The Power of Sharing Rewards

October 28, 2010

There’s a network of 55 local businesses in the Portland, Oregon area that share a rewards card.

There’s a network of 55 local businesses in the Portland, Oregon area that share a rewards card. People who buy goods or services at any of the stores earn points, which they can also redeem at any of the operators. By January, shoppers will be able to use an iPhone app instead of a physical card to accept and redeem points.

The concept belongs to as a way to help keep dollars on Main Street rather than flow to distant, corporate-owned retailers. The plan of owners Michael and Katrina Scotto di Carlo is to concentrate on greater Portland and southwest Washington through summer of 2011. The longer-term plan is to expand to trading areas throughout the United States, using an infrastructure that can be re-branded.

Cards are free to consumers; businesses pay $49 per month to be in the network, reported The Oregonian. About 300 businesses are in the queue to be registered, Ms. Scotto di Carlo told the paper. simplifies rewards for consumers, and exposes businesses to a broader base of people shopping in their area.

The Lempert Report believes supermarkets have a couple of options: 

First, serve as an anchor retailer within a local network – especially if they haven’t any frequent shopper program in place. It could be an efficient way to dispense rewards and build trip frequency and bigger baskets. At the same time, the supermarket could benefit from being in a pool that includes many stores that don’t compete directly with it, yet do fill essential household needs.

Second, if supermarkets already run a frequent shopper program, perhaps they could emphasize their local angle by offering extra discounts upon the purchase of locally produced foods. This could differentiate the store’s variety, which connects well with today’s trend to eat more local foods and to eat healthier.