Bridg Positions Itself as Marketing Arm for Offline Businesses

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Without access to the same technologies being used by e-commerce giants like Amazon, many brick-and-mortar businesses struggle to track and market to their customers in a way that generates additional sales. A startup called Bridg is looking to change that by launching a platform designed to help restaurants and retailers connect with “previously invisible” customers.

When it launches commercially this fall, the Bridg Customer Data Platform will take point-of-sale transaction data and combine it with loyalty and ordering data to create individual, unified customer profiles. Businesses will then have the opportunity to augment these profiles with social media and other marketable identities, allowing them to engage previously unreachable guests.

“Brick-and-mortar businesses have suffered losses due to relentless competition and market changes with the advent of e-commerce. In the simplest of terms, businesses have few opportunities to either win new customers with shrinking budgets, or draw back existing or lapsed customers at a lower cost than new acquisitions,” says Amit Jain, founder and CEO of Bridg. “We are able to find many of those frequent or lapsed customers in the ‘invisible’ category and help offline retailers and restaurants win them back or have them visit more frequently.”

Unlike other firms in the hyperlocal market, Jain says Bridg hasn’t had the need to pivot or significantly change up its offerings. Bridg was founded as a technology company that would enable smarter marketing for retail and restaurant businesses with brick-and-mortar locations, and the firm’s technology has continued to evolve within that same space.

It has taken six years for Bridg to build what Jain believes is now the broadest, deepest, and most accurate customer data platform for restaurants and other “offline” retailers. In that time, other firms have come and gone. But Jain says it’s the Bridg Bureau—a proprietary database that identifies as many as 80% of a brand’s existing customers—that differentiates his platform from others.

The Bureau adds more than 100 different data attributes to customer profiles, including basic demographics, purchase behavior, and share-of-wallet. It also makes it possible for businesses to engage more customers online by matching unknown customers from transaction data to Bureau profiles.

“We found the most opportunity to be of help in the restaurant and retail sectors,” Jain says. “Industry sentiment in both sectors continues to point to the Amazons of the world crushing those who are not technologically savvy or well-funded enough to compete. We think we can be a catalyst to those offline businesses looking to grow in today’s on-demand, online world.”

Bridg’s goal of identifying as many as 80% of a brand’s existing customers stands in stark contrast to traditionally loyalty program enrollment figures. Jain says most restaurant and retailers profile customers by relying on loyalty programs that capture just 15% to 20% of existing customers. He also boasts that competing platforms aren’t able to connect customer profiles with point-of-sale transaction data for as large of a cross-section of the guest database as Bridg can.

“Given that most brick-and-mortar operators currently compete on single-digit margins, Bridg believes the introduction of the platform to be a potential game-changer,” he says.

Because customer data platforms are still a new concept within the restaurant and retail sectors, Jain says there’s a lot of talk and confusion about what they can and cannot do. Much of what Bridg is doing now is educating businesses owners about what they can expect from this type of platform.

“We believe we are well positioned to be the digital marketing arm for brick-and-mortar retailers and restaurant operators,” he says. “While there are a lot of players in the space promising services that can help draw in new customers and bring back lapsed customers, we have spent more than six years developing a differentiated solution that really does reach those ‘unreachable’ customers.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.