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Adored launches at Cafe La Reine in Manchester. Photo by Rebecca Fishow.




Getting Adored
Former Dyn CTO launches local customer loyalty app

11/06/14



For the last six years, Cory von Wallenstein helped grow the high-tech Internet performance company Dyn of Manchester into a massive business; its heavy-hitting client list includes the likes of Twitter, Netflix, CNBC and Etsy. 

As CTO and chief technologist, von Wallenstein was primarily interested in one thing: how to deliver a better experience for businesses and their custumers. He is also a self-proclaimed “early phase person” who loves to see projects get off the ground. 
After transitioning away from Dyn, he set off on a new venture, a mobile application called Adored that is aimed at making customer experiences at Manchester’s local businesses even better. 
“The core of our company is putting user experience first. The first thing we are going to tackle is loyalty,” von Wallenstein said. 
Customers with the Adored app are automatically identified when they walk into a participating business. The app delivers loyalty rewards and information about discounts and services. It officially launched last week with local Manchester businesses including The Palace Theatre, Cafe La Reine, Ignite, Mint and the Shaskeen Pub. 
“We have great opportunity to make experiences more intimate between consumers and merchants. Like if you have a favorite drink, they will know and start making it when you come in,” von Wallenstein said. “As you walk out of the Palace Theater [after seeing] a real great show, there can be real-time promotions saying ‘Come to Mint and get half off sushi, come to Ignite and get half off dessert.”’ 
The app uses the Apple technology iBeacon, an indoor proximity system on all iPhones starting with the 4S model. Eventually, it will be available on Androids too. 
Von Wallenstein made sure to do his research before starting out. He spoke with merchants from about 30 local businesses, from coffee shops and sports arenas to nail salons and bars, to ask them one question: What keeps you up at night?
“What they want is deeper and stronger relationships with customers, and they want to find new people who want to find them,” he said. “And consumers want value, they want something that delights them. That’s the core of Adored.” 
On Oct. 23, Adored soft-launched at Cafe La Reine. Von Wallenstein and two employees set up camp in the store. Customers lined up to receive the advertised free cup of coffee and get help installing the app. 
At Cafe La Reine, every time a customer with the app comes in, Adored recognizes them and punches a virtual coffee card. Out of everyone who came into the store, about 30 percent had the right technology and were interested in installing it, von Wallenstein said. 
“I would want something that is easy for my customers to use, that would allow me to promote certain things to people who do come in often,” said Cafe La Reine owner Alex Puglisi, who expects more elements of the business to go digital. “I’m really glad my customers are all about it.”
At the cafe, a small, battery-powered iBeacon port that looks like a little blue stone has been placed on a shelf. It  sends out low-power Bluetooth signals to phones within range of the signal.  
When Adored launched at the Palace Theatre on Oct. 25, 49 guests chose to install it. Each received a message via the app on Sunday morning treating them to a buy-one-get-one promotion for All Shook Up. 
“Our hopes are to generate more frequency of people getting into the theater,” said Jennifer Graham, marketing coordinator for the Palace Theatre, “I’m excited for it. It’s just the beginning, and we’ll come up with different messaging.”
Palace President and CEO Peter Ramsey said that as a nonprofit, the Palace partners with more than 100 businesses, and testing out Adored is another way to support local startups. 
“If [von Wallenstein] is successful he’s going to employ people — he’s already employing people, [and] our community is better. … It’s a small state, and if you can help someone else out I think it’s something we have an obligation to do,” Ramsey said. 
Adored is piloting only with a handful of businesses because it is a completely “curated experience,” von Wallenstein said. The challenge is to make sure the app successfully pairs businesses together — it wouldn’t make sense, for example, to offer discounts on a haircut to someone who just saw a Palace Theatre production. 
“It’s not going to be a free-for-all,” he said. “Everything is curated. Everything is really carefully paired together. Everything that we say, everything that we do has to make that connection between the consumer and the merchant that much stronger and better. It’ll be selective.”
For now everything about the app is completely free for businesses and consumers, but eventually there may be some kind of paid-for model for businesses to get involved. 
The iBeacon technology has been used for customer experience before, but not in a way that allows businesses to interact, von Wallenstein said. At Macy’s, customers can get an immersive shopping experience: if they stand near the jewelry or the shoes, they can learn about the products. Major League Baseball uses it to upsell better seats to customers as they walk into the stadiums. 
“The challenge is you only can use the Macy’s or Major League Baseball iBeacon app with those places,” von Wallenstein said. “Our experience is as we deploy Adored with different merchants, it works at all these places.”
While the pilot is being launched in Manchester, once the creators of Adored are convinced they are delivering value to merchants and consumers, the app will start to expand. 
“My call to action would be to come out and support [local businesses],” von Wallenstein said. “Let’s do everything we can to make our community as successful as possible.”  
 
As seen in the November 6, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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