Q&A with CardStar CEO, Andy Miller
Are all those loyalty cards weighing your wallet down? CardStar, a smartphone app, wants to help with that.
The platform, available on the BlackBerry, iPhone and Android, allows shoppers to digitize their reward cards – enter the store and card number and it creates a bar code that can be scanned by cashiers.
On July 27, CardStar introduced an iPhone app that allows users to check in on the location-based service Foursquare while using their loyalty card for a particular store.
CardStar CEO Andy Miller recently spoke with DMNews.
DMNews: How long has CardStar been around?
Andy Miller: We launched the app into the app store January 14th of 2009. The company was formed back in 2008. We spent a few months building the app out.
DMNews: Why is this idea a winner in your opinion?
Miller: First of all, we all have loyalty cards, and we have a lot of loyalty cards. We don't even realize it. It's membership cards, it's gym memberships, it's Costco memberships, it's airline cards, it's hotels, it's rental cars, it's grocery stores – all of these things. We carry around lots and lots of plastic every day, and whether it's in your wallet or on your key chain, it's kind of annoying. The idea here is to be able to create a convenience to be able to digitally store all these cards in one location.
The second reason it's a winner: Once we've been able to consolidate these cards all in one place for a consumer, we actually create that channel for the merchant to communicate with their most valuable customers in kind of a real-time manner. When you think about how retailers have historically communicated with their customers, it started out in print. They gave them offers in the Sunday newspaper. Then it went to Web. There was brochureware, then it was coupons on the Web. Then it went to e-mail. In all cases you're still kind of tethered.
Now everyone's walking around with these smartphones. And mobile couponing is nothing new. It's been around for a while. The challenge has been there's not a real connection to the consumer. So CardStar will only ever push content to a user that it 100% relevant to the merchants they have in their card catalog.
DMNews: How many people are using CardStar now?
Miller: We have approximately 600,000 unique actives.
DMNews: Tell me about your Foursquare iPhone app and how it works exactly.
Miller: They have an open API (application programming interface). This notion of checking in at a location is great. But when you look at the individual companies, like Goala or Foursquare, or how people are using them, they're primarily checking in at places like bars and restaurants. The user base seems to be an early adopter at this point.
There are going to be CardStar users who are Foursquare users, so if you're going to check in some place, you in essence have to open up to two separate applications… We said that doesn't make sense. Let's just consolidate these and pull the Foursquare content into CardStar and tailor it around our workflow. So when you go to CVS and open it up, in one click you've checked in to Foursquare through CardStar.