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Several Twin Cities Companies Go Digital With Rewards

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- It gets its name because it's supposed to be a belly full of savings.

"Belly" is new technology that's digitized the loyalty rewards program for stores across the country. Now shoppers in the Twin Cities can cash in.

Next time you're at your favorite business, see if you notice an iPad propped up at the checkout.

"We used to use a stamp card. Fifteen stamps and you get a free drink," said Nick Nguyen, owner of the Tea Garden.

Some local spots are going paperless and opting to use a digital rewards program.

"As you can guess, that wasted a lot of paper and people often would lose their cards," Nguyen said.

That iPad hosts Belly: A digital rewards program that stores your points using your email address and what looks like a credit card, and any business can opt in.

It seems like every restaurant or store has a rewards program, which leaves you with a wallet full of coupons.

"I always have a huge purse and they fall to the bottom," said customer Grace Schmid.

So instead, there's now one card that allows you to go to a number of different places.

Clothing boutique Covered Uptown just joined this week after considering a rewards program for years, but hadn't because of time and cost.

"It just seemed to be too much.  We're so busy all of the time, it was figuring a way to take it on.  We were concerned about overhead and trying to get it started," said Bridget O'Brien with Covered Uptown.

Now the free program has allowed them to fire up the rewards. Another benefit? Local companies can keep track of their customers' activity.

"The physical stamps were hard to keep track of.  You had no idea how many were out there and how often were using or redeeming them," Nguyen said.

Belly is helping local business get customers coming in the door.

"Keeping them coming back, that's the best way to do it when you're a small business," O'Brien said. "It's a great way of saying thanks."

Don't worry if you lose your card, you can still get the savings. There's a smartphone app that stores your information so you can use that to track your points.

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