Shalom Life | April 24, 2014

Smartslips - Smart Receipts for Smart Shoppers

New product aims to overhaul the paper receipt system

By: Sammy Hudes

Published: August 25th, 2011 in Business » World

Smartslips - Smart Receipts for Smart Shoppers

Back in 2002, Corey Gross had bought a universal remote control that would not configure with his television and he wanted to return it. The only problem, one that is very common, is that he had already thrown out the receipt by accident.

It was then, when Gross first had the thought of designing a paperless receipt system. After keeping the idea in the back of his minds for years, he decided to finally put it into action. Currently, Gross is the president of Smartslips as well as its co-CEO along with his high school friend, Daniel Nissan.

Smartslips is Gross’ and Nissan’s solution to overhaul the paper receipt system, which as Gross points out, is very flawed.

“What you know of receipts right now is a piece of paper that you may throw in a shoebox or in your pocket,” Gross tells Shalom Life. “But ours is literally a swipe and go. You go to a retailer and instead of getting a piece of paper, you swipe a card.”

The card that Gross speaks of would be connected to an account, which consumers would be able to access online or through a mobile app. The account aggregates all receipts obtained from Smatslips’ participating stores, without the consumer ever having to obtain a printed copy. All receipts associated with one’s account could then be automatically categorized by store, type of product or region.

“A lot of people will keep their receipt in a bag and it will get thrown out,” Gross explains. “Then, finally when you need it for a return, for a rebate or if you needed to keep the receipt because you were delivering it to your boss and he was going to pay you back, you don’t have it anymore.”

There are many advantages to the type of system which Gross is proposing, the first of which relates to returning a product. Instead of having to print a receipt for an item purchased online, or searching for a tiny slip of paper that is stored away or that has already been thrown out, as in the case of Gross’ universal remote, a consumer wishing to return an item would just have to bring their Smartslips card back to the store, swipe it to see the receipt and apply it to the item that he or she wishes to return.

“You never have to worry about losing your receipt again,” said Gross. All of your receipts are in one place accessible to you at any time. It’s an entirely paperless system.”

Much like the first advantage, Smartslips solves the problem that people face when they lose track of their warranty information, because warranties are currently presented as paper receipts. The Smartslips system tracks a warranty that is bought and warns the consumer when its expiration is approaching, via their Smartslips account.

For stores, Smartslips can be used to inspire brand loyalty. If a person often purchases items at a particular store using their card, he or she may be offered special deals through the account to bring him or her back to the store.

“We want to allow stores to get an idea of purchase behavioural patterns of their customers without infringing on privacy. We have an anonymized system through data aggregation. That means that stores will be able to see, at a very high level, what types of people are buying what types of products. You can obviously offer things that are more relevant to people. It’s a system that’s supposed to appeal to what people’s various tastes are.”

On the other hand, consumers can use their accounts and see how much money they are spending and where they are spending it. By tracking their purchases through a centralized medium, it would then be easier for consumers to control their spending habits.

One of the greatest benefits of the Smartslips system, which uses bank level security, is its ability to prevent fraud. In the United States alone, return fraud is a $15 billion problem every year.

“The money being paid out to malicious returners is really an epidemic problem in North America and around the world that we’re trying to control with Smartslips,” said Gross.

“Now the way the return is processed is you give someone a piece of paper which is easily duplicable. The store will usually accept it as real, process the return and give cash back. [But with Smartslips], you get a receipt that’s not duplicable, not forgeable and you can’t input receipts into the system. That allows the store to control returns better.”

By eliminating the need for stores to constantly print thermal paper, which cannot be recycled, Smartslips benefits the environment.

“The chemical used to burn the text into the piece of paper can’t be recycled or broken down. It also contains BPA, which is toxic and found to be harmful to the environment, humans and animals. What we’re trying to do is not just stop printing paper, which is a great thing in itself, but we’re really trying to avoid circulating toxins that we know have geological detriments both in the green side and in the human side,” said Gross.

While some companies offer email receipts, Gross says that this is unbeneficial to the consumer, as printing costs are then shifted from the store to themselves, and emails are still scattered and difficult to find.

“We feel like our competitive advantage or really the breakthrough of our system as compared to any other system that you’ve seen is that it is centralized.”

Right now, Smartslips is in the process of negotiating with many large brand retailers to carry and support their product. Once deals are signed, people will be able to obtain a Smartslips card, free of cost, at the checkout counters of large retail stores, before signing up with a username and password online. The card, as well as a future mobile app, will then be used for all subsequent purchases.

Gross says that for North Americans, the time is right for Smartslips to hit the market. He points to the online banking system, used by 63 per cent of Canadians who regularly use the internet (by far the highest percentage of any country), to prove that people are looking to switch to mobile solutions and innovative products

“Society, with the technical and mobile environment that we live in, is really looking to embrace something like this,” said Gross.

“You’re really going to see gravitation towards this type of service. It’s another product that’s aimed at simplifying the day-to-day life experience. We hope that we are going to make life a little bit easier for people on the go.”

For more information about Smartslips, visit http://www.smartslips.com/

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