This week, ECHO Lacombe Association launched a loyalty rewards program app, in accordance with its mandate to empower the community through innovative, collaborative business practices.
The app, called Placemaker, is designed to encourage consumers to shop-local and further develop a positive small businesses culture.
“It’s about cross pollinating and sharing those customers,” said Guy Lapointe, ECHO Lacombe Association advisor and the community of economic development manager with the City of Lacombe.
The Placemaker platform operates much like air miles, Lapointe explained. The beauty of the program is that you can earn points shopping at different establishments around the city, he said. Points can be pooled and redeemed for prizes like gift cards or free coffee.
So far, 17 businesses have signed up; including Cilantro & Chive, Blindman Brewing, Red Hot Threads, Sweet Capone’s, and the recently opened Good Neighbour Coffeehouse. Lapointe expects numbers to reach 25 by the end of this year.
“It’s the loyalty of loyalty programs in terms of supporting local businesses,” said Rieley Kay, owner of Cilantro and Chive, which celebrates its second birthday in Lacombe on Dec. 15th.
Kay is enthusiastic about the potential for rewarding his regulars. Placemaker allows people to check in when they visit, so he is glad to know he won’t miss extending thank you gestures, even when he’s off site.
“Our main thing is making sure that the people who come through our doors are rewarded—that the people who support us are appreciated and we’re looking after them,” Kay said.
He added that the platform encapsulates his company’s core values. “Rather than offering just a discount to our existing customer base, like many other shop-local programs, this encourages patronage and collaboration.”
The app has already had success in larger centers like Portland and Victoria, B.C., but Lacombe is the first small market to use it.
Lapointe explained that in Lacombe, “you can really tie into the entire community” versus how it has been used in larger cities just to rejuvenate the downtown core.
“It’s a unifying initiative and something that will really promote collaboration,” he said.
The ECHO Lacombe Association is a group dedicated to fostering collaborative and sustainable business practice within the City of Lacombe. It is made up of representatives from the City of Lacombe, Burman University, Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce, and five community members.
The Association hopes the app will be effective in encouraging shoppers to choose more sustainable local options while holiday shopping.
The official launch date is Nov. 23rd. It can be downloaded on Google Play and the App Store—search Placemaker local.
– Michelle Falk/Red Deer Express