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Lokalty – Discovering and Supporting Local Businesses

Lokalty is an online loyalty program seeking to support local businesses in Philadelphia. It does this by rewarding users who spend money at any of the participating businesses. There are over 50 businesses that are taking part in the loyalty program and whenever a shopper buys something from any of these businesses, they accumulate points which can be redeemed at any participating business.

Lokalty was started by Phillip Tribe, Balu Chandrasekaran, and Bipen Sasi, three University of Pennsylvania graduates. This business has revolutionized recommendation, loyalty and reward systems all over Philadelphia. Because merchants are interested in growing and retaining their customer base so that they can be assured of steady sales, Lokalty has been more than a partner for businesses here. They have completely redefined the recommendation and reward space.

At the moment, Lokalty is only available in Philadelphia and only businesses based here can benefit from the service. According to their website, Lokalty was started in February, 2011 out of an idea the three graduates had when working out at a gym in Rittenhouse. It took them a number of months to work the program out and finally they launched it.

What motivated these three from coming up with the idea is the ineffectiveness of daily deals which had been around for quite some time and the need for a solution that would be beneficial to both the customer and the merchant.

Lokalty Challenges

Just like any program or business, Lokalty has had its fair share of challenges and according to Chandrasekaran, they have had to take on difficult tasks from time to time such as marketing to consumers and businesses so as to keep their model afloat and create awareness.

Most businesses especially the small business owners were resistant to the idea at first because their main interest was to see their costs being addressed instead of promises of increased revenue that Lokalty was pitching for.

What Makes Lokalty Special

Because no hurdle is too high to be jumped, Lokalty overcame the startup challenges and rolled out its loyalty card which brought together the network of merchants who had enrolled. The interesting part with this program is that you can buy coffee in one restaurant and get a free bagel in another.

The fact that you can use points from one merchant within the network to buy something from another merchant is the selling point of the business model Lokalty uses. The program not only encourages repeat business at one merchant, but also encourages discovery and repeat business in all the other merchants within the network. At the end of it, everybody stands to benefit.

Current and Future Plans of Lokalty

The merchants currently within Lokalty network include traditional coffee shops, breakfast spots, comic bookstores, bike shops, pet shops, and even shoes stores. The customer base according to the company is now at 3,500 users with more expected to join in.

Because Philadelphia has a wealth of locally-owned businesses, Lokalty aims at reaching out to every one of them. Their concentration and focus is currently on small businesses and never big box retailers. They have an app available for download known as Lokalty app.

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