“As a startup, you have to fish where the fish are.” This is how Zach Goldstein and his startup ‘Thanx’ work. The basic idea is that an app tracking all your loyalty programs can run in the background, saving you money when you buy something without ever needing to be opened.
Zach founded Thanx in 2011 with the goal of helping merchants identify, reward and retain their best customers and die-hard fans. He first developed this perspective while working at Bain & Co., where he saw leading retail and technology companies struggling to generate repeat business. All conceptually understood that the top 20% of customers drive 80% of profits, but none could connect with these high-value individuals. Zach also noted that consumers wanted an improved shopping experience, where their favorite brands didn’t ask them to carry plastic cards or go through numerous steps at checkout.
By eliminating point-of-sale integrations, and integrating directly into customers’ preferred method of payment, Thanx provides merchants the real-time data they need to make sure loyal customers receive the experience they deserve — and make the entire process effortless. Thanx is now in the app-building business. Early customers include West Coast baker SusieCakes, fashion boutique chain 2nd Time Around and Chicago pizza chain Lou Malnati’s. The 45-year-old pizza company wanted a better tool to track its customers than their present card-based program it was using across its 45 locations. Thanx offered that through an app that also could provide mobile ordering.
“The industry is demanding it, and our customers were more and more,” says marketing manager Meggie Lindberg. “Once we realized we could kill two birds with one stone through Thanx, that was the selling point.”
Because Thanx connects to a customer’s credit card, when they sign up, the system registers the purchase without any effort by the user. At Malnati’s spending $250 gets $20 off a future purchase. At coffee shops, it can be half a dozen or ten coffees to get one free. Thanx tells the user by push notification, either from the brand’s own app or Thanx’s central one.
The ideal Thanx customer is not the type of business typically pursued by Silicon Valley: bowling alleys, car washes, and restaurants. For many of those businesses, a branded app wouldn’t make sense. In that case, Thanx is happy to handle the process on its own, aggregating all the deals. The company charges $149 to $349 per location per month (an app is in the top tier). Those contracts add up annually to recurring revenue in the hundreds of thousands for larger customers.
App fatigue is “rampant” among smartphone users. But customer loyalty programs remain one of the best ways to drive interest. And Thanx is tapping exactly this.