Stellenbucks: kickstarting a community economy
Chris14 Oct, 2020
For an established app like SnapScan, new feature requests are dime a dozen. We try our best to keep our ears close to the ground and carefully evaluate requests from our loyal customers. Where possible, we try to make them a reality.
In theory, our Product Development Cycle is a rigorous process and goes something like this:
All-in-all this process lasts a few months to ensure a quality product is released to everyone with the SnapScan app on their phone. Well, that is the theory, and definitely did not apply during the Stellenbucks project.
The Stellenbucks project:
One late afternoon in August I received a call from an enthused Jeanneret Momberg, CEO of Visit Stellenbosch, “We’ve raised R1.5m which we want to disburse to SnapScan users to spend at Stellenbosch restaurants. Can you provide the earning and redemption tech for this initiative?” My answer, “Sure, I don’t see why not.”
The decision to commit to this project without any concern for our normal Product Development Cycle is rooted in the deep historic partnership between SnapScan and the restaurants and eateries were some of the first to adopt our unknown and foreign concept of QR codes and mobile payments back in 2013. These businesses, many of which are in Stellenbosch, helped bring us into existence and were now in need of our help. Assisting them during this time was a matter of principle and a sign of appreciation from the SnapScan team.
The Visit Stellenbosch team had raised funds from local businesses with the objective to stimulate activity in the local tourism and hospitality sector after nearly 6 months of COVID-19 lockdown. SnapScan users would earn Stellenbucks based on what they spent at a wide range of Stellenbosch businesses. The Stellenbucks would be redeemable at other businesses in the network, thus driving revenue into the economy to benefit businesses and their employees.
SnapScan was well poised to provide the Visit Stellenbosch team with a solution to achieve their objective. All we had to do now was have a close look at our toolbox of features and figure out how we could combine and refine them to have something ready in two weeks.
It is worth noting that although we had basic cashback functionality, the Visit Stellenbosch requirements were very technical. Stellenbucks could only be earned at specific merchants and spent at others. The earning mechanics also had various formulas to gamify the experience for users. These ranged from a minimum spend, to maximum earnings per transaction, as well as the expiry of Stellenbucks.
We rolled up our sleeves and leaned on some wisdom from the famous Mark Zuckerberg quote, “Move fast and break things”. However, when your company is entrusted with moving billions of rands in payments each year, there is simply no acceptable margin for error, so we applied some creative licence and settled for: Move fast and make damn sure we don’t break anything.
After 2 intense weeks of late-night development, we were ready for launch. The success now hinged on the Visit Stellenbosch and SnapScan Marketing teams to execute a well-choreographed marketing and activation campaign.
We went live with the tech in the SnapScan app and waited. Transactions started pouring in; social media posts filled Instagram and Twitter; TV and radio news reports hailed the initiative as innovative. The feeling of relief, of hard work being validated by the acceptance of our most valued critics, the SnapFam, was incredibly rewarding. We had achieved what we had set out to do.
The Visit Stellenbosch initiative serves as a valuable reminder that there are few motivating factors quite as powerful as a community uniting behind a common cause. The ability to appeal to an ecosystem of SnapScan users in a town to unite around an initiative that benefits their friends, families, colleagues, businesses, employees and employers is what ensured the success of the Stellenbucks concept well before we had ever written a single line of code.
I would like to extend our heartfelt appreciation to all our loyal SnapScan merchants and users for participating; without you this initiative would not have been possible.
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