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Too many cards? Dave’s Soda and Pet City teams up with The Loc Card to get universal loyalty

By Jim Kinney |

SPRINGFIELD — Getting a discount at checkout these days is like the beginning of a magic trick.

Pick a card, any card.

Loyalty programs — where a customer signs up and gives the merchant the ability to track his or her spending in return for discounts and offers — proliferate. And as they do, so do the number of cards, or key-chain tags, associated with these programs. At any given time, people might have cards for one or two supermarkets, gas stations, drug stores, hardware stores or wherever else they’ve decided to sign up. Lots of cards, lots of confusion.

In steps the Loc Card, a universal rewards card that has Dave’s Soda & Pet City signed up as one of its first member merchants. The chain has seven locations in the region.

“What I like about this is it is great for the consumer,” said Dave Ratner, the owner and founder of Dave’s, which hopes to have Loc Card in place before the busy holiday shopping season. “It also allows each merchant to run its own loyalty program. Nothing about my Dave’s Club changes. People just use one card to access it.”

Ratner said he has “thousands” of Dave’s Club members. They earn one point for every dollar they spend and a $10 Rewards Certificate at 300 points. They also get coupons and offers.

“We know you have a dog and probably aren’t interested in cat stuff,” Ratner said. “Not only do we know you have a dog, but we know what brand of food it eats.”

As he spoke, a woman, a new customer, signed up for a Dave’s card and bought a case of canned cat food.

“Now, in her email, we’ll not only send her a coupon for signing up, but wouldn’t it be great if she got a bounce-back coupon for a second case of cat food,” Ratner said, adding that the second coupon would be timed to arrive in about 20 days, about the same time the woman’s cat would finish the first case.

Brian Sealander, a local sales representative of Cincinnati-based Loc Card, said Dave’s Soda and Pet City captures about 90 percent of purchases in its loyalty club plan. That means Ratner has a lot of loyal customers who always use their card.

“That’s because we really work it with the loyalty program,” Ratner said. “We really make it worthwhile.”

Sealander said that loyalty makes Dave’s a good test market for Loc. Also, Sealander, a Springfield native now living in New Hampshire, grew up with Ratner, attending George Washington Elementary, Forest Mark Middle and the former Classical High School here.

The met again recently at a National Federation of Retailers event where Ratner was the featured speaker.

Sealander said he’s busy pitching the Loc Card to other Springfield-based chains. It’s only with several stores signed up that consumers will chose to ditch a scramble of cards for one Loc.

Sealander said the card was developed by retail veteran Jack Kennamer, who was checking out at a store when he saw a woman refuse to sign up for a loyalty program, discount or not, after shaking her stuffed key ring at the clerk and saying “I don’t have room for you!”

“We want to make Springfield a sort of test market,” he said. “It’s a big market, which you need, and it also has a lot of regional companies based here.”

Instead of filling out a form at the store, Loc users take a card and register it on a website – – or a mobile app. Consumers choose how much information to share with each company.

“They might want to tell Dave about their dog and cat, but not want to share that with anyone else,” Sealander said.

Ratner said he might set up computer kiosks in his stores so customers can sign up for Loc right there. It’ll cut down on people filling out paper forms that then have to be input.

“But I don’t want people to go home and forget about it,” Ratner said. “The whole idea is to have a way to reach people.”

The Loc Card website has a dashboard that lets consumers keep track of all their offers from all their various loyalty programs. They’ll know how many points they have at Dave’s, the gas station, wherever and what offers they have available.

“We’ll also let them know which offers are about to expire,” Sealander said.

The dashboard also allows member retailers to reach out to people who signed up through another store’s program, Ratner said. This gives him access to people who’ve never been to his store.

Loc gets paid an annual fee once a consumer uses it to sign up to a loyalty program.

Dave Ratner featured in MassLive
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Posted in Articles, Management, Marketing on October 21, 2013 by Dave Ratner.

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