Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Tuesday

May 14, 2013

App brings perks to merchants

TRAVERSE CITY — Joe Walker has been a techie for more than 20 years, but it was a weekend of “X-Boxing” and a love of northern Michigan that sparked the start of Ozmott.

A patent-pending interactive mobile application, it uses smartphone technology to promote traditional retail shopping with discounts and rewards for users and merchants. Based in Traverse City, it provides subscribers with discounts at nearby brick and mortar stores.

To use it, a member checks into Ozmott via smartphone, which then uses GPS technology to locate participating merchants and virtual discount offers. The discounts are then redeemed at the cash register, while sales and similar offers are simultaneously shared with friends.

After a sale, the buyer is awarded “Pips,” a loyalty virtual currency. If friends also use discounts, additional Pips are accrued. The Pips can accumulate or be traded for “Luxe offers,” which unlock premium discounts.

“I’m an avid Foursquare user and thought, ‘Why can’t I combine Foursquare with Groupon?’” said Ozmott president and co-founder Joe Walker. “And after playing with a new X-box and accumulating (many) experience points, I thought it would be nice to redeem them for real world value … together, that’s the genesis of Ozmott.”

Foursquare is a free social networking app in which users check in and let friends know where they are while collecting points that lead to coupons. Groupon is a popular deal-of-the-day recommendation service.

Unlike other mobile shopping applications like Groupon, with Otzmott, merchants are rewarded with a micro-commission on sales as well as a real-time marketing and metrics channel. The program’s use of game thinking and mechanics adds a fun element, while social networking incentives build community and loyalty.

Ozmott currently has 9,000 members, primarily in the Midwest, including the northern portions of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio as well as Michigan. Walker projects Ozmott will have 20,000 users by late August and 150,000 to 200,000 by year’s end.

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