You may have a loyalty card at a chain grocery store, major department store or even your favorite nationwide coffee shop. Now, you could get a similar chance to earn rewards by shopping at a local, small business.
PerkPug Inc., founded by Rich Maturo of Inverness, uses bar code technology that can be scanned to record your purchases at small businesses in Barrington as well as downstate Champaign. The program is expected to expand and add more suburbs and stores.
"There are still a lot of folks out there who don't have a smartphone and can't download an app," said Maturo. "And PerkPug lets them earn rewards almost immediately."
Maturo, a marketing and research executive who has worked with Procter & Gamble, Kraft, Walgreen and Wal-Mart, wanted to create a loyalty program geared toward small businesses that couldn't otherwise create an app or do what larger chains do.
"A lot of mom-and-pop stores can't compete with Starbucks or the bigger stores, but they still want to reward their customers," he said.
Last October, he started PerkPug in Champaign, getting feedback from a diverse population, including many students.
In May, the program expanded into Barrington, where about 1,300 registered shoppers use their PerkPug card to earn rewards at 12 merchants, including a sit-down restaurant, a fast-food store, a gas station minimart and a sweet shop.
In mid-July, PerkPug will begin an advertising, marketing and cross-promotional program as it begins to add more merchants, who subscribe to the service. Consumers get and use the program card for free.
PerkPug uses bar code technology that appears as a label on a card. That label can then be peeled off and stored on any other card, if you want. Consumers also don't need to provide any personal information, such as an email address or phone number. It still will keep track of your purchases and lead you to a treat or reward offered by a participating merchant.
"It's universal and merchants can sign you up at the point of sale," Maturo said.
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