Feature Story: Toronto startup’s decision to target enriched digital email receipts for SMBs vs the crowded consumer mobile wallet space has paid off in angel money and integration deals.
The mobile wallet space is starting to get just as crowded and jam packed as the traditional wallets the technology was meant to replace.
After surveying the increasingly competitive mobile wallet landscape,Toronto startup Spently decided to switch gears and streamline itsfocus.
The company’s original product focus was a digital system for storingreceipts in the cloud. But it required consumers to register for aSpently account and email address so they could save and retrieve theirreceipts. Plans included a mobile app providing a unique ID that couldbe scanned at the cash to send a digital receipt to a customer’sSpently account. With the competitive clock ticking and new andestablished players crowding the space (including Google Wallet, Lemonand Apple Passbook), Spently reconsidered.
“We took a look at the landscape,” says co-founder Nicholas Wiktorczyk.“We just (decided) to focus on receipts and be the best at that. Thelandscape around us helped us make that decision.”
The new approach is simple: make paper receipts digital, turn them itinto a tool for branding, marketing, social sharing and discount deals,and allow retailers to email those receipts to their shoppers’ ownemail accounts. So instead of focusing on the mobile and cloud storageaspect of receipts for consumers, Spently is treating receipts as anenriched digital marketing tool that can be used by SMB retailers andaccessed simply by shoppers through their existing email accounts.
“(Consumers) weren’t too crazy about paying to store their receipts,”Wiktorczyk says. “Now we allow merchants to send super charged receiptsthat have their brand logo, space for special offers, links to socialmedia and whatnot. We’re bringingthese receipts to life, making them branded and allowing them to be afull sales marketing tool.”
Spently also offers analytics so retailers can measure how effectivelytheir digital receipts engage their shoppers. Wiktorczyknotes, for example, that shoppers tend to open Spently’s brand ofemailed digital receipts about 80 per cent of the time, which he saysis a much higher rate of engagement than digital receipts that onlyinclude the merchant’s name, location, and transaction details.
Revenue flows to Spently through monthly fees based on the volume ofreceipts retailers email. Monthly rates are $15 for 500 receipts, $30for 2,000 and $60 for 5,000. Rates can be customized for largerenterprise retailers, Wiktorczyk says.
Spently has also signed up new capital investment and integrationpartners. In March it racked up $100,000 in angel funding courtesy ofJim Waters, former chairman of broadcasting giant Chum Ltd. and son of Chum founder Allan Waters. On Monday, Spently’s digital receiptsolution was added to the app store at Shopify, an Ottawa-based companythat offers a turnkey e-commerce template for businesses. It means the35,000 businesses that use Shopify’s e-commerce platform will also be able to buy Spently’s solution for digital receipts.
Spently has inked a similar integration deal to make its app availablethrough MindBody, which provides point-of-sale systems for 20,000 gyms,yoga studios and other fitness related businesses. Integration dealswith U.S. firm Stripe and LightSpeed (a Montreal-based company bestknown for its iPad point-of-sale platform) have already been greenlitwith details now being hammered out, Wiktorczyk says. With revenue nowcoming in from SMB users, Spently has hired its first two employees.
All of which seems to indicate that the shift to enriched emailreceipts has been worth it for Spently so far. The company isn’t rulingout a return to focusing on the consumer side of receipt management andstorage later. For now, it’s trying to master the smaller enterpriseniche for digital receipts as a marketing tool.
“We think this is an untapped strategy so far in the receiptmarketplace. Most competitors have gone to the high enterprise side ofthings, the big large retailers. We’ve focused now on the SMB niche andmaking these strategic partnerships allowing us to integrate,”Wiktorczyk says.