New rewards app debuts on NI high street
Jason Lacken is an architect by trade, but after spotting a gap in the market for a multi-venue reward programme, he decided to try his hand as an entrepreneur.
What makes the Downpatrick man's story all the more remarkable is that Jason recently launched an app for independent retailers called Receet – despite having no technical background.
He simply realised the need for the product and set about making it a reality. That was two years ago and earlier this month Receet, also the company's name, was launched in the coastal town of Bangor.
It has already won the backing of 25 independent retailers in Bangor and has attracted more than 1,000 new consumers who have already processed 6,000 receipts.
Among those companies who have signed up to Receet are the Bangor Aurora and Aquatic Leisure Complex, Pickie Park, which is one of the top 10 tourist attractions in the province, and Surf Mountain.
And the boss of Receet is in talks with six other councils here as well as several in Scotland about rolling Receet out to a wider audience.
Jason explained the concept: "It's about being able to engage with your customer in a more sustainable, intelligent and personal way like the big retailers."
He wanted a tool that was similar to Sainsbury's Nectar Card, Tesco Clubcard or Boots Clubcard which rewards customers every time they make a purchase.
Jason, who until recently also owned a fast food business, wanted customers to be rewarded for their loyalty, while enticing new trade.
"That capability was not available to me," he said. "It did not exist so we drew up a spec for the business enterprise software that independent businesses would be able to use."
Jason used the technical skills of Northern Ireland company Design Zoo to create Receet, which he now manages from his office at Queen's Parade in Bangor.
"We basically give small businesses their own in house CRM (Customer Relation Management) system with no barriers to entry," he explained. "It is very easy to use. For a small business it is ideal."
Consumers can download the app through the AppStore or GooglePlay and they gain points, which can be exchanged for rewards by sending a photograph of their receipt to Receet.
They can snap any receipt, in any shop, in any country but if the retailer is signed up to Receet they get additional points. Rewards available include retail vouchers, beauty packages, Kindles and iPads.
"It has been quite a career progression," Jason laughed. However, judging by its performance so far Receet is proving popular with both consumers and traders.
"There are so many loyalty schemes now that customers expect to be rewarded when they buy something. If they think they are getting more, that is where they are going to shop," Jason explained.
Receet also "enables businesses to work together to increase footfall" and entice shoppers into town centres.
Jason said: "Businesses see the value when they come together for a common strategy."
With the initial launch having gone "far better than we expected", Jason has his sight set on having Receet in every high street in the UK.
For details visit www.receet. co.uk.