Stephen Dodge wants you to feel like a regular anywhere you shop or travel. As the founder of Richmond based startup Regulr, Dodge has created a platform to help brick and mortar retailers create better in-store experiences by remembering customers and their personal preferences. Designed as a tool for local businesses, Regulr gives retailers the ability to identify repeat customers by name as soon as they walk in the door and instantly know their likes or dislikes, past purchases, preferences, or even rewards points.
Dodge says that customers today are seeking personalized experiences and exclusive offerings that reflect their preferences and shopping data. “E-commerce knows who you are when you visit a website or app, that’s how they log you in automatically, remember your preferred payment method, show relevant ads to you, and suggest products. With Regulr we level the playing field by giving brick and mortar the capabilities e-commerce has via our POS service integration for businesses and our customer-facing mobile app for shoppers.”
Regulr knows that in today’s retail market, online retailers often have the upper hand because of their ability to track shopping behaviors and serve up personalized offers to shoppers no matter where the customer browses on the internet. As a result, physical stores are forced to find new ways to keep pace with customer expectations while making real-life shopping experiences as enjoyable as possible.
“The core problems today are that each brick and mortar retailer tries to offer their own mobile app or loyalty program and that’s a big burden for customers as they have to repeatedly sign up or retell their story in order to receive any benefits or personalization,” says Dodge. “Brick and mortar has no way to leverage what data they do have on their customers in real-time at the door when that specific customer walks in.”
Regulr aims to layer itself on top of existing point of sale (POS) hardware and software as a value-added service offering which can connect retailers in a community rather than limit and segment them into the silos they exist in today. To solve this problem, Dodge drew from his past experiences working his way through Virginia Commonwealth University as a full-time sales associate at Nordstrom, a brand globally known for its exceptional customer service.
Early adopters during the pilot phase of Regulr have included River City Roll, Quirk Hotel, Tang & Biscuit, King of Pops, Väsen Brewing Co., Shockoe Atelier, Trend, Ironclad Coffee Roasters, Sky Zone, and The Circuit Arcade. Customers simply download the Regulr app and when they visit these local hot spots they’re immediately recognized by employees and welcomed by name thanks to a Bluetooth beacon placed near the entrance of each business.
“Customers, our mobile app users, can pick the locations where they want to be recognized,” says Dodge. “This is completely in their control as we want them to finally have control and influence over their personal data and experiences; no data is shared or sent if the user has not enabled a location.”
Regulr has learned and gathered feedback from its pilot and is now building the next iteration of its mobile app and business service line as it works to create asolution that aggregates rewards, personal data, and offerings into one seamless channel. In addition, Regulr is working with VCU Innovation Gateway to integrate a patented location-aware technology invented by VCU professor Wei Cheng into its POS service and mobile app. The patented technology will let smartphones or other internet-connected devices with the Regulr app installed, communicate and relay messages between each other to accurately determine a user’s location without relying on a GPS signal, bluetooth beacons, or Wi-Fi connection. This technology will ultimately eliminate the need for Regulr to setup any hardware, such as Bluetooth beacons or Wi-Fi access points, in the future. Regulr plans to reward users for participating and joining Regulr in the future with exclusive deals and offerings.
Jamie Frieling, the marketing director at Väsen Brewing, says that the main appeal for using Regulr in the brewery setting is the ability to engage more with guests visiting their tasting room. “We strive to craft experiences for our customers that inspire them to keep coming back to our tasting room. Regulr allows us to have access to a tool that our bartenders can take note of customer beer preference and favorite styles to assist us in the future to create a more meaningful experience for everyone.”