Reeping the rewards
Wouldn’t it be great if shoppers could photograph receipts on their mobile phone and the technology existed to accurately read their purchases from this photo? James Lenehan, CEO of shopping app, Reep Rewards, speaks to Gillian Hamill to explain how through developing this exact technology, his company can deliver multiple benefits for consumers, brands and retailers alike
12 December 2014 | 0
Brands have experienced a tough slog in Ireland in recent years. Recognising the difficulties brands were facing in a recession struck-Ireland, where own-brands were gaining traction and Irish marketing departments were increasingly shutting up shop and being assimilated into UK operations, was the impetus behind ‘Reep Rewards’. A shopping app which aims to reward consumers, brands and retailers.
As James Lenehan, the app’s founder explains: “One of the big things when I went out to speak to some brands, what resonated with them was the idea of connecting directly with consumers and being able to find out firstly, who their consumer is because that’s something they’ve always struggled with; retailers tend to hold on to that data for themselves. Secondly, being able to not just identify who they are, but actually open a conversation with them. Create a direct relationship, reward them, speak to them and get their feedback.”
Having previously established Win Win; a corporate rewards company offering incentives for business clients, such as flight, cinema and golf vouchers, to name but a few, Lenehan already had the consumer rewards aspect of the new app cracked. What he and his team needed to come up with next was a mechanism for working out which brands the consumer had purchased. What they created was ingenious; get the consumer to take a snap of their receipt on their phone and develop the technology that is able to read the information off that picture. “That was when Reep Rewards was born as a concept,” says Lenehan.
“By the end of last year, we had our prototype built and we went out to the market and we said let’s do six months of testing…with a few brands and a couple of retailers to trial it, and we learnt lots from that phase. The chief [lesson] being that there was an appetite from consumers to get involved in something bigger than just a single merchant programme…The best thing was this concept of coalition where with one centralised tool, you could actually collect and be rewarded by a multitude of brands and retailers; that was really what resonated.”
Advantages for all
An important facet of the app is that consumers, brands and retailers all ‘reep’ benefits. Consumers can discover where to find the best special offers each week and will be rewarded for buying certain products with cash rebates and coupons. This money can be collected on a shopper’s account and traded in for leisure activity rewards. It can even be converted back into actual cash once a shopper has earned enough for a €50 rebate, whereby the money is transferred back to them via a PayPal account. For retailers, offering promotions that don’t involve expensive point of sale changes and time-consuming IT changes was an important consideration. By remembering shoppers’ favourite products and flagging up in-store promotions on their mobiles, Lenehan says the company has conducted a test which shows the app can deliver on average, a 26% increase in transaction value in a convenience store.
As well as signposting a brand’s promotions, the consumer data generated is a major advantage for brand owners. “It’s not recall where people will tell you in a survey, ‘yeah I think I had a can of Coke this week’, it’s actual decisions and actual purchases which is so much more powerful,” says James, who points out that people only actually recall around 20% of their purchases. The company is also planning on “layering in more brand activation” tools into the app such as competitions, which “adds a gamification element” and makes the shopping journey more engaging for consumers.
With supermarkets, discounters and symbol groups already on board, the app is achieving impressive growth among consumers. “We’ve 78,000 consumers signed up and we’re growing because we’re doing an advertisement with TV3; we’re probably adding about 700 people every day, so it’s adding a lot of value for us. Our ambition is to get that to about 250,000 active, engaged consumers.” Lenehan is confident this can be achieved through the company’s plans for ‘refer a friend’ campaigns, social media strategies and a new radio campaign in the new year.
There are currently 16 master brands signed up to the initiative and the company’s aim is to have 100 brands on board. Expansion doesn’t seem to be posing any problems for the group, which initially had no problem securing funding for its fledgling app from venture capitalists. As Lenehan points out: “The grocery space has been largely untapped from a mobile perspective…I think people could see that grocery shopping is something you do four or five times a week; you go into a store and everyone does it, everyone needs it and I think if you can crack a model that serves that market, there’s a big enough prize.”