7-Eleven Goes Belly Upload

Retailer testing digital loyalty platform

DALLAS -- 7-Eleven Inc. is among the retailers working with digital loyalty platform Belly. The Chicago-based startup supplies brick-and-mortar merchants with a dedicated iPad, typically set up at the cash register. Consumers get a Belly card, available in physical form or via a mobile device, that can be scanned by the iPad at all participating businesses. Customers receive points for their visits and can redeem those points for rewards determined by the individual merchants.

7-Eleven spokesperson Margaret Chabris confirmed for CSP Daily News that the retailer is doing a test with Belly, but has not made any details public.

Belly founder and CEO Logan LaHive told The Chicago Tribune that his company's technology is now at more than 5,000 locations in 15 markets. About 10% of that network is enterprise clients, or large chains with multiple locations. LaHive said that Belly, prompted by interest from big companies in adopting the loyalty platform, spent the last six months redesigning its technology for large-scale customers. The startup provides numerous merchant tools, accessible on the dedicated iPad, such as customer data analytics.

Along with Dallas-based 7-Eleven, some of the companies that have signed up with Belly are McDonald's, Subway, Domino's Pizza and Chick-fil-A, said the report. Not every location of these chains will use Belly's program, but the new technology platform is designed to handle large corporate accounts if companies decide to include locations.

In the case of several of these clients, such as 7-Eleven, Belly was already in multiple locations before the launch of its new technology platform.

"Part of what we did early on was focus on regional pilots--franchise owners, small locations--to be able to understand what the demands from (the corporate level) would be," LaHive said. "We used the phenomenal performance of the smaller relationships and pilots, and packaged that data to send up to the enterprise level."

The new platform will also be what small businesses use, and LaHive said Belly continues to be focused on its network of local merchants. "We view the enterprise channel [as] completely additive," he said. "It's additional team members, infrastructure and growth on top of what we consider our core."

According to a TechCrunch report, 7-Eleven sent an email touting a contest that would allow Belly users a chance to win free Slurpees for a year at area stores. Specifically, the email said that "you can now Belly at all 7-Eleven Chicago locations." 7-Eleven is also live on the Belly website.

Belly now serves more than 5,000 locations across 46 states, the report said, and it has more than one million consumer members who have checked in at stores more than nine million times.

7-Eleven operates, franchises, or licenses approximately 10,000 7-Eleven stores in North America. Globally, there are some 50,000 7-Eleven stores in 16 countries. During 2011, 7-Eleven stores worldwide generated total sales of more than $76.6 billion.