Belly is a mobile-based loyalty program created by a Chicago start-up company that offers users rewards and special deals at participating businesses in a manner similar to traditional paper loyalty cards. Funded by Groupon investor Lightbank, Belly focuses on offering unique, customized rewards in addition to regular monetary incentives.
Businesses that participate in the Belly program set up in-store iPads to record customer visits and rewards. Customers who visit such businesses can scan their Belly bar codes on the merchant's iPad, which informs them immediately if they have qualified for a reward. The system is designed to be set up in minutes.
Belly operates primarily through a mobile app that is available for Android and iOS devices. The app displays a unique quick response (QR) code on the device's screen, which can then be scanned using the in-store iPad. For customers who do not own smartphones or do not wish to use them, Belly also provides physical cards marked with the same code. Either way, that single bar code can be used at any participating business.
In January 2013, Belly revealed a updated version of the app that can be set to display the user's QR code on the home or lock screen of certain Android devices, effectively turning the mobile device into a physical card.
Instead of simply offering their customers discounts on products and services, Belly encourages participating businesses to create unique reward programs. In the food service industry, for instance, an establishment may name a menu item after an especially loyal customer or offer an all-you-can-eat special for 10 minutes. Belly's stated goal is to help small businesses build understanding and respect with their customers through these unique loyalty programs.
Through a program known as "Belly Bites," businesses can offer Belly users free samples of their merchandise. Users can effectively move around their neighborhoods and locate free goods and services nearest them. Belly leadership says that this campaign's focus on free samples makes it much more manageable than a daily deals system, but it still helps businesses introduce themselves to new customers.
Businesses that participate in Belly pay the company a monthly fee to use the system. In addition to the iPad that runs the Belly app, participating businesses have access to purchase data and analytics to track repeat customers. Belly integrates with email and social media marketing and offers printed marketing materials such as posters and stickers. Belly's Passbook feature reminds customers when they are close to participating businesses.
Since its launch in Chicago, Belly has expanded to include more than 5000 participating businesses all over the United States.