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Plink Looks to Expand

Plink will be expanding outside of its traditional restaurant base in the next couple of months, Peter Vogel, co-founder and CEO of the Denver, Colo.-based online-to-offline loyalty program, told Loyalty 360.

The company currently is focused on the restaurant market, offering rewards for Arby’s, Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Outback Steakhouse and Taco Bell as well as 7-Eleven and a few other partners. But in the next several weeks, a specialty home goods retailer, a gift business, a rental car firm and another travel-related business are expected to join the Plink network.

Vogel added that other companies from other industries are also part of Plink’s expansion plans, though any of those partnerships are still in the planning stages.

“Plink is a powerful coalition,” Vogel said. “If we limit it to only restaurants, then members can take advantage of only a small percentage of their purchasing power. Our goal is to be a large player across several different verticals to enable customers to earn rewards faster and faster.”

Consumers can earn rewards much more quickly if they can shop across different types of stores, rather than just eating in a Plink partner restaurant every few days, Vogel added.

To participate, consumers register their preferred payment card with Plink, which tracks all spending and distributes all rewards. At this time, Plink only allows customers to register a single card, though a multiple-card system may be available in the future, according to Vogel. Consumers like the program because they don’t have to carry a collection of loyalty cards or punch cards in their wallet, only the registered payment card, Vogel added.

That differs from many other partnership programs offered by banks because those typically are limited to the bank’s own credit card, Vogel said. Airline programs often have partners as well, but it takes a long time to build up enough points to earn a reward.

Other programs require that merchants adopt new POS systems, Vogel added.

The Plink program works with existing POS systems and enables customers to use rewards at any one of the participating partners. So the customer can go to Taco Bell for several nights until earning the required number of points and then can cash the points in for rewards, such as a Wal-Mart or Amazon gift card or Facebook credits.

“We’re not Groupon; we consider ourselves the anti-Groupon,” Vogel added. The company tracks all rewards as well as incremental sales that the merchants use after joining the program. Working with Yodlee, Plink offers merchants 90 days of a customer’s past spending history, which enables the merchant to see changes in spending habits after the consumer joins Plink. That enables the merchant to judge the effectiveness of the Plink program. 

According to Vogel, Plink merchants have enjoyed a significant boost in their transactions after joining the Plink program.

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