Plink, the Denver-based online-to-offline rewards company, just hit the mark of 50,000 offline locations where Plink users can earn rewards, thanks to recent partnerships with travel companies like American Airlines, Intercontinental Hotel Group, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, as well as Gap.
Co-founder and CEO Peter Vogel said the next goal is to have a total of 100,000 locations on board by the end of 2013. This goal is pretty attainable, he said, because no other company offers rewards for daily offline purchases like Plink.
“We think there is a niche there that needs to be filled,” Vogel said. “There are probably hundreds of companies that run online affiliate programs or online shopping malls; they are a dime a dozen. There are not companies out there offering an offline program like this.”
Plink tracks users’ spending at partnered locations through credit or debit cards and awards users with Plink Points, which can be saved up and spent on goodies such as Amazon gift cards or airline miles.
Different from rewards programs on credit cards or cashback models at banks that typically reward consumers for 1 percent of their purchases, Plink is able to reward up to 5 to 10 percent because purchases are directly subsidized by brands. Although Plink earns commission on each purchase, brands are still more likely to partner with Plink than an online daily deals promotion, Vogel said, because then prices must be severely discounted and brand loyalty is not encouraged. Plink is a better way to encourage online-to-offline sales.
“We are showing these big brands a new way they can generate sales and we built Plink as a bridge between the online world and offline sales,” Vogel said. “If you are Burger King, how do you utilize your customers online? Up until a few years ago, the only way to do that was daily deals. But if you do a daily deal, you have to offer 60 to 70 percent off; you are potentially devaluing your product.”
That is where Plink comes in: giving brands a new way to buy advertising and rewarding consumers for their offline purchases. Because U.S. consumers still spend 80 to 90 percent of their money offline, Vogel said, Plink will continue capturing these offline sales and reach its goal of 500,000 users, especially with a mobile app launching in the next few weeks.
As Plink continues its nationwide growth with a goal of adding two “big” brands each month, Vogel said he is still appreciative of the initial support of the Denver community.
“We did work with Quizno’s and Red Robin which are both here in Denver,” Vogel said. “They were two out of our first six partners, so we did find some great local support from them. They took a chance on us when we didn’t even have a website live yet. We are thankful to them, being local and supporting us.”