Alpharetta rolls out Rately

The City of Alpharetta has partnered with local technology firm Digital Scientists to promote a new location-aware mobile application. Called Rately, the Android and iPhone app will offer shoppers rewards programs.

rately logoWe’ve seen apps like this come and go over the years. The idea certainly isn’t new. And technology like this isn’t new from even Alpharetta-based companies. Back in 2011 NCR (formerly Radiant Systems) rolled out a similar app that leveraged that company’s existing presence in the cash registers of restaurants. It didn’t gain acceptance in the marketplace. The challenge has always been either with flaky GPS locations or having a process that requires restaurant staff to check you in.

Rately stands a chance to make it here for a few reasons. First, they are using a bluetooth-based location technology to check users into a business based on proximity to a sensor. This should be more reliable that GPS however users will have to enable bluetooth on their phones at all times.

Second, Rately already has wide retail participation from the very get go. By partnering with the city and its tight-knit business coalition, they have a huge local adoption rate. Nearly every downtown retailer and restaurant is already on board in addition to several along Windward Parkway and at Avalon.

Another draw with Rately is it’s anonymous. Every other app wants to maintain profiles, collect data and build dossiers on your shopping and dining habits. Not Rately. No login is required and it isn’t spamming your Facebook friends.

This program is very new and way too early to review. However the biggest drawback I see is the lack of serious rewards from the Alpharetta restaurants and merchants participating. For example, South Main Kitchen is offering a paltry 10% off your bill after ten visits. Others are doing buy one get one free deals after several visits. That’s about it. Restaurants are going to have to sweeten the deal a good bit before consumers install apps. But we’ll see.

Do you think Rately will gain widespread use in Alpharetta? You can download it at iTunes and the Google Play store.

12 Responses to “Alpharetta rolls out Rately”

  1. A November 21, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    Just downloaded it, but it doesn’t look like it does very much. Maybe you have to be in proximity to one of their supported businesses for it to kick in. There’s no listing of Alpharetta businesses or their loyalty reward levels within the app, which would be a nice feature. I use SpotOn at a couple of local businesses, and it tells you right in the app what you get at what level of spending or visits.

  2. Tom Klein November 27, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

    Thank you for a very thoughtful review. We’re in the beta phase of the program and listening intently to shoppers and retailers about how to improve.

  3. Cool Papa Bell November 29, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

    It’s insulting. I’ve been to South Main Kitchen a few times and had planned on going back until I saw that slap in the face. So if I go 10 times and spend $100 each time and give a $20 tip, I’ve spent $1,200 plus tax. My reward: oh $10 off, so now I’d only spent $1,190. Oh don’t spend all the savings in one place.

    No matter how you slice it, you get one-percent back BEFORE tax and tip but only if you go 10 times! I know this is a family blog, but kiss my pork osso buco. There are too many good restaurants to choose from. I’d rather give my hard-owned money who doesn’t take us all for a bunch of simpletons.

  4. A December 3, 2014 at 1:07 pm #

    @Cool Papa Bell, where did you get the info about how much you have to spend, etc.? I can’t find that anywhere on the app. It’s terribly designed and the search is ridiculous. I want to find all the local Alpharetta businesses that support it and what their reward levels are. In SpotOn, it automatically shows you nearby businesses and their levels. It’s so easy. Why can’t Rately do this?

    And this doesn’t even address your issue about how much you have to spend. It’s insane and makes me not even want to try SoMain Kitchen a first time!

  5. Cool Papa Bell December 4, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    @A, says :

    “Level 1 • 10 visit: Receive 10% off your purchase.” I was doing the basic math assuming each visit was for about the same amount. Now in fairness, I do not see fine print that says how much you have to spend each time. So true, if you dine solo nine times and then bring a crowd of 15 the 10th time, yes the one-percent figure would be inaccurate.

    Perhaps the fine print allows that but even so that’s not exactly much of deal for such loyalty.. Still 10 percent off one-visit after having to visit 10 times is a slap in the face.

  6. A December 4, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    Thanks @Cool Papa Bell and I agree that 10% off after 10 visits is a joke. That should be an incentive after just 1 visit. I still think the app is terrible. I went back yesterday and looked at SpotOn. Not only will it show you all the businesses nearby that support it, but it clearly shows all the rewards for a particular business. Rately should be able to do that if they hope anyone will actually use it.

  7. Cool Papa Bell December 4, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    @A, who knows maybe they will be right and Alpharettans and those who dine in Alpharetta are just stupid as a doorknob.

    Tin Roof Kitchen (how is that awful place still around?) has a special that you get half off an appetizer. Wooooooooooow thanks.

    But alas on your second trip you get a BOGO….on dessert. This is simply not well thought out at all. If merchants think that little of us, how much should we think of them?

  8. A December 11, 2014 at 11:38 am #

    Lee–I don’t tweet but saw yours about Rately while you were at Mugs on Milton. Did they ever get back to you? We went to Crust last week, and the Rately app automatically told us we had an offer, so we asked our server about it, and he gave us a look like a deer in headlights. He asked the manager and they are not doing any rewards yet the app makes it look like they are.

    And unlike SpotOn, you have to have Bluetooth enabled on your phone for Rately to work, which is a huge negative. We all know Bluetooth drains your batteries, and a lot of us keep it off unless using an accessory.

  9. S Lee Guy December 11, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    Yes, I tried Rately for the first time this week. Went into Mugs on Milton and the app didn’t do anything. Sent them a tweet about it and in minutes a guy from Digital Scientists was in the coffee shop with me to troubleshoot. That’s impressive tech support!

    Turns out there was a rather significant defect in the Android app, which they have already patched. I’ve not had a chance to try it since that time.

    The Bluetooth technology is good and bad. It’s good in that it doesn’t rely on the GPS location, which can be shoddy while inside. It also ensures that you’re very close to the cash register and not next door or just walking by. But as others have pointed out, it drains battery juice.

    Alpharetta’s participating restaurants and shops need to dish out some generous rewards to users for this thing to gain any traction. Otherwise it will join a host of other similar rewards program apps that have been uninstalled from my phone.

  10. A December 11, 2014 at 2:16 pm #

    Interesting, but I have the iOS version of the app and it’s still terrible. Also it looks like some businesses may not even know they are part of it, or at least they haven’t told their employees!

    Agree that local businesses need to step up their rewards, otherwise it becomes a hassle rather than something you want to use.

    Also, I’ve noticed national brands like Target on the app. Does that mean if you walk into any Target you’ll get credit for a visit? And do you get a reward?

    Seriously, those guys need to make it much clearer what you get for how many visits.

  11. S Lee Guy December 11, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    @A – Similar apps have had this problem. I remember when foursquare was new several years back. You’d check in somewhere then ask a server for the free appetizer or whatever the reward was. They were clueless and usually too busy to inquire with managers about it (who were often equally as confused).

    I get the feel that this program is more of an offshoot of the new Alpharetta Chamber. They’ve leveraged this app that Digital Scientists built, something that probably was more of a mobile shopping program than a check in app.

    I hope the Rately guys are reading as this is genuine, constructive feedback for their app. Every other news outlet in town is simply running the city’s press release on Rately and nothing else.

  12. Rately_Andrew December 12, 2014 at 10:53 am #

    Hi Everyone! Thanks so much for the feedback on Rately. We take all of your comments/suggestions seriously and are constantly looking to improve Rately for you as customers, and for the Alpharetta merchants. You can find a complete overview of the program, as well as participating merchants at We would also love to hear from you directly. You can send any feedback (good or bad) to so that we can learn what you like about the program, and what we can improve upon. We look forward to hearing from you!

    Software Developer at Digital Scientists

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