Irish town launches local loyalty scheme
The Irish town of Macroom in County Cork has launched a new town-wide loyalty programme called LocalRewards, offering locals a card that be used to earn points from local independent businesses.
The programme was set up and developed by Cork-based company MyRewardCard.ie, aiming to help loyal local customers get the maximum benefits while supporting local companies and workers.
Customers can pick up a Macrooom LocalRewards card and immediately start collecting points in any participating business in the town. The more they shop with participating businesses, the more points they earn, and the greater the range of rewards available to them.
Because small businesses provide the majority of employment in Ireland, it is important that they retain customers if towns are to survive as viable business communities. But, while Macroom is not the first town to try to encourage people to shop locally, most towns that have introduced 'shop local' programmes offer simple discount cards, in which consumers buy a card and then get a discount with every visit to a participating business.
In contrast, the points-based Macroom LocalRewards card allows customers to build up points over multiple visits and therefore allows businesses to give greater rewards to their most loyal customers.
The practical operation of the programme is simple: a customer collects their free card from a participating business, then shows this card whenever they shop at participating outlets. Once the customer has gained enough points, they can redeem them for a reward of their choice, ranging from discounts to free gifts (depending on the merchant).
However, rather than being a coalition-style programme, each effectively business runs its own rewards programme - simply using the same town-wide card as a customer identifier - and the points earned from a specific business are valid only for rewards from that business.
"I had seen research showing the popularity of loyalty cards but, because there are so few cost-effective solutions available to independent businesses, most have only been able to offer stamped cards which customers lose or accidentally put througth the washing machine," explained chief executive, Brian O'Connell. "So we built a platform that would allow even the smallest business afford a loyalty points programme without worrying about IT issues."
The same town loyalty platform is now powering the LocalRewards programme in Macroom and Carrigaline, and it will soon be operating in Clonakilty as well.
The LocalRewards platform also offers the benefit of community-wide promotions. For example, the town of Carrigaline introduced the card in August 2010, and a recent promotion rewarded cardholders for shopping in more than 2 businesses in September. Since then, nearly 3,000 consumers have taken and used the Carrigaline card.
The Macroom localrewards card can intially be picked up by customers at four businesses: Macroom Bookshop, Papa Martinos Restaurant, Minihanes Shoes and Murphys Pharmacy. More businesses are preparing to join the programme in the near future, and cards will also be made available through each new partner.