Lauren O'Reilly and Bidemi Afolabi are both pharmacists who have turned their experience of customer behaviour into ProMotion, a business that gives brands clear insights into who is buying their products and rewards customers for going shopping.
“From working in retail, we could see how people felt good when they had built up rewards and were able to spend them and we could also see how valuable . . . spending insights were to the retailer,” O’Reilly says. “However, the brands [themselves] were not getting the same access to this consumer information and certainly not across all retail channels from pharmacies and supermarkets to petrol stations and other places where their products were sold. With ProMotion Rewards they can see exactly who is buying what.”
ProMotion Rewards works with a phone app and is very much driven by the consumer. They choose if they want to submit a receipt for something they’ve bought and if they do, they are rewarded for sharing their shopping information. Like with most conventional loyalty schemes, ProMotion users receive points for every receipt shared. What’s different is that these points are converted into cash which the user can access through PayPal, or, if they prefer, they can donate the money to a charity of their choice.
Underpinning the business are its brand partners, who fund the customer rewards while also paying ProMotion a commission to use its platform. If a receipt features one of these brand partners, the customer gets bonus points. Also, unlike existing retail loyalty programmes which are typically tied to specific locations, those using the ProMotion app are rewarded for their loyalty regardless of where they buy something.
‘Fun and engaging’
“ProMotion is a fun and engaging way of receiving rewards for the shopping you already do and with extras such as additional offers and surveys that people can participate in based on their shopping habits, we provide multiple ways to earn rewards,” O’Reilly says. Wearing their healthy living hats, O’Reilly and Afolabi have also decided to offer users bonus points if they hit 5,000 steps a day every week, and they are picking up the tab for this.
“Our users can also avail of offers in the app based on their shopping habits,” O’Reilly adds. “So, if someone normally purchases in the baby items category, they could get a relevant offer from a baby brand such as 33 per cent back as points when they buy a certain product. The customer just scans their receipt as normal and they get the points straight away.”
O’Reilly says the app allows brands to get granular with sales information across on- and offline channels and the full spread of retail outlets. “With our receipt data, they can analyse down to the product level. It also allows them to choose audiences for market research based on actual purchase behaviours rather than based on demographics or on pre-selected interests alone,” she says.
Investment in the business to date has been in the order of €50,000, which has come from a combination of early angel funding and support from the New Frontiers programme at TU Dublin Blanchardstown, Dublin City LEO and the Trinity College LaunchBox accelerator. Development costs were contained as Afolabi, who is the company's technical and product lead, is also a full-stack software developer.
ProMotion Rewards will be launched in Ireland in March, when its brand partners will be announced. O'Reilly says the goal then is to move quickly into the UK, followed by mainland Europe.
“Basically, our competition comes from legacy market-research solutions but what we’re offering is completely different so the two are not really comparable,” O’Reilly says. “Up to now there were limited ways consumers could get something in return for doing their shopping. For example, participation in consumer panels is not open to all. With ProMotion anyone can be part of the ‘panel’ and be rewarded for just doing their shopping.”