Shop Main Street is a program that combines the interests of credit unions, local businesses, and consumers and puts it smack-dab in the middle of tech-savvy social media services and smart phone apps. It’s an exciting new venture that’s expected to arrive in the metro Detroit area very soon.
Why Detroit? According to Ron Stack, it was kind of a game of chance. “We knew we wanted to launch [Shop Main Street] in area where we already had a fair amount of business, and that happened to be the Metro Detroit area.” Stack is the COO of Zavee, a startup based in Florida that provides the technology platform. They’ve partnered with RewardsNOW, the leading company for supplying rewards for credit unions, to release Shop Main Street to Metro Detroit.
So just what is a loyalty program?
Stack said that originally a lot of the loyalty industry has grown up around rewards being made by sponsors, such as Macy’s offering 10% off for spending $100.
“Credit unions have loyalty programs too, such as the traditional ‘get a free toaster for opening an account,’” Stack said. “Eventually this changed to more of a points system, similar to airlines offering frequent flyer miles.”
Smaller financial institutions use companies such as RewardsNOW, based in New Hampshire, not just to set up loyalty programs but also to help differentiate themselves from other bigger or more well-known credit unions.
RewardsNOW President and CEO Steven VanFleet said that the goal of his company is to create a sort of win-win scenario for local communities. “It’s cost-efficient, it informs merchants and consumers on a timely basis, and it helps banks build their communities through more business and customer connections.”
VanFleet has been a part of RewardsNOW for the last 14-15 years, but has been a part of the financial world from the days when, as he describes it, “ATM’s were the size of a house.”
“I’ve always been close to financial services and I’ve also worked on the merchant side, so this company is really the merger of those two interests,” VanFleet said. He also had nothing but praise for the city of Detroit.
“I think that Michigan, more than any place else, is seeing a push for rebirth,” VanFleet said. “Detroit has had some harder times but their community is working together and I think they’ll continue to pull in entrepreneurs that are going to come up with some good ideas.”
In addition to launching Shop Main Street at roughly 15 credit unions that are already enrolled in RewardsNOW, Stack recently traveled to Detroit to recruit sales representatives and encourage merchants to sign up.
“Whenever we move into a new region [such as Detroit], we don’t like to bring in a team of folks from our offices in Florida,” Stack said. “We prefer to recruit and train people from the area that are more knowledgeable about their communities to better address the needs of consumers and businesses.”
Stack also said that his visit to the city has made him even more excited about the launch.
“I’m glad we’re in Detroit…I really admire the spirit of the people and their commitment to local businesses,” Stack said. “I think our program can not only help their economy, but also reward them for the progress they’re making.”
For more information about Shop Main Street, please visit their website.