Waterloo-founded startup Reebee, a current Y Combinator Summer 2013 cohort member, wants to take digital flyers and make them actually useable, something which a lot of companies have tried but none have gotten quite right. Reebee is mobile first, which is a great start, but it’s got a lot of plans besides that in store for revolutionizing one of retail’s oldest and most trusted marketing channels.
Currently, Reebee is available on iOS, Android and BlackBerry and collects over 300 weekly flyers in Canada. Flyers account for a huge amount of the marketing budget of any brick-and-mortar retailer, even now that a lot of commerce has fled online. The growing number of people shopping online means that flyers need to adapt, but focusing too much on digital means leaving behind older customers and other shoppers who are still very comfortable with the paper flyer format.
Reebee solves the problem by keeping things simple; what you’ll get with flyers that appear in its library is a browsing experience that works seamlessly with touch controls, so that you can swipe between pages and pinch to zoom, but otherwise it’s just like reading a print flyer. This is an MVP, according to Reebee co-founders Tobiasz Dankiewicz and Michal Martyniak, and there are more features planned, but the experience as-is is winning them a lot of fans.
“Even with the MVP model of just the browsing, people are loving the experience and it’s receiving higher ratings than certain branded apps,” Dankiewicz said. “We’ve even heard feedback from people asking us not to change or add any sort of features, so we have to be really careful when we introduce things not to ruin the extreme simplicity of it.”
Feature updates are planned, however, as Reebee wants to make it possible to search through flyers to find the one you’re looking for, as well as create unified shopping lists from various stores. The company also wants to link product pages from retailer’s e-shopping sites in cases where that makes sense, though it’s less useful in cases like grocery stores.
For now, Reebee is adding a lot of flyers on its own, but it’s also partnered with some retailers who are paying for its services. In return, these retailers get access to detailed analytics about their customers, as well as priority placement within the app. Soon, Reebee will also be launching a list where users can sign up to let companies know they’d rather receive flyers via Reebee than through paper mail, and they’ll be sent a sticker or some other way of notifying mail carriers in response. Reebee hopes this will act as a sales tool, showing its target customers that they can reach their existing audience via new, less expensive and more ecologically sound ways.
Reebee hopes to tackle the U.S. market sometime in the next year, but notes that there’s a lot involved with working out what adds to serve for what geographies, a less daunting task in Canada. It’s had a big hand from YC involvement, however, and plans to tackle the challenge of coupons (another huge market) too.