Scott Bowefield – Founder/CEO
Hi Whatcom County residents! I have lived in the Columbia neighborhood of Bellingham for 17 years. In late 2017, I had the opportunity (in the form of an early retirement incentive package) to leave my executive sales job in a large, multinational corporation. Almost without hesitation, I jumped at the opportunity! I had dreamed for years of being in a job where I felt more integrated in the community and where I’d be able to make a real impact that could help keep Whatcom County the vibrant, locally driven community that we all love so much. As I explored the idea of local economic development, I came to realize that one of the reasons “Buy Local” campaigns have such a difficult time gaining and sustaining real momentum is that they aren’t able to offer programs that can significantly impact local buying habits (and thus businesses’ sales) over the short term. The mission is noble, and virtually all of us are supporters, but historically it has been a mission centered on changing the economic culture of a community, which takes time… Typically lots of time.
Was there a way to affect a meaningful change in local buying behavior on a scale of weeks and months, instead of years and decades? I struggled with the thought for quite some time, until I walked into the grocery store one evening and for the first time saw, really saw, the enormous gift card kiosk, with it’s hundreds of national brands. I was suddenly struck with the realization that this, the simple gift card, could be the economic engine that had the power to finally drive a change in local buying trends over the short term! As I researched more I quickly came on the gift card stats: $160 billion in annual sales; the #1 most requested gift; the vast majority of sales going to national companies rather than local businesses… and Whatcom Gift Cards was born.
But here’s the bottom line: What I I truly hope is that you find that local gift cards, and the much more personal connections they represent, have the power to change how it feels to both give and receive a gift card, because really – I mean really, at that deepest level of your heart that touches, and is touched by, the people in your life – isn’t that at the core of what it means to be a community? Cheers, and meaningful giving! Scott
Brad Stevens – WGC Advisory Group
During his 2002 – 2009 tenure as Vice President, Customer Relationship Management for Starbucks, Brad founded Starbucks’ first Customer Relationship Management function, where he oversaw the $1 billion Starbucks Card business, global consumer insights, and brand loyalty.
Under his leadership, Starbucks CRM launched the Starbucks Card Rewards (the precursor to My Starbucks Rewards) and Starbucks Gold programs, which comprised more than 3 million members collectively. His teams developed an analytics infrastructure to track program ROI, and formulated an annual communications strategy to build Starbucks brand loyalty. During this time, Starbucks more than doubled its customer database, generated 95% member satisfaction, and built a new understanding of frequent customer purchase behavior.
A hallmark of Starbucks’ CRM strategy under Stevens was constant innovation of the Starbucks Card payment platform, including Starbucks Card Mini and Starbucks Card Mobile, the iPhone app that introduced Starbucks’ popular in pay-by-phone capability.
In 2011, Brad joined Nordstrom as Vice President, Loyalty Programs, where he was the executive responsible for increasing sales and customer retention through loyalty marketing at one of the leading fashion specialty retailers in the U.S. and was accountable for strategy and execution of the Nordstrom Fashion Rewards and Nordstrom Gift Card programs, which together contribute to more than 40% of company sales. Supported a team of 26 loyalty and gift card marketers in strategy, program management, communications, store engagement and analytics functions, Brad delivered record growth in Fashion Rewards program membership (+20%), sales volume (+19%) and incremental sales ($1B+) in 2012.