Vidappe alerts students of WildCARD discounts

Stephanie Haines

Northwestern University Services is now listed in an iPhone4 and Android app called Vidappe, which alerts students of nearby stores’ discounts.

Created by 2010 Cornell University graduate Star Li, the app organizes the day-to-day discounts a person can redeem simply by flashing a membership card – or, for Northwestern students, a WildCARD. Vidappe allows the user to choose a geographic region and then a specific membership program for the user’s area. The app can notify the user of locations within both driving and walking distances; the driving setting alerts the user of discounts within a mile radius, and the walking setting reminds users within a block radius.

“There are so many existing discounts that people don’t know about,” Li said. “All they have to do is show a membership card or a school ID.”

Though her app is only three months old, 78 colleges and more than 80 businesses are listed on its alert system. Now, Li is working to globalize it. She said she advertises the free app by personally contacting membership departments of local businesses, student governments and student media outlets.

“It’s really a side tool for organizations to say ‘Hey, by the way, we have this discount,'” Li said.

Li said she contacted NU Services Marketing and Communications Manager Jessica Jacobs about Vidappe. Jacobs decided to list NU on the app for the benefit of both students and Evanston businesses. According to Jacobs, business owners have responded enthusiastically to the student patronage they rake in from the WildCARD advantages.

“It’s a mutually beneficial relationship,” she said.

Manager Hector Garcia of Cold Stone Creamery, 1611 Sherman Ave., said he knows about Vidappe and is currently working to be listed on the application. Cold Stone has been offering a 10 percent WildCARD advantage discount for five years. Although the offer has been good for business, Garcia said he is not sure whether the app will make a marked difference.

“No one walks around just looking for discounts,” said Garcia. “But it wouldn’t hurt to be listed on the app.”

Despite Li’s efforts, many Evanston businesses do not yet know about the app. Local beauty store Benefit Boutique, 1625 Sherman Ave., has offered a 10 percent discount for WildCARD holders for five years. Assistant Manager Stephanie Aitkin said although she has not heard about Vidappe, she believes it could increase awareness of Benefit’s service.

Other business owners and managers do not see evident benefits of the app, or even a WildCARD discount.

Eddie Lakin, owner of Edzo’s Burger Shop, 1571 Sherman Ave., said he recently decided to remove his discount offer because he said it did not make much difference to his business.

“A small discount doesn’t make or break a visit,” Lakin said.

Weinberg sophomore Shruti Zaveri agreed that the app will not impact students’ personal shopping or dining habits.

“I don’t think the app would motivate anyone to go into Evanston,” Zaveri said. “But if they were already there, the alerts would be beneficial.”

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