Loyalty automation platform Glue today raked in $8 million in series A funding from private investors led by Unicorn Technologies. The startup says that the proceeds will be put toward nudging local businesses to adopt loyalty programs.
Retail has taken a major hit during the pandemic. Total sales are expected to hit 5.7% from 2019, nearly 12% below eMarketer’s pre-pandemic estimate of $26 trillion. Some data suggests that loyalty programs could help lessen future blows. According to Accenture, loyalty program membership in the U.S. grew at a rate of 26.7% from 2012 to 2014. And one recent survey found that 50% of consumers say their primary reason for joining a loyalty program is to earn rewards on purchases.
Glue offers a platform that attempts to gauge loyalty and facilitate the development of daily, weekly, and monthly engagement plans. It self-runs rewards, coupons, and points systems and provides tools for loyalty and sales growth analysis and reporting. Glue offers purchase and behavior tracking for customer targeting and tailors reward tiers to individual businesses; it can import data from existing customer relationship management software and enable customers to register for loyalty programs on their smartphones.
“Glue started as an app creator called Bobile. At the time, we thought every business needs an app, but after a while, we understood what’s really important to the business owners we spoke with is the ability to keep their customers coming back,” Glue CEO Ira Nachtigal, who cofounded Glue with Jacob Tenenboim and Dany Gal, told VentureBeat via email. “But, they are busy. Most local businesses don’t have the time, the knowledge, or the resources to manage it. Loyalty, when done right, is complex, so we decided not to create yet another loyalty tool, but rather to do the work for them.”
Glue supports loyalty strategies such as points-earning systems, coupons, loyalty cards, subscriptions, prepaid multi-passes, and play-to-win games. Customers can use it to schedule holiday and special occasions greetings, launch Google Ads growth campaigns, or encourage walk-ins with geofencing campaigns.
After completing a 15-minute onboarding questionnaire on Glue’s website, business owners receive a branded members club and a projection of savings. Glue claims its programs are customized by leveraging businesses’ customer data and pairing them with data points from 100,000 organizations, resulting in what the company calls an average savings of between $15,000 to $20,000 per small business and significant revenue growth.
“Glue collects the data from thousands of businesses around the world, analyzes the consumer behavior and optimizes the loyalty strategy that is built for every business,” Nachtigal explained. “For example, let’s say you own a coffee house in Boston. Glue already has a lot of information and accumulated knowledge about coffee shops and their consumers in the east coast. Using AI Glue knows what is most likely to work for your coffee house and your customers and given your specific price range, will be able to tailor a successful loyalty strategy for your coffee house.”
Glue has a number of competitors in the space. There’s AppCard, a mobile-first loyalty marketing program for small and medium-size retailers, as well as Punchh, a startup leveraging machine learning and omnichannel integrations to create customer journeys. Just last year, Drop, a coalition customer loyalty company headquartered in Toronto, raised $44 million. That’s all to say that 15-employee Glue will have to differentiate itself from the rest of the pack, but this latest funding round — and its growing number of coffee shop, cosmetic, pet store, service provider, and car repair shop customers — suggests that it’s had success in that respect.