7-Eleven is about to start installing the Belly mobile CRM app in 2,600 of its stores, a not surprising move given the mammoth convenience chain’s investments in the loyalty app firm.
“Belly started out in Chicago as a rewards program for small businesses that didn’t have the resources to create their own amenity programs. Instead of joining a bunch of individual loyalty programs, customers just signed up for one, Belly, using its app to check into iPad terminals at any participating businessm” Gigaom reported. “Each check-in accrues a certain number of points, which can be exchanged for goods or services determined by the retailer that awarded them, for instance a free appetizer at a restaurant or an invitation to an exclusive wine-tasting at a liquor store.”
The company then started cutting deals with national chains, including McDonalds, Chick-fil-As and some Chicago-area 7-Elevens, Gigaom said.
The story said that as Belly has started working the big players, it appears to have forgotten—or chosen to ignore—its roots. “As Belly becomes more corporate, I’ve also noticed that the small businesses that it previously focused on seem to be leaving or neglecting the program. Our neighborhood wine store stopped accepting Belly one day, while one of our favorite restaurants increasingly started leaving their Belly terminal off,” the story said. “There are still a lot of local businesses that use Belly here in Chicago, but it does seem that as big chains gain interest in Belly, smaller stores are losing it. Chances are those big retail chains represent a much more profitable market for Belly, which is fine, but it also makes Belly a lot less interesting. Belly’s local businesses have come up with some fairly unique rewards like a free cooking lesson from the chef of a neighborhood bistro or a local pet store’s offer to hand-sketch a portrait of your dog.”