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Rewards card could boost Portland's local economy

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High Five
Thursday, May 27, 2010

A new Portland program aims to lift up the local economy by banding local businesses together with a shared rewards card.

Customers will earn points from a number of local businesses that can be redeemed at any of the participating merchants, 194 of whom have preregistered for the program.

Because Supportland only contracts with businesses that meet the definition of local as put forth by the Sustainable Business Network of Portland's criteria—privately held, with 50 percent or more of business ownership residing in Multnomah, Clackamas, Columbia, Yamhill, Washington, or Clark County, for instance—it's an easy indicator that you can feel confident your money's going toward sustaining the local economy...

Outside of convenience and flexibility, there is marketing power inherent in a shared, computerized platform. Big businesses have long used tracking information gathered through shoppers' rewards cards to hone their strategies, using software that has historically been out of reach for small businesses. Supportland gives their businesses access to those same kinds of metrics, so that they can track specifically how beneficial their promotions are in attracting and keeping customers. (Privacy note: Supportland doesn't make names or addresses accessible, just your Supportland account number.) By banding together, local independents can use the shared tracking software to determine how best to direct their energy, forming a united competitive front against corporate entities, rather than thousands of tiny Davids against a few Goliaths.

Read the whole article at the Portland Mercury.

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