the line.) While such companies might offer customer data, this is the crux of Belly, which provides a complete business and marketing platform for merchants, from mom-and-pop shops to 7-Eleven convenience stores. Most of Belly's merchants are in the food industry, but its point-of-sale app can also be found in barbershops, comic book stores, and even marijuana dispensaries.
For $79 to $149 a month, Belly provides vendors with a kit that includes a device (Nexus 7 or iPad Mini, depending on the subscription tier), physical loyalty cards (to overcome the friction of asking customers to download an app at the point of sale), tools to launch email marketing campaigns, and a dedicated account manager. Those who opt for the top-of-the-line service also receive detailed analytics and customer demographic data.