App of the Day
Rewards and Loyalty March 13, 2014

Belly Card Review

Win-win situations rarely happen in life, but  Belly aims to change that—the Chicago-based company has created a smartphone customer loyalty program for retail-based stores. Belly rewards customers with personalized rewards and simultaneously provides data back to store owners with insights that can help grow their business. This system gives access to behavioral data from customers that is usually only available to bigger retailers and provides an enjoyable experience to their customers to improve retention. With over 7,000 merchants across the U.S. using the software and well over a million users of the app, Belly has caught on like wildfire.

With local businesses losing more and more money to online shopping and big retail like Wal-Mart, Belly is giving small-business owners the ability to not only establish a more meaningful relationship with their customers, but maintain that relationship and convert them into a sustainable loyal customer base. Although Belly may be seen as only a solution for small-business owners, it is definitely powerful enough to large franchises build customer loyalty and gather analytics as well. Everyone can use help with customer retention whether it’s a local mom and pop restaurant or a big franchise with stores throughout the country.

First impressions

Unlike many loyalty programs,  Belly reward points are based on the number of visits and not based on the money you spend. Belly allows you to check in at participating retailers and earn rewards just by visiting the stores. When you download the app, it will assign you a personalized QR code that you scan at the retailer’s iPad POS system that automatically checks you into the shop. There’s no need for you to keep up with a rewards card, everything is accessible right on your phone. The app will register these points and send your personalized rewards tailored specifically to your customer behavior. The app is extremely easy to use and allows you to pick up pretty quickly how to put it to good use. The interface is clean yet unique giving the app a distinct look without making it overly complicated for the user.

Welcome to Belly

Pricing & Availability

For businesses, the software is divided into three pricing tiers. “Snack” ($79 a month), “Meal” ($99 a month), or “Feast” ($149 a month)—all of which are based on the needs for your business. Features include unlimited loyalty cards, customer email aggregation, social media integration (Facebook and Twitter), marketing materials, detailed analytics, customer demographics, and even quarterly loyalty consultation depending on what bundle you purchase.

When ordered, businesses are offered a kit which includes a Nexus 7 Tablet or iPad Mini depending on what bundle they purchase as well as a case, lock, and stand. Each business receives a merchant success manager and no matter what tier you buy into—you receive at least one email marketing campaign.

For consumers, the app is available for both Android and iOS but most importantly, it’s free. All that is required is a simple download to and customers are ready to start saving money and gaining rewards.

What it does well

For one, Belly finally gives customers freedom from physical loyalty punch cards that clutter wallets and purses, yet always go missing one punch away from redeeming an award. And Belly not only rewards for one store, but a combination all participating stores’ loyalty programs.

The app can even track your location and determine where the closest participating stores are to your current position. Participating stores include a wide variety of retailers that include not only restaurants and clothing stores but also more specialized shops such as health spas, nail salons, car washes and even pet stores. Customers can easily keep track of how many points they earn and even store their favorite places. A great incentive is that many of these rewards are exclusive to Belly only.

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Accumulating points happens pretty quickly, especially in cities like Chicago where there are bevy of participating retailers. Other cool features include store profiles which includes business hours, phone numbers, websites and even a “Let’s Get Social” section to connect with businesses on Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp. Just an all-around fun experience for the consumer to earn points and gain awards, and in return help businesses with customer retention issues.

What we would like to see in future updates

Better social media integration—for instance, when clicking on Facebook, Twitter, or Yelp in the company profiles on the iPhone interface, instead of being taken directly to the page you requested, you are brought to a blank page with a button up top that says “More” which users have to click on to open it up in their phone’s browser. It would be easier if the app automatically directed you to your phone’s browser, and it’s not exactly clear for first time users of the app.

We love the app so much that we would love to see Belly branch out to more cities and more retailers. For cities like Chicago where the app was founded, there are plenty of options but in other areas options might be limited due to the lack of participating retailers.

The Verdict

There’s not much to dislike about Belly, from its easy-to-use unique interface for customers to its ability to not only help small businesses capture detailed analytics of their customers but build stronger, long lasting relationships with their customers—this app is a joy for all involved. Tons of new retailers and customers are being added on a daily basis. Don’t be ashamed to jump on the bandwagon too, it’s well worth the ride.

Additional Images (click to enlarge):

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Interview with Ryan Jeffery: VP of Business Development for Belly

Q. What moved you to pursue to build Belly? What does it do different than other products?

We saw a need in the market and wanted to solve a very real problem small business owners face on a daily basis - improving customer loyalty and retention. We didn't see effective digital tools that helped the individual proprietor (or even large franchisees) to bring back their customers more frequently. There were plenty of tools for a small business to utilize for digital acquisition of new customers - Groupon, LivingSocial, Foursquare, Google, Yelp etc - but once these customer walked into the business, the connection was lost. We set out to help solve this problem with a very simple (yet difficult to execute) mission: to create and enhance digital connections that strengthen customer loyalty.

Q. What has been the most challenging experience in building Belly?

We provide the digital connection between a business and its customers through a loyalty program that enables each business the ability to offer unique and exceptional rewards in-store. We started with rewards, but because we create this connection, there is a huge opportunity for us to deliver much more than just loyalty in the form of additional value for the businesses we work with. A major challenge for us has been figuring out which additional products to focus on. We have tried to overcome this by establishing and deepening the relationships we have with the businesses we work with—keeping constant communication with the over 7,000 businesses in our network has allowed us to focus on the products we know they will find most beneficial. We're able to roll out new features and products that our businesses tell us they actually want.

Q. What has been a major influence for the design or idea behind Belly?

Our platform is inherently fun and quirky. Not just for the sake of being fun and quirky, but because we understand the behavioral psychology behind customer retention. Customers go back into places not because they are getting a discount 2 weeks later on their credit card, or because they are getting the same stale item they've just purchased 10 of, but rather because they've become buddies with the owner, or they have a crush on the barista behind the counter, or they love the way the tacos are prepared. These are the connections we help solidify in-store. Belly offers very real rewards, both monetary and experiential, that get customers excited about returning. For this reason, our design needs to reflect the light-hearted nature and unique personalities of our partner businesses. You can see this in Flop, our mascot dog, and the way in which we approach our brand and copy.

Q. Who is this app for?

Any consumer who is annoyed with multiple loyalty cards weighing down their wallet and wants to actually get rewarded for their loyalty to a business. Any business owner who wants to engage and connect with their customers in a deeper way and provide incentives for guests to return more frequently. We are solving a problem that has been around since the beginning of commerce—and are utilizing tools that have just recently become accessible to business owners and consumers. It's a problem that needs a solution.

Q. Who would be a better spokesperson for Belly: Sasquatch, the Loch Ness, or a Roswell Alien?

The best spokesperson for Belly would be our iPads! The Belly tablet has become synonymous with loyalty, marketing expertise, and merchant success. Our Merchants recognize it as the hub for their business's loyalty program, and our Members know that it's where they can earn points for rewards they'll love. Even as we've grown as a company and expanded on what we're able to offer, the Belly iPad has remained the portal for our loyalty platform.

Q. What is in store for the future for Belly?

We will continue to provide tools that allow businesses the ability to make smarter, more actionable decisions about their customers. Loyalty will be the foundation, but there will be plenty of other value we will drive for both consumers and businesses. We want Belly to be synonymous with loyalty, customer retention and rewards by every business owner across the country. We are building a lasting company that will drive real impact for thousands of businesses and will ultimately change the landscape of physical commerce for the better. 

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