January 15, 2014

Innovators’ Spotlight: Womply

“San Francisco startup offers merchants a data-driven business insights platform that does the heavy lifting for them.”
—By Adam Perrotta, Assistant Editor

While large retailers have long recognized the benefits of analytics and customer engagement programs, small and midsize merchants often find that the operational costs involved in setting up and running these programs are prohibitive. But San Francisco-based Womply wants to change that, offering a pair of cloud-based platforms that make tracking performance and launching customized loyalty programs “a snap” for merchants of any size. The startup isn’t taking a traditional route to marketing its services straight to merchants, rather Womply partners with payment processors, merchant acquirers and ISOs that can offer the Womply platform as a value-added proposition to their merchant clients.

One-Two Punch

Founded in 2011, Womply offers a pair of tools that use credit card transaction data to give merchants what the company describes as a no-fuss method of comparing their performance to other similar businesses and cultivating long-term relationships with key customers. Womply’s Insights platform tracks revenue, online reputation and social media performance, enabling merchants to monitor and evaluate their performance in each category and compare results to similar businesses in their own geographic area and other regions.

While large retailers are able to devote major resources to tracking such data, smaller merchants often don’t have access to much useful information, according to Womply CEO Jim Egbert. “Local merchants typically have gut level feelings about their business performance; however, there is little if any documentable proof of how they compare to other merchants,” Egbert tells Paybefore. “By partnering with processors, we make every credit card transaction occurring at the merchant’s business more valuable to the merchant and actionable to grow their business.”

Womply’s second tool, dubbed Loyalty Cloud, enables merchants to identify, engage and reward their best customers without requiring any new hardware, software or POS integration. Merchants can choose from a variety of reward criteria—such as requiring a certain number of repeat visits or total spend amount—or set up birthday rewards or random drawings. Loyalty Cloud automatically identifies the customers who qualify for rewards and manages the payout back to the consumer. Fully automating the tracking and redemption of rewards, Egbert says, enables merchants to reap the benefits of a loyalty program without having to devote the time and resources to administering the program. “Most loyalty programs require some sort of operational change for the merchant, whether a plastic or punch card or POS integration to track purchases,” notes Egbert. “By getting the consumer to register their payment card, the merchant doesn’t have to integrate anything on its end. Womply handles everything behind the scenes.”

The Value Proposition

Womply initially rolled out its platform to businesses in the Washington, D.C., area, including restaurants, dry cleaners, and health and beauty shops. Since that time, the company ramped up its expansion, inking a trio of major partnerships to expand its merchant base nationwide. In November, the company announced a deal with TSYS Merchant Solutions, which will offer Womply’s Insights platform to hundreds of thousands of its merchants. That deal followed the company’s October pact with merchant services provider Pivotal Payments, which serves more than 60,000 merchants, and its May deal with US Merchant Systems, an ISO with tens of thousands of retail merchants.

All three companies have opted to provide Womply Insights—which typically costs merchants $29 per month—at a discounted monthly rate to their merchant clients. For traditional processors and ISOs, being able to offer the Womply platform is an additional arrow in the quiver in the escalating fight against competition from tech startups entering the payments processing space, such as Square and Swipely, which are seeking to disrupt payments by competing with traditional processors and ISOs.

Established providers are recognizing the threat posed by these and other newcomers and seeking to ramp up their value-added services in response, says Egbert. “Processors, acquirers and ISOs are realizing there’s a lot of new technology entering the payments space and trying to figure out how to position themselves competitively with their merchants,” he notes. “We enable a processor, acquirer or ISO to remain competitive quickly by executing a quick go-to-market strategy.”

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