Stario Inc. today plans to launch Stario Server 1.0, a customer-retention solution designed to allow companies to create their own branded loyalty programs.
Using the Stario server as the back-end technology, Web sites can create their own private-label loyalty programs using points or gift certificates as incentives to get consumers to spend more time, more money or give more data, according to Harsha Raghavan, CEO of Stario Inc., Santa Clara, CA.
“We're a plug-and-play solution that can be up and running in days and gives the merchant complete control over their programs, their data and their brand,” he said.
Stario's offering differs from other competitors such as Netcentives and MyPoints in that it functions entirely behind the scenes.
Many of the current online currency providers are more interested in promoting the use of their branded currencies, according to Raghavan.
“The names MyPoints and ClickMiles are brand-diluting instead of brand-enhancing. They are in a different business,” he said. “They're trying to build their brands.”
Another difference, he said, is that other points providers “want you to use their network of vendors. We have a lack of network dependence.”
Through Stario, sites can create their own currency and provide their own awards. Chipshot.com, for example, is in negotiations to use this technology later this year.
“There are a lot of companies out there doing network points like Netcentives,” said Nick Mehta, vice president of interactive marketing for Chipshot.com, Sunnyvale, CA. “We wanted something more private label where there weren't any kinds of other companies or brands involved.”
Much like its competitors, in addition to helping to create these programs, Stario can build user profiles. Once the server is installed, customer information is collected, allowing the merchant to track, measure and analyze customer data. Merchants reward customers according to their personal interests and patterns.
Some points providers offer private-label programs, but they are considerably more expensive than Stario's minimum monthly fee of $4,000 for transactions and consulting. Stario hopes to proliferate the Web unbeknownst to consumers.
“We want to be the DoubleClick of loyalty. Consumers browse the Net and never hear about DoubleClick, although they are hitting their servers all of the time,” said Raghavan. “The same will happen with Stario.”
The company is in negotiations with other clients such as NextPlanetOver and eHarmonie.com. It has $1.85 million in funding and is seeking second-round funding this quarter.