Interview with Francesco Ciciriello, CEO of b-more
June 20, 2022
Interview with Francesco Ciciriello, CEO of b-more, the startup that will help you get your customers back and communicate with them.
When the company is still small you have time to solve most of the problems and work with all the energy to transform the product or service you sell into the best things you can offer. But especially when the product is good and the company well organized, there always comes a time when you need to expand and thrive your business. At this point you may be wondering how to retain your customers and get more visibility of your online showcase. The answer is simple and it’s called b-more!
b-more is the innovative marketing platform of local commerce, which helps to bring back and communicate with your customers. B-more, through its loyalty program, will allow you to return your customers more frequently, increasing your store’s profits by up to 18%. All using the Health Card as a card points! The b-more loyalty network is designed to network local stores and introduce you to new customers thanks to its double-point system.
Thanks to the platform, you can also save a lot of time by sending messages with templates already set, communicating to customers events, specific promotions or the arrival of new products and services.
To learn more about the theme, we interviewed Francesco Ciciriello, CEO of b-more.
Hello Francesco, thank you so much for this opportunity. It is really a pleasure to meet you. Tell us something more about b-more. How and when was the idea born?
My family owns some small businesses and from their experience I had learned how difficult it was to work on existing customers, pushing small traders to prefer the search for new customers.
The idea was born in its first form in 2016, when in yet another neighborhood store they asked me if I had their loyalty card. But it was not possible to have loyalty cards for every store where you bought, for the consumer this was a problem! Dozens of cards that were forgotten at home and that led to make vain any initiative of loyalty by shopkeepers. Hence the idea of using a card that every Italian already has in his wallet, the health card.
The first pilot test took place in 2018 with an extremely basic version, which allowed us to understand the needs of traders and consumers. The idea was already to network small neighborhood stores within a loyalty network, to help them collaborate with each other.
Only in 2020 Mikhail and I (my partner) decided to proceed with the establishment of the company and to start the development of the platform basing all on the indications and tricks obtained with the test of 2018.
How did you launch your startup? Did you use crowdfunding campaigns?
The launch of the startup was rather complicated. Less than a week after the establishment, the first Italian lockdown was imposed in the Lombardy region, which would last for the next three months. Our potential clients were blocked and we had no way of working. The economic crisis of covid19 continued until the end of 2021, leading traders to prefer no investment.
Despite this, with a first door-to-door campaign in the city of Milan in the summer of 2021, we acquired our first paying customers with whom we were able to carry out a first market test.
Almost 1 year later, we have obtained encouraging data on the use of the system by consumers, appreciating an increase in return of customers in affiliated stores and a constantly increasing number of subscribers.
As a startup we preferred to initially invest internal resources and our energies to develop the platform, always working in bootstrap to date. For the next step of business development we are considering various options, but crowdfunding is not part of our plans to date.
How does the b-more loyalty program work?
The b-more loyalty program was created to encourage people to shop at local businesses and differs from existing ones for 3 main reasons:
It develops as a network of shops that work and collaborate together through the platform developed;
– It has a double point system that allows the coexistence of a vertical loyalty program for the single affiliate store and one open to the whole network;
– Use both a scanned QR code card and an existing physical card to identify the customer.
The strong point of b-more is precisely the double system of points that can be accumulated by consumers in the various shops participating in the loyalty network. Points are divided into activity points and b-more points and, upon reaching the required threshold, allow customers to obtain different types of rewards and benefits made available by retailers.
The double-point setting allows registered b-more merchants to retain existing customers, but also to increase the chances of acquiring new customers within the subscriber network.
Another important point on which we have invested is the simplicity of use for the end consumer.
Once the customer has entered a participating store, he can scan a custom QR code at the checkout, which identifies the store, and sign up independently and request the debiting of points following a transaction. All without having to force customers to install an application on their smartphone.
Can B-more also be defined as an important marketing automation tool?
Absolutely yes! b-more is not only a loyalty program, but also a powerful marketing automation tool for neighborhood stores.
Thanks to b-more you can collect the contact list of your customers and use it later to send automated communications set by our system.
The merchant will no longer have to worry about sending messages or emails to its customers, just set up during onboarding a series of dynamics and the rest will b-more, lightening the workload of the merchant.
Our platform allows the sending of two types of communications: those automated, which depending on the data input from the merchant and the consumer, will be sent by the platform independently and those customized, that will allow the merchant to send newsletters to their target customers.
Goals for the future?
The upcoming b-more goals are quite ambitious, like probably those of any startup.
Now that the emergency covid19 is back, we can start the actual marketing of the service in the city of Milan, so as to have a strong base and create a real network effect.
In parallel, we want to create a community of merchants who can advise on the use of b-more and allow themselves to guide the development process of further functions over time. To do all this, we need to expand the development and marketing team, maybe even through a first round of investment.
Curiosity: how did the idea of using the familiar Health Card as a collection card come about?
As I said at the beginning, it was a period that buying in stores asked me to give my loyalty card, which I always lost or forgot. One day I went to my local hairdresser and he asked me: “Francesco, do you have a points card with you?”. Without thinking about it, I take a card out of my wallet and give it to him thinking it was the correct one and instead I hear myself saying: “This is the health card”.
Coming out of my hairdresser I thought that it could be the solution to the forgetfulness of many like me. Then I realized that the same application would be possible in every country that had an ID card printed on the back with a simple barcode and could help to build a loyalty network.
In Italy, in fact, the health card is owned by 60 million Italians of all ages and allows you to overcome the hurdle of each loyalty system, that of putting in the pockets of their customers a new paper card.