A comparison between Belly and RewardMe – by the stats

RewardMe vs Belly Data-driven comparison by the numbers

Andreeson Horowitz recently invested $10 million into loyalty startup Belly.  I’d like to start off by congratulating the Belly team on their Series B – we wish you good luck in reaching Groupon-like scale.

This recent news warrants a fair and honest comparison between Belly and RewardMe.  We welcome the founders of Belly to write their responses in the comments section at the end of this post to continue the discussion.

Comparison snapshot: this post will compare Belly and RewardMe in the following 6 important customer loyalty program topics

  1. Customer sign-up rate: how many new customers sign-up to the program
  2. Participation rate: the number of check-ins to the rewards program
  3. Return on investment: measurable ROI that is backed by data
  4. Reward structure and customization: the ability for the business to customize rewards
  5. Data capture: the type of data that is collected from consumers
  6. Ease of use: ease of use for the business and the consumers

Customer Sign-up Rate


According to the article by CNET, Belly has achieved the following numbers:

Note: date range of August 2011 – April 2012 (270 days)

  1. 1,400 locations
  2. 200,000 users

Lets analyze the data to get numbers that are useful to a merchant:

Users per location: on average, there are 143 users per location

New users per day: on average, 741 new users sign up per day

New users per location per day: on average, there are .53 new users per location per day


For the comparison, we will use the numbers generated from our fast casual restaurant client located in Texas with 16 locations:

Note: date range from December 2011 – April 2012 (150 days)

  1. Franchise with 16 locations using RewardMe
  2. 39,008 users

Lets do the same analysis that we did for Belly above:

Users per location: on average, we have 2,438 users per location

New users per day: on average, 260 new users sign up per day

New users per location per day: on average, we have 16.25 new users per location per day


RewardMe has 31x the customer sign-up rate as Belly: 16.25 new users per location per day vs .53 new users per location per day

Participation Rate


According to the article by Tech Crunch, Belly has achieved the following numbers:

Note: date range of August 2011 – April 2012 (270 days)

  1. 200,000 users
  2. 800,000 check-ins
Check-ins per day: on average, there are 2,963 check-ins per day
Check-ins per location per day: on average, there are 2.12 check-ins per location per day


For the comparison, we will again use the numbers generated from our fast casual restaurant client located in Texas with 16 locations:

Note: date range from December 2011 – April 2012 (150 days)

  1. 39,008 users
  2. 81,410 check-ins

Check-ins per day: on average, we have 543 check-ins per day

Check-ins per location per day: on average, we have 33.92 check-ins per location per day


RewardMe has 16x the customer check-in rate as Belly: 33.92 check-ins per day vs 2.12 checkins per day

Return on Investment


Unfortunately the CNET article did not mention anything about ROI for Belly merchants.  I encourage the Belly team to post their ROI numbers as a follow up to this post for a fair comparison.


The following numbers are for our fast casual franchise client.

  1. Participation rate: 20.2% of all customers use RewardMe
  2. We capture the RIGHT customers: RewardMe members spend 24.8% more than non-RewardMe members
    • Note: this population selection effect should not be confused with revenue lift, which is detailed below
  3. Revenue lift for RewardMe members: a revenue lift of 5.7% is directly attributed to gamification (lift % is a statistically sound calculation independent of the effects of population selection and random environmental factors)

Most importantly, a recent case study of a client revealed that because RewardMe captures 20.2% of customers, RewardMe has generated a 2% bottom-line revenue increase for our client over a 7-month period.


If a rewards program cannot prove a statistically sound measurement for ROI, then there is no proof that the rewards program benefits its clients.  We’d like to see Belly demonstrate measurable ROI for its clients.

Reward Structure and Customization


Belly rewards points based on visits.


RewardMe rewards points based on dollars spent or visits


A merchant can use RewardMe to fully customize their rewards program and ensure that their best customers get the best rewards.  For example, a customer that buys a soft drink can receive 10 points, while a customer that buys an entire burger meal can receive 100 points.

On the other hand, merchants are severely limited with Belly.  A customer that buys a soft drink will receive as many points as a customer that buys an entire burger meal.

Because Belly is limited to a visit-based rewards program, RewardMe has a far superior, more customizable rewards program.

Data Capture


Belly does not capture point of sale data; therefore, Belly does not know how much money was spent or what was purchased.

Belly does capture the following data points via their mobile application:

  1. Email


RewardMe has a patent-pending technology that allows us to capture important point of sale data:

  1. Dollars spent
  2. Items purchased
  3. Timestamp

The unique identifier for a customer is their mobile number.  A customer can choose to opt-into the merchant’s text club at sign-up.

RewardMe always captures mobile number, and captures email through a follow up text.


A merchant can use RewardMe for deep, BIG DATA analysis of customer purchase patterns and behaviors.  Merchants of all sizes, from the mom and pop shop on the corner to the largest restaurants and retailers, can capture, analyze and develop actionable, targeted marketing based on information including but not limited to:

  • Customer specific data
  • Which customers have spent more than $100 in the past 30 days
  • Which customers make purchases on weekdays vs weekends
  • Which customers love burgers vs salads
  • Demographic data
    • Average age of customers
    • Average income level of customers
    • Location distribution of customers
  • Targeting data
    • Which customers buy salads but not pizza
    • Which customers haven’t returned in the past 30 days
    RewardMe can utilize the full power of big data: using RewardMe, merchants can send a customized message only to customers that have purchased a salad and NOT a burger in the past 30 days.  Or, merchants can send a customized message only to customers that shop on the weekdays AND have bought a slice of pizza in the past 7 days.
    On the other hand, a merchant knows extremely little about their customers when they use Belly.  The only information that a merchant has about a customer is when and how often the customer comes in.
    They do collect the email address of every customer that signs up, but because belly has an extremely low sign-up rate, the merchant ultimately captures very few customer email addresses.

    Ease of use


    Check out the video case study for a yogurt shop

    Process for tech-savvy customers:

    1. Download Belly App
    2. Open Belly App on phone
    3. Scan code on the iPad 2

    Process for non-tech-savvy customers:

    1. Grab a Belly card
    2. Sign up card online
    3. Remember to bring the card with you every where that you go
    4. Scan card on the iPad 2 screen

    Process for merchants:

    1. Promote Belly to its customers
    2. Call Belly when they run out of Belly Cards to replenish cards


    Check out our video case study for a yogurt shop

    Process for ALL customers:

    1. Punch in mobile number on the iPad screen

    Process for merchants:

    1. Promote their own branded rewards program (watch how in the video, Fraiche promotes the Fraiche Rewards Program and not RewardMe)


    RewardMe is easy for ALL customers to use – no phone, no mobile apps to download, no QR codes to scan.  Every customer is accustomed to punching in their mobile number at the grocery store during checkout.  Because they’re already accustomed to this behavior, it’s extremely easy for every customer to sign up to RewardMe.  This is why we have 20.2% sign-up conversion rate for customers.

    Belly on the other hand is cumbersome to use.  Customers must download a mobile app in the store (often while in line), open the app, and scan it on the iPad 2.  If the customer isn’t tech savvy, then they have to carry around another loyalty card, which completely defeats the purpose of using technology to eliminate the need to carry around a loyalty card.

    The proof is in the numbers.  RewardMe is easy to use while Belly is a hassle to use – that is why we sign up 31x more customers per location than Belly.

    Final thoughts

    Belly is a technology company focused on providing consumers with a universal rewards program.  To satisfy consumers, Belly signs up merchants to their rewards program.  In this way, a consumer is signing up for Belly specifically as opposed to a merchant’s branded rewards program.

    On the other hand, RewardMe is a technology company focused on providing merchants with a platform to better understand and engage with customers.  To satisfy merchants, RewardMe makes it very easy for merchants to sign up customers into their rewards program.  This is why our solution is customized to fit the merchant’s brand.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts about the comparison and to receiving a reply from the Belly team.

    25 thoughts on “A comparison between Belly and RewardMe – by the stats

    1. Joni

      The information and statistics presented above are highly misleading. Very poorly written article and anyone who can add or do 3rd grade statistics can clearly see that Belly has a much broader reach and many more locations and customers and is a significantly better deal.

      Unless you each fast food in Texas, RewardMe’s program is as useless as the information presented in this article.

      1. DarrenF

        I disagree with the initial posters comment. Belly may have more locations (at the moment), but you also have to consider the quality of the product. We’ve talked with belly in the past and they are like all the other solutions out there; they are ‘visually’ appealing, but that is about it. There is NOTHING robust about it. If you want to get technical, I asked them what was to prevent someone to walk in to my store and just ‘check-in’, and they said nothing. They said I can put it near my register to ‘deter’ people…really? I have to guard my reward program now to watch for people who want to take advantage of it? No thanks.

        1. Yu-kai Chou

          Thanks Darren for sharing your experience. Cheating prevention (from both customers AND employees!) is something that our customers think about a lot, and since we tie directly into the POS, points can’t be awarded unless someone actually made a purchase. RewardMe is continuing to learn what the customer wants and hoping to really serve the needs of the market.

    2. Yu-kai Chou


      The case study here only refers to one client example that is based in Texas, but for example, the case video is a customer in California. Belly is in 6 cities and expanding to 8, but that doesn’t mean their info is “worthless” if you don’t live in those cities. This article is talking about the value it creates for merchants (ROI, Adoption Rate, Revenue Lift, Data Collected), so of course it’s not “useful” for people eating fast food somewhere.

      The only demonstration point is that, if you are a merchant that wants a system that can prove exactly what the ROI is through stronger adoption and business intelligence, you may consider going with RewardMe. After all, merchants don’t care about how many stores also use Belly. They care about how much money Belly can make for their own stores.

    3. Vasily Dyachenko

      Hi Yu-kai.

      I’m from LoyaltyPlant startup (Russia, Europe, loyaltyplant.com)
      LoyaltyPlant, RewardMe and Belly are solving the same problem for businesses – aquiring loyal customers and working with them properly.

      As guys in Belly, we’ve decided not to work with nation-wide restaurant chains and concentrate on providing a personal loyalty solution for hundreds of small businesses.
      You’ve noticed that one of the main advantages of RewardMe is that you could show some good ROI numbers from you current customers like Mooyah.
      As we discovered here in Russia and Europe, small businesses don’t actually care about ROI so much. In small restaurans, desicion maker is the director of the restaurant, and he is agreed to pay for service not because he sees good ROI. He is agreed to pay for service (like Belly and LoyaltyPlant) because he sees that it just works inside his restaurant.
      Obviously, when you work with big guys like Mooyah, they have dedicated marketing department, which counts ROI for every dollar spent. But that’s just not the case with Belly.
      Therefore, i think that agrument about ROI is not so important.

      Also, I crealry understand why Belly is more attractive for investors right now and why they get 10M, not your team.
      That’s because they sales strategy is more predictable, scalable and less risky.
      When you are aquiring 1 restaurant chain, they aquire 100 small restaurants.
      For RewardMe negotiation process with new customers could last more than a year.
      For Belly (and LoyaltyPlant) , negotiation process with new customers is more likely to last no more than 10 minutes.

      I wish you good luck and I hope you will get your next round of investment soon =)

      P.S. Really love your blog!

    4. Yu-kai Chou

      Hey Vasily,

      Thanks for your insights. I agree with your assessment on many things (very fair indeed!).

      I agree that small mom and pop shops may not think in terms of ROI as much (that’s why we also use user adoption rate as a user metric, and small store owners probably will notice a difference when half their customers are using this service everyday), but also because of that, they’re not willing to pay much for the service (people have to give them free iPads and charge very little). When we can prove an ROI, we show that we can help customers make 10x more money than they pay, we can charge a lot more for the customer and also have them pay for hardware.

      On the other hand, I also agree that the sales model to small shops are more predictable, but at a HUGE acquisition cost of hiring a lot of foot soliders (why copycats in other cities hire their own foot soliders there). I also don’t think the sales there is 10 min 😉 Especially if the store is paying, it often requires multiple visits (“Can you come in at a better time?” “Sounds interesting. I need to discuss with my Partner” “Hmm, we need some time to figure out what kind of rewards we need to give” etc). The big chain strategy is slower at the beginning (yes… unfortunately takes a while), but when we are talking to many at the same time, at one point many get converted at once. Plus, chain stores are slow adopters but fast followers, so we see that once a few chain uses a solution, other chains quickly want to use it too. We think this is where true consolidation in the industry will come from.

      Thanks for the kind support Vasily, and I wish you successful for your startup too!

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    10. Ricardo

      I think this comparison is not fair and it’s clear that it’s biased….it’s not apples to apples….the biz case it’s different and the value prop for both customers and merchants it’s a little bit different.

    11. Jay

      The comparison is skewed and biased. You’re taking a single, clearly successful case with RewardMe and stacking that against Belly across all their users and locations for a certain period.

      If you want to make a fair case for RewardMe, take the numbers for ALL of your locations and users during the same August 2011 – April 2012 period that you’re using for Belly.

      I suspect the numbers won’t look as good for RewardMe then, or else you would have done that.

    12. Benjamin

      I am curious to know how you integrate with POS, there are so many of them out there… I have a micros at one of my locations and would like someone to email me about the technical aspect of tying the program into my POS and how reward me distributes points instead of just tracking visits like belly and other programs.

    13. Rex

      The question raised regarding how to intergrate rewards programs into a specific point-of-sale (POS) system is very important. Using Micros as one example, they are the leader in the hospitality POS industry. Micros is also uses highly proprietary hardware and software which makes it very difficult to obtain integration without paying Micros. Many other POS manufacturers are simular. When we consider electronic cash registers (ECR) one must realize there are many more small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) over-all who still use ECRs. There are a considerable number of obsticles to overcome when you want to grab transaction details from a POS/ECR system and attach it to a third-party reward/loyality marketing program.

      Just my 2 cents worth… with the rate of inflation, that is now about “a dollar two ninty-eight”! :)

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    18. Michael tadlock

      You have some info wrong on bellycard. You do not have to be tech savvy. You can pick a card up and scan, check in using only your email address, Or you can use a smart phone to scan with the app. There are Multiple ways. Giving a phone number out is very invasive and a big turnoff for many people. Belly is also the only company we have found that has direct working relationships with Facebook, apple, google, and yelp. I can order more cards simply by pushing a button on the iPad mini (not iPad 2). The I pad is customized to my business with my logo on the ipad as well. You need to do better research. Oh and their program is less expensive for a better product with more options

    19. etsai79

      Hi Yu-Kai,

      Thanks for your in-depth analysis between Belly and ReadMe. Looking at both videos and data, I certainly do agree with you that ReadMe is certainly much easier for consumer to use, all you need to do is punching in your mobile number. 

      But do you know why and how Belly managed to obtain Series-B $10 million from Andreeson Horowitz?

      What is RewardMe’s strategy to go up head-to-head against Belly? Thanks!


    20. Yu-kai Chou

      etsai79 Hey Eddie, thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, this is an old post and since then I have stepped down as CEO of RewardMe. 2 Years after that, RewardMe did not make it due to personnel issues (despite having a kick ass product as above).
      My quick answer to your question is that fundraising is not just about product performance. Belly founders is within the family of Groupon, which means they have an instant network of investors available. Also, they adopt the “brute force distribution model” where they raise a lot of money, hire a ton of sales people, and push their products into many merchants (many merchants used to complain to us about that). We did not have that luxury to hire an army and we targeted large chain stores. We did manage to close the $1.5M customer revenue deal with a national chain store though, but it didn’t survive the personnel issues.

    21. etsai79

      Yu-kai Chou etsai79 DrEddieTsai Hello Yu-kai, Thanks for your prompt response and greatly appreciated for your explanation.

      You definitely had a kick ass product, it’s a pity that it didn’t lift off and took the market by storm.

      I looked at the Belly website and their operation using QRCode. It probably wouldn’t work well here in Asia, as the mobile network is not that fast in comparison to the States, because almost everyone is on a “all-you-can-eat” plan and the network is virtually unusable in a crowded place.

      RewardMe is a much easier way to accumulate loyalty points, as you don’t have to toss out your smartphone but simply input your mobile number (which is uniquely enough to identify an user). I think this will work well in the Asian market. 

      Have you encountered any synchronisation issue with loyalty points being accumulated at different stores within a national retailer chain? Thanks!



    22. Yu-kai Chou

      etsai79 DrEddieTsai Usually if the store has internet (even flaky ones), as long as it connects, the data syncs. The only possibility that this would work out negatively, is lets the internet in the store is bad to the point of only working 5 seconds every 5 minutes (which I would consider “unusable internet”). If the user who has accumulated many points redeems a reward at a store, and within 5 minutes rushes to another store (who also has flaky internet), gets in line, and redeems the reward again before the system syncs up, that is possible but very unlikely. And if anything, the system can then make an exception and give the user negative points after it syncs up. If the user cares about being a longterm customer at all (instead of just doing this clever trick once and running away), it wouldn’t be an issue. If it’s just about points accumulation, it generally isn’t a problem (unless some guy asks 40 people in different stores to enter the same phone number and pays money to supercharge his account in a short period of time). Hope that helps.

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