Punchd has a noble aim: to create space in our wallets and on merchant countertops by sending the punch cards we have been perforating for the last twenty years the way of the buggy whip. Now, the product is still in beta and they are working out a few of the kinks. Since I was curious to see if they had soft launched in Portland, I downloaded the app for my Android. Before the app would launch, it told me I have to have my GPS turned on. As anyone who has used Google Navigation knows, enabling GPS services will drain your battery life in a big hurry. The equivalent of going from sipping a beer to shotgunning one. Hopefully they can work this part out and only require the user to run Google Location services.
With GPS on I was able to launch the app. I didn’t immediately recognize the names of any of the ‘nearby’ merchants, but could tell from the address that Spaghetti al Ragu (SAR) was located in the cart pod one block from my office. Though a frequent visitor to this cart pod, I had never been to SAR. When I arrived at about 3 pm, I was fortunate to have a moment with SAR’s owner, Jeremy, to discuss his early experience with Punchd. I asked him how he started and he mentioned the name of a representative from Google. (As a sidebar, how cool is it that Jeremy is going business directly with Google! ) My guess is its the same rep that is promoting Google Offers here in Portland, which is one of the pilot markets for the daily deal service.
He said so far, one guy scanned the QR code (on the POP materials supplied by Google) to download the app but that his order was up before the app finished downloading. Beyond that, he didn’t have a lot of empirical data.
Assuming you have the app locked and loaded, here is how it works: the purchase is credited to your account by using your smartphone to scan a custom QR code provided by Punchd that Jeremy keeps behind the counter. And if this step combined with GPS triangulation weren’t enough to prevent fraud, Jeremy says he is ‘pretty good with faces.’
His food looked pretty good too, so I promised him I’d be back in the next few days to do a trial run of Punchd for real.
And he thanked me, because like most food cart proprietors, he could use the business. Despite being acquired by Google.