Many brick-and-mortar merchants in the real world just want customers, but don’t have the time to learn the nuances of the various performance marketing tools and other programs at their disposal today. They just want new customers, or they just want to increase traffic during the slower parts of the day, for example. A new service called CardSpring Connect, launching today, now helps with that. The platform offers a self-serve online dashboard that allows merchants to easily create campaigns, connect apps like Foursquare, Thanx, MOGL, OnStripe and others, then sit back and watch as the analytics update in real-time with each swipe of a customer’s card at checkout.
CardSpring Connect is the latest from CardSpring, a payments infrastructure startup founded by former Netscape engineers as a means of connecting online and mobile applications to payment cards via APIs.
Foursquare had previously partnered with CardSpring and First Data earlier in 2013 to offer Visa and MasterCard cardholders discounts and other deals when they check in at particular venues. And in May, CardSpring partnered with VeriFone, integrating with the company’s PAYware Connect payments gateway to enable developers to build card-linked services for point-of-sale systems.
Until today, though, CardSpring was focused on letting developers build card-linked applications that trigger when a customer pays by credit or debit cards, but not on merchant-facing solutions. CardSpring Connect changes that.
Now, the company is targeting merchants via their financial partners and processors, offering them “set it and forget it” tools that let them build their own campaigns that they can then switch on or off with a click of a button going forward. By default, CardSpring will handle the campaigns on its own, automatically distributing the promotion requests to all the supported services, but merchants can choose to get more granular and restrict which programs are used.
In an online dashboard, merchants can access their account, connect apps to their business (like Foursquare, Trialpay, Thanx, MOGL, Roximity, Moblico, OnStripe, etc.), and track transactions. Here, businesses can see whether customers are new or returning, transaction amounts, the estimated lifetime spend for those customers and the cost merchants paid to the related service to bring those customers in.
To give an example of how this may work: say a business wants to target Foursquare to bring in new customers. They could go into the campaign manager and click through a form to create an offer (e.g. a dollar amount or a percentage off, or whatever deal they may want to run), restrict it to Foursquare, and click to turn it on. As the customers come into the store and swipe their cards at checkout, the dashboard is updated with the transaction data. Though customer names and personal details are anonymized, the merchant now has a better understanding of how well that campaign actually performed. And they only pay for the actual purchases redeemed, which is what’s meant by “performance marketing.”
“One of the things we hear most from people who use Foursquare is how much they love using our app to find great deals,” said Steven Rosenblatt, Chief Revenue Officer at Foursquare about the integration. He says the company is looking forward to the launch of CardSpring Connect because it provides an easy way for merchants to create card-linked offers that helps Foursquare users save more money.
CardSpring Connect itself is an open and neutral platform, allowing retailers to essentially turn their point-of-sale terminals into their own local marketing solutions, says Walther, who refers to the platform as a “local commerce operating system.”
“For the first time you can really see from all these providers, if they sent you new customers,” explains CardSpring CEO Eckart Walther. “That was one of the challenges with Groupon – something like 40% of the people who bought a coupon were not new,” he adds.
“Our whole value proposition is that we go out and help these old, traditional folks turn on our system…There’s really nothing like it in the offline world,” he says, explaining that, offline, there hasn’t been an easy way to identify which customers were new, which service brought them in, and what they’re spending.
With CardSpring Connect, merchants can use the system with any point-of-sale system. The system is typically white labeled, so companies providing the merchant’s credit card services (e.g. First Data, VeriFone, or local processors, etc.) could switch it on for their business customers. On this front, CardSpring plans to have additional announcements in the near future.
Getting other to partner with the company will be a critical step in CardSpring’s growth, since its business is built on a licensing model where publishers pay to use the platform. Walther explains that it charges similarly to the way credit cards are charged today – a small fixed fee, and if there’s a redemption, there’s sometimes a small percentage of that redemption. Generally, the charges are around 10 to 30 cents, he says. “It’s a fluid business model,” he says.”We charge when we create value.”
Following today’s launch of CardSpring Connect, the company will be announcing more partnerships with other financial institutions, payment networks, and point-of-sale makers that will help CardSpring gets its platform in front of more merchants. Interested customers can learn more here on the company’s website.