Smart VARs Leverage The Untapped Marketing Potential Of Paper Receipts
By Jay McCall
This retail marketing company’s cure for the common receipt led to rapid expansion with a wellknown ice cream and dessert retail franchise that’s now being implemented by more than 200 stores.
Most retail VARs have concluded that selling POS systems and bundling services is the best way to run a successful channel company. In fact, most VARs don’t give a second thought to peripheral technologies such as scanners and printers. But, Jon Cassell, VP of business development at SmartReceipt, is capitalizing on this overlooked opportunity. SmartReceipt started five years ago as Nutricate, a company that provided nutritional information on customers’ receipts. Over the years it evolved to include targeted messaging that can be adapted to any kind of retailer. “We’ve developed our solutions to be POS agnostic,” says Cassell. “It captures the print stream from the POS before it reaches the printer, and formats the message on the fly to create the final receipt, which could include a coupon, survey, or other brand messages.”
One customer win that highlights SmartReceipt’s ingenuity is with a franchisee that expanded his sandwich franchise to include a well-known ice cream and dessert franchise. “The franchisee had used our solution with great success at his sub shop, and wanted to implement it in his other franchise brand,” says Cassell.
A Franchisee’s Receipt-Based Marketing Solution Gets Corporate Attention
The client purchased the SmartReceipt marketing solution, along with Epson TMT88 series receipt printers, and used SmartReceipt to survey its customers and get candid feedback on what they liked and didn’t like about the dessert retailer’s ice cream flavors, as well as their overall dining experience. “After comparing the SmartReceipt stores to market averages, they observed a number of interesting things,” says Cassell. “They experienced a noticeable uptick in transactions, which correlated to a meaningful increase in revenue. They also received greater than a 100 percent increase in survey response compared to market averages.”
In fact, the franchisee was so impressed with the results of the SmartReceipt solution that he shared the good news with other franchisees, as well as some of the regional managers, which eventually led to additional opportunities for SmartReceipt. “Because of the flexibility we built into the solution, we showed the regional management team how SmartReceipt could be used at a regional — and even corporate — level to meet the customer communication and marketing goals of the company,” says Cassell. “For example, the corporate team can determine the receipt layout, ensuring the logo and company slogan is standardized across all stores.” Regional executives can include specific messaging and/or offers on each receipt, drawing from an online library that’s connected to all the regional stores via the Internet. There’s even an area that can be used to enable local franchisees to deliver customized receipts, surveys, or other messages, and a process whereby franchisees can suggest specific updates to the receipts at the regional and/or corporate level.
New Receipt-Related Services Present New Upsell Opportunities
Presently, SmartReceipt is being used in just under 200 of the ice cream franchise stores, which represents 15 percent of the total stores. Cassell says that even though the SmartReceipt solution could technically work with any printer, his company most often recommends and sells the Epson TMT88 series printers with the SmartReceipt marketing solution. “Unlike traditional receipt printers that are designed to print 40 lines of text, our solution requires a printer that can produce complex graphics and QR codes quickly and accurately,” he says.
SmartReceipt enables its ice cream retail franchise customer to create coupons on the fly with very short expiration dates, commonly three, five, or seven days, to incentivize frequency shopping. “For example, a customer who purchases a small cone may receive a special discount on a medium or large cone during their next visit,” says Cassell. “Traditionally, retailers have had to print and distribute coupons with two- to threemonth expiration dates, which don’t create a strong call to action. Our solution uses real-time data, which enables us to dynamically print coupons that expire in just a few days, which keeps the offer top of mind with the consumer.”
A new offering the retail software developer debuted is SmartReceipt Sweepstakes. This new offering will allow customers, like the ice cream and dessert retailer, to launch and manage a branded sweepstakes campaign, where each receipt is marked with a special symbol or image requiring a certain number of complementary matches to win a prize (like Monopoly). “Our Webbased platform enables probability control distribution of winners and losers,” says Cassell. “We can even provide reports showing how many game pieces were printed and where.” SmartReceipt Sweepstakes has already been adopted by more than 1,500 stores in southern California, and it anticipates thousands more will participate in 2014. “This ice cream franchise realizes that the receipt is so much more than just a proof of purchase,” says Cassell. “A receipt is a message from a relevant brand that’s pertinent to customers and plays an important role in driving a call to action that can be measured.”
Today, SmartReceipt leverages only the medium of paper for its marketing solution, which drives more than one billion targeted advertisements per year through a variety of retailers. However, in the near future, it will offer new ways for its clients to communicate with their customers, including digital and mobile solutions options. “Ironically, we and our clients will most likely find that the most effective way to get consumers to sign up to receive digital messages and offers, or download a mobile app, will be through the paper receipt,” says Cassell.