Belly wants to reinvent the customer loyalty system

bellySince location-based deals first appeared on the horizon, a new wave of e-commerce companies have been making a play for small businesses’ business. The likes of Groupon, Google Offers, and LivingSocial (and the endless amount of clones) have been leveraging their assets to convince local retailers that they have what it takes not only to increase sales but to add a little social flare to the companies in question.

How effective this is has been heavily debated. It’s gotten to the “Groupon is bad for America!” point for detractors, who argue this discount-based culture is creating a dangerous attitude in consumers and a risky business model for retailers. Vendors are largely fed up being asked to participate with these various daily discount sites and increasingly wary of the effects: who is this setup really benefitting? Who is getting the return customers?

Enter, Belly.  The rewards-based service, which launches today, wants to replace the stamp card, and actually helps small businesses attack the digital incentive market. Step one: outfit participatng retailers with an iPad (yes, that comes with your membership).

After that, the basics of Belly might sound fairly familiar to other mobile payment platforms. Retailers pay per month for cards, marketing materials, and customer data software. Consumers can use one of the provided cards or the smartphone app (available for Android and iPhone) to scan their participation per visit and point of sale. You can also use the Belly-provided iPad as well. This, of course, leads to loyalty rewards.

Belly offers a free trial as well, so getting up and running seems relatively pain free for interested merchants. And it’s unequivocally easy for consumers as the smartphone app will tell you the participating stores in your area. It’s a welcome alternative for users who appreciate the benefits of Foursquare and like-minded apps but get lost in all the other platforms these check-in services try to tie themselves to.

We’d expect some resistance on the retailer end. This sector has grown incredibly disenchanted with anything even resembling a daily deal service, so Belly might have something of an uphill battle initially. But apparently it’s been growing quickly: according to company’s press release, “In just 12 weeks since its pilot launch, Belly has already racked up more than 18,000 users and 50,000 check-ins. Many stores are seeing more Belly check-ins than all other check-in services combined.”

Also a positive indicator of Belly’s potential is a recent, generous investment from Lightbank (a venture firm from former Groupon executives). In all the local-meets-e-commerce-meets-social chaos from the past few years, it’s difficult to pick out a sustainable model that benefits buyers and sellers equally. Belly could be a step in the right direction. 

Social Media

YouTube offers creators more ways to boost their bank accounts

Whether you're a top YouTube creator or just breaking into the game, the video-streaming site has some new features designed to help you please your fans and increase your bank balance.
How-To

Stop Facebook from tracking you and using targeted ads with these tips

Facebook and businesses that use the site track what pages you like, your political affiliation, and even try to guess your race. All of this is done so the site can target you with relevant ads. Here's how to opt out.
News

President Trump attacks Facebook Libra, says it’s not dependable like the dollar

President Trump attacked Facebook's new Libra cryptocurrency on Thursday, claiming it will have "little standing or dependability" and that Facebook would need to seek a banking charter if it wanted to move forward.
Social Media

The FTC will hit Facebook with a $5 billion fine over privacy violations

Facebook has agreed to a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its numerous “privacy missteps." Once it goes through, this would be the largest FTC fine for a major technology company – and a huge chunk of…
News

Lua uses animated emotions to help you keep your plants happy and healthy

The Lua Smart Planter is currently seeking funding on Indiegogo to make this smiling plant pot a reality. The device helps you take care of your plants by showing their needs through a series of animated faces.
Mobile

Flex your thumbs (and your brain) with these fun texting games

Gaming consoles keep getting more advanced, but you can still have fun with the good old Latin alphabet. Here are our picks for the best texting games, so you can make the most fun out of that limited data plan or basic cell phone.
News

Facebook says it won’t launch Libra until regulators are happy

Facebook says it won’t roll out its Libra cryptocurrency until it’s fully addressed regulatory concerns – though it added that regulation of the currency itself would largely happen in Switzerland, not the U.S.
Social Media

Twitter’s mobile-inspired dark mode desktop makeover isn’t just about looks

Twitter.com may have a new look, but it's one that already feels familiar. The new design for Twitter's desktop version borrows heavily from the platform's mobile apps, with a sleeker look, a new dark mode, and easier navigation.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Twitter’s redesign, Libra’s possible delay, Neuralink

On this episode of DT Live, we take a look at the biggest trending stories in tech, including a Twitter redesign, Facebook's delay of Libra, Neuralink's first public event, growing food in space, and the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.
News

The U.S. Senate really doesn’t like Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency plans

Facebook Libra had its first big regulatory test when Calibra head David Marcus appeared before the Senate Banking Committee. It didn’t go well. Senators of both parties had major concerns about Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency.
Social Media

Instagram is crashing repeatedly for some users. Here’s the latest on the outage

Thousands of Instagram users said Tuesday that the social media app was repeatedly crashing or not opening at all, the third time in just over a month that the social network has experienced issues.
Web

Dirty deeds are uncovered dirt cheap with these online background check resources

There are plenty of reasons for carrying out a background check, and not all of them are creepy. Here are several methods to run a background check on someone online, whether you need to vet a potential hire or a new babysitter.
Social Media

Study suggests using emojis makes you appear more friendly — even at work

Can emojis be a clue into your personality? A recent survey suggests that emojis make a person seem friendlier and more approachable, even when used within a professional work environment.
News

FaceApp says it won’t hold on to your face photos. Should you trust it?

If you use FaceApp, you've given its parent company permission to use your face photos for pretty much anything -- even though the app-maker says it won't use them for nefarious purposes or sell them to a third party.