While ecommerce businesses have the advantage of being able to use their customer’s data to give them better service, bricks-and-mortar main street businesses aren’t always so lucky.
However, Vancouver-based Q.I. Leap is trying to change that fuelled by a $1.8 million seed round. The company is trying to bring the best of both retail worlds together: the benefits of being able to see and touch the items in a brick-and-mortar location, and the ability to create more personalized experiences based on that customer’s data. The company is backed by angel investors including Order of Canada recipients Haig Farris and Chen Fong.
“The future of shopping is very much this coherent connected environment. That will be true for at least five to seven years.”
“Main street Canada and USA merchants are under incredible pressure. Online retailers such as Amazon have deep data on each shopper, the tools to analyze that data and make intelligent personalized recommendations to each shopper, and finally a system to deliver those offers directly to each shopper,” said Farris. “The majority of main street merchants are frankly lucky to even have a handle on their own data let alone having the tools and system to take action. REXEIPT levels the playing field.”
Q.I. Leap has also launched its early adopter program, with just under 100 retail locations across Vancouver.
The company is using the funding to commercialize its flagship product, REXEIPT, which it says provides “Amazon parity data” to retailers. REXEIPT includes an anonymized consumer-facing app that allows customers to track receipts and receive rewards in a loyalty program, while merchants can tie item-level purchases to shoppers, provide better offers, and get insight into ROI and inventory. The app is registration-free, meaning that shoppers don’t need to give away personal information — an evolution from the process of collecting customer emails and sending offers that usually end up in spam folders.
“Shoppers are traditionally identified with their smartphone, so what we did is that instead of getting the merchants to identify shopper, we get the shopper to identify the transaction. I don’t need to know your name to do that,” said Poya Haghnegahdar, CEO and co-founder of Q.I. Leap.
Asked about the potential barrier to entry to main street businesses not interested in learning a new tech, Haghnegahdar notes that the platform means businesses don’t launch a completely new loyalty program, replace their POS, or implement new training staff for new systems.
“With a very minimal piece of software, we change their existing POS systems and data communications divide.”
“These things cost three to seven percent to the topline merchant,” Haghnegahdar said of loyalty programs. “[Our mandate was] we need to be able to do this in a way that most merchants can deploy it in minutes without undergoing a massive technological update, so what we worked hard on is that with their existing POS system, and very minimal piece of software, we change their existing POS systems and data communications divide.”
While just a few years ago the end of bricks-and-mortar was one of the hottest topics in tech, the same retail giants that were supposed to make physical stores obsolete are now opening physical stores themselves.
It may have been tempting to think of a future with no need to move beyond your smartphone, but Haghnegahdar predicts that this model is unsustainable. He’s playing the long game, adding that over the next decade, more merchants will have more need of a platform like REXEIPT.
“The future of shopping is very much this coherent connected environment where we as shoppers are check online because wealth of information that exists there unparalleled, but at the same time, we’re creatures that like to touch certain things or see them up close and personal before we make that purpose,” said Haghnegahdar. “That will be true for at least five to seven years. Exactly what type of items that will apply, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.”
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