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A Gift for All Michigan Businesses from a Detroit Technology Company

New Loop Tool Enables Companies to Accept Donations / Sales and Connects Them to Essential Workers Needing Goods and Services

DETROIT–Metro Detroit businesses are hurting as a result of COVID-19, none more so than small businesses. That’s why Combustion, a Detroit marketing technology firm, is offering its digital gift card platform, Loop, at no cost during the economic fallout from the pandemic.

Even better, Loop connects companies with hospitals and other essential institutions seeking help. When customers buy from a company using Loop, they can donate their purchase to a hospital or other recipient of their choice. It’s a revenue model an increasing number of businesses are using to weather the coronavirus storm, and Loop makes it easy.

“Right now, companies need customers,” said Combustion co-founder and CEO Sefi Grossman. “Healthcare and other essential workers need companies. And consumers are looking for a way to help. This closes the Loop among all three.”

Here’s how it works. Businesses of any size can quickly—as in minutes—create a branded website that allows customers to easily buy digital gift cards from them, then opens a dropdown menu that gives them the option to spend that gift card on recipients of their choice, whether a specific hospital or other essential institution or a general fund. Loop also enables opt ins for further communications to customers by text or email.

Combustion client PizzaPapalis has been the first to take advantage of Loop’s new functionality, using it to power a program called The Pizza Pledge, in which the venerable Detroit brand provides a free pizza to healthcare workers for every four purchased by customers. PizzaPapalis owner and founder Joe Sheena is expanding the program by calling on all of Michigan’s pizza community to join the Pledge. In the past two weeks, he and his team have taken in dozens of donations and run hundreds of meals to healthcare workers all over metro Detroit, Ann Arbor and Toledo.

“I woke up one day at 5:00 in the morning,” said Sheena. “I was thinking about a conversation I had with my son, who is an anesthesiologist in New Orleans. He said, ‘Dad, I’m working 15-16 hours a day. I come home, exhausted, depressed, there’s nothing in the fridge.’ To me, all of these people working in healthcare right now are Gabe, my son.”

“Obviously we love that it’s being used for healthcare workers, like how PizzaPapalis is using it,” Grossman said. “But there are other essential workers that this can apply to—what about buying goods and services for grocery store workers, or the transportation industry, or just your neighbor? Anyone that wants to do anything for someone else can use this system to do that. There are other ways to use it, too. What about a company like an arcade or a bar or a sporting venue that has to put everything on hold until this summer or later? Now, they can ask consumers to essentially pay for the future using the present. They can even offer to increase the value of the gift card after this is over. For example, you buy a $20 gift card now, it’s worth $25-30 when this is over.”

As of now, more than 50 restaurants and other businesses have expressed interest, and Combustion is knocking on the doors of grocers, florists, anyone that can take advantage of the tool to weather the economic fallout of COVID-19.

“Gift Cards and customer loyalty is something we’ve been doing for quite a while, but we just felt we needed to pivot for the front line health workers in the face of what’s happening to one of our restaurant clients’ business,” said Grossman. “Building it to shift to essential service donations and offering the tool at no cost for small businesses is our effort to try to do our part in keeping the small businesses we love running, and also trying to make sure the true heroes in hospitals that will pull us through are fed without having to worry about it.”

It’s with that mission in mind that Combustion is trying to reach as many businesses as possible, and equip them with Loop, for free.

Combustion is an advanced creative marketing and technology solutions company focused on helping companies grow. Through a unique combination of marketing, technology and psychology, Combustion develops powerful, results-based solutions that obtain and retain customers, elevate their brand engagement.

Loop is a personalized marketing technology platform that enables promotional campaigns, social distribution, CRM engagement, but also delivers operational solutions like gift cards, POS integration and ROI measurement.