Indonesia’s Snapcart Turns The Humble Receipt Into Big Data For Brands And Retailers

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Smartphones could give retailers and brands unprecedented insight into consumer spending and behavior just by allowing you to photograph your receipt.

That’s the premise of a new technology startup that launched in Indonesia today. Snapcart is backed by Ardent Capital — the VC firm behind Southeast Asia’s logistics network aCommerce and numerous e-commerce startups — and it aims to turn oft-discarded receipts into data gold mines.

The theory is simple. Physical retailers and brands know little about consumers and their shopping habits beyond survey-based data and estimates from research firms like Nielsen. Yet, the precious information is contained within a small piece of paper that shoppers typically throw away with little regard: the receipt. Snapcart is incentivizing users to take photos of their receipts and upload them into its app in exchange for cashback and rewards.

On paper, it’s a win-win — what consumer doesn’t like free stuff? And what brand or advertisers isn’t willing to pay up (incentives) to get fresh insight into their customers?

The concept isn’t entirely new. Ibotta, a U.S. company backed by over $20 million from investors, provides cash back for access to similar data. Unlike Ibotta, which requires users to photo both their receipt and individual product barcodes for in-store purchases, Snapcart uses artificial intelligence to pull product information right from a receipt, so users take just one photo.

Jakarta-based Snapcart has launched with two prominent, global brands — Nestlé and L’Oréal — but says it is in talks with another 20 or so partners. Founder Reynazran Royono — formerly with Proctor and Gamble and Boston Consulting — told TechCrunch he came up with the idea when reflecting on his experience as a consultant and a spell at e-commerce firm Berniaga.com, now OLX.co.id. Online retailers have access to a treasure trove of shopper data that physical retailers can only dream of, Royono said, and Snapcart aims to help change things.

The main challenge looks to be gaining scale among shoppers — Snapcart claims it has 12,000 pre-launch installs of its app. Snapcart said it will initially work with brands, which it is leveraging for marketing and other opportunities for exposure among consumers, and over time it plans to include physical retailers through in-store integrations. It is first focused on grocery items, because they are daily necessities, but will branch out into other verticals over time, Royono explained.

The company is starting live in Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s biggest country with a population of 250 million and ample opportunity, but Royono said he plans to expand across Southeast Asia towards the end of 2016. Snapcart is currently raising new funding, which he said should give it a good 18 months of runway.

“Snapcart is the most promising big data business in Southeast Asia we’ve seen so far,” Adrian Vanyl, CEO of Ardent Capital, said in a statement. “For brands, it is data they’ve fantasized about, but never had any practical way to actually collect.”