CHENNAI: Meal coupons are giving way to mobile apps and online platforms as restaurants turn to technology startups that enable them to improve their engagement with loyal customers.

Two Chennai-based startups -Clozerr and Vaffle -are trying to come up with efficient, userfriendly and relatively cheap customer-retention platforms. The platforms, which present unique offers to its users, also help the restaurants reach out to its customers in a personalised manner.

Rahul KR, CEO of Clozerr and a third-year engineering student at IIT (Madras), pointed out that most restaurants get 80% of their business from 20% of loyal customers. “But this 20% haven’t been effectively tapped till now as the restaurant owners neither knew who their customers were nor could they reward the loyal ones,“ Rahul said. Also, the technologies that were already available in the market were either expensive or complicated.

Clozerr, an app that provides information regarding the offers available at restaurants for its users based on their location, tries to bridge this gap.

The user-friendly app can get maximum details about the behavioural patterns of the customers, said Rahul. While the user can simply tap the `check-in’ option in the app and show it at the restaurant counter to redeem the offer, the restaurants are provided with a merchant panel via which they can validate it effortlessly. It also eliminates the burden of physically feeding the data from the usual punch cards and manually sending out emails or text messages.

Each time a customer checks in, the data regarding the orders gets fed in to the panel. It is analysed by the developers to find out customer trends like how many times a person has visited or what is his average spend.

“If the restaurants want to send out targeted campaigns only to a certain group ­ say, those who have visited a minimum number of times or who have spent above a certain amount ­ they can easily do it as all related data would be available on the panel,“ said Rahul.

“The best part is, now they (restaurants) know who their customers are and accordingly they can use various ways to leverage it,“ he added.

Vaffle, a startup by three young engineering graduates, Arun Venkatesh, Vikash Koushik and Siddarth Anbarasan, also has come up with a similar online platform ­ KonjamDiscount ­ which gives incremental discounts to the users who order at a restaurant via the platform. The customer can order and pay via the platform, which would then give them a unique code verified by restaurants via a dashboard provided to them.

“The discounts would have a minimum and maximum value,“ said Venkatesh, the COO.

After availing a certain number of discounts that are categorised into cycles, the customer would also become eligible for exclusive deals at the restaurant.

“Restaurants too can avail data regarding how many people have come, which customer had what kind of dish, what kind of ads bring in more people etc from the dashboard,“ Venkatesh pointed out.

“We are very happy in terms of the response via Clozerr,“ said Matangi, owner of That Madras Place, one among the clients of Clozerr. She observed that such platforms bring in a lot of brands together helping customers to find out about deals available in restaurants other than those familiar to them, thereby also helping businesses.

Clozerr, launched in November, already has 25 restaurants on board, while just a month into business, KonjamDiscount has roped in four restaurants and is in talks with more.