Spently Launches to Help Merchants Turn Email Receipts Into Marketing Campaigns

This week Toronto-based Spently launched its marketing and customer rewards platform for merchants, helping them send branded, customized email receipts to customers. The company is trying to turn the static paper receipt into something more interactive and valuable for both consumers and brands, letting brick-and-mortar and ecommerce companies to send out customized email receipts to their customers with special offers and deals. Launched in closed beta in August, Spently recently partnered with Shopify to make Spently available to its base of over 30,000 merchants, and is working on point-of-sale (POS) integrations with systems including LightSpeed.

The company originally started as a cloud-based receipt storage tool, but co-founder Vincent Panepinto said they decided to pivot to a solution for merchants. “We realized not only do paper receipts suck, but email receipts or digital receipts are just as bad. We knew it was a consumer pain point in terms of receipt storage,” Panepinto said, but said they didn’t just want to be a mobile wallet app like Lemon or Google Wallet. “We don’t really want to play in that space. Working with merchants we were able to find a good niche and also provide them value while we could also gain revenue.”

Spently’s dashboard lets merchants create their own branded receipts, which can include everything from their Twitter account, to special store offers. Merchants sign up for an account, select the POS system they use, and can then add their retail locations and online stores, and edit how they want receipts to look by location, adding everything from images to social media links to deals. They can then track the campaigns, from who opened the receipts to who redeemed deals, in an online dashboard.

Panepinto said small businesses are really their target, since it gives them an automated way to send digital receipts. Other point-of-sale and mobile payments solutions already offer email receipts, including Square and LevelUp, not to mention retailers who have moved to offering digital receipts, including Gap. Despite the fact that there’s competition in the online receipts space, Spently wants to differentiate by offering customization and rewards features, so they aren’t just an online version of a paper receipt.

“We’re really just a value-add application,” he said. “We’re a plug-and-play solution so there’s no coding required, they can basically log into our dashboard, add locations, edit receipts, customize them and bring them on-brand, add social media, add special offers, and then we report on the success of their campaigns, and it’s all without coding.”

The company charges on a subscription basis depending on the number of transaction processed, starting at $15 per month for up to 500 transactions, with custom enterprise plans available. Along with the Shopify partnership, which Panepinto said is being tested by several merchants, Spently is being used by five merchant customers of MINDBODY Online, a point-of-sale system focused on gyms, and yoga studios. The company is also testing or in talks with POS and payment systems including LightSpeed, Stripe, and Vend.

The company won the Humber Venture Fund business plan competition in 2011, and has raised $100,000 from angel investor Jim Waters. They will be looking to open up the API so third-party providers can leverage Spently’s solution, for example giving loyalty solutions the ability to add their offers to digital receipts, and are also planning to add customer segmentation so merchants can target receipts based on type of customer. While there are several players trying to convince merchants to adopt mobile payments, tackling just the receipts, and integrating them with existing POS systems, might be a good way for merchants to dip their toes in the online loyalty and payments space without committing to a new bottom-up solution.

Erin Bury

Erin Bury

Erin Bury is the Managing Director at 88 Creative, a creative communications agency based in Toronto. She was formerly the Managing Editor at BetaKit, and currently writes a monthly column for the Financial Post. Follow her on Twitter at @erinbury.

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