The City of Foster in California implemented an incentivised shop local scheme for multiple eateries to support independent businesses & boost the local economy.
Located in the Golden State of California, Foster City is a tight-knit community of over 30,000 residents. Home to many families and young professionals, they enjoy the areas relatively warm all-year-round weather, the abundance of eateries and parks, as well as a safe livelihood afforded by some of the lowest crime rates in the US.
As part of an economic development program, the local government, The City of Foster City, was seeking a ‘shop local’ rewards solution to further boost the city’s independent businesses.
The City of Foster City was looking for a stamp card that could be rolled out seamlessly to many businesses across the city. They wanted to incentivise residents to purchase from local businesses over chains.
Shortly after coordinating their in-store loyalty program, COVID-19 hit. The pandemic further drove their need to assist local businesses but their approach changed.
Instead of an in-store stamp solution, it was adapted to a pick-up model. The main reward became a money-off voucher to spend at participating stores, which was subsidised by the Foster City, and not the business.
The primary goals that the City of Foster City strived to achieve with their digital rewards solution were to:
- Support local businesses by incentivising residents to shop at their stores.
- Provide a loyalty program that could be implemented across multiple business locations.
- Provide financial reimbursement to businesses and help boost the local economy, especially in light of COVID-19.
- Enhance a connection between customers and participating businesses within the Foster City community.
- Offer residents a user-friendly and contactless stamp card.
- Have a secure platform that would prevent fraud and misuse.
- Access loyalty program users basic data and subsequently further communicate to residents.
Learn more about how a community passport campaign can help boost local business.
Loyalty Program Works
The Foster City loyalty program has been implemented by multiple cafes and restaurants across the district.
Residents download the Stamp Me app and join the offer by finding a business using the ‘explore new offers’ geo-location feature in-app. Alternatively, they will automatically be joined to the loyalty program offer when they collect a stamp for the first time.
The loyalty program offer is shared which means users can collect stamps on only one card from any of the participating businesses in Foster City.
Every time a resident makes a purchase at a participating Foster City business, they get one stamp on their 10-stamp digital punch card.
Once all 10 stamps on the card are filled, a $20 voucher is automatically triggered which can be redeemed at any of the participating businesses. The reward voucher is saved in their list of ‘my rewards’ on the Stamp Me app.
But that’s not the only reward offered by the Foster City program!
1. The City of Foster City primarily uses our innovative Stamp Mate™ device for customers to collect their stamps and redeem their reward.
The Stamp Mate is a small plastic device that uses NFC and Bluetooth technology. When a customer places the back of the phone near, or on top of the device, a stamp is issued.
2. As a back-up, businesses also have a QR stamp code handy. Customers simply press ‘scan code instead’ which triggers the camera so the QR code can be scanned for a stamp.
Both stamp validation solutions provide contactless validation – important for these times!
A multi-media marketing approach ensures that all residents of Foster City are aware of the Stamp Me loyalty program and its benefits.
Video is an increasingly effective medium to quickly show people how the loyalty program works. The City of Foster City have created a fun promotional video as well as a short instructional animation.
Both of these videos have been published to their Facebook page with over 1,800 followers.
In addition to sharing the videos, the marketing team posts regular prompts about the Stamp Me loyalty program to ensure the message has not been missed.
Individual businesses on the program are also encouraged to promote Stamp Me on their own social media channels.
A dedicated page on the City of Foster City’s council website allows residents to learn more about the Stamp Me program. They use the following messaging on their homepage:
“The City is kicking off the “Get It Here: Support Local Foster City” Campaign. Learn how you can support our local businesses and get free swag here”
Once onto the page, information is provided on how to download the app, join an offer, redeem rewards, in addition to a list of participating businesses.
Program participants are regularly kept up-to-date with the latest offers via push notifications to their mobile phone. They are also reminded of their $10 sign-up reward voucher.
These are sent to all members, or a select number of people, through the Merchant Console.
How Rewards are Redeemed
Step 1: When placing an order on the phone with the local business, customers mention they have a $10 or $20 reward voucher they wish to redeem
Step 2: When customers come to pick up and pay for their order, they open the Stamp Me app and find their reward vouchers under their list of ‘my rewards’
Step 3: The customer presses ‘redeem now’ and places their phone on top of the Stamp Mate Device which redeems the reward
Step 4: The business removes the voucher value from the final bill and the customer pays for their take-out
The City of Foster City has decided to add an additional layer of security by making customers validate their redemption in person using the Stamp Mate device we provided them with.
Our default reward redemption process is for customers to press ‘redeem now’ and show the staff a moving countdown reward voucher screen (showing for 3 minutes).
How the Subsidisation Works
Once the $10 sign up and/or the $20 main reward is redeemed, Foster City subsidises the business who gave the discount.
Information on who has redeemed their reward and at what business, is determined through data provided on their Stamp Me Merchant Dashboard.
A weekly redemption report is sent to the City of Foster City which is used to reimburse the businesses.
With well over 1,200 customers using the program (and growing!), The City of Foster City have injected a sizeable boost to their local economy.
As time goes on, more businesses are realising the advantages of a contactless loyalty program and have been signing up to join their fellow independent traders.
Since adopting the Stamp Me app, the City of Foster City have:
- Effectively incentivised customers to spend money at the city’s local businesses.
- Increased the number of customers visiting local businesses instead of chain stores or companies outside of the city.
- Provided a solution, in addition to grants, which has financially supported businesses during this hard time.
- Boosted a sense of community between residents and businesses.
- Created a sense of urgency from residents to support their city.
- Safeguarded residents with a contactless loyalty solution.
Learn more about running community passport campaigns on Stamp Me.
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If you’re a local government or council, community organisation, shopping centre or co-ordinator who is looking into rolling out a loyalty scheme across multiple businesses and locations, please do get in touch with us to discuss your objectives!