But for one startup, there is a clear and simple way to solve
the merchant problem: bypass them entirely.
Endorse, run by founder and CEO Steven Carpenter,
is a mobile app and loyalty platform, built on extracting data from
photos of receipts. Consumers browse the deals and rewards either
before or after they shop, go to their local supermarket to
… well, do what people do at supermarkets, and upon
conclusion, scan the receipt.
Users then select the deals that apply to their purchases, and
Endorse identifies the match, applying the coupon or deal brokered
directly with the CPG companies. No coupon clipping, no more giving
your phone number to the cashier because you lost the little card
they gave you, and no more fighting over expired coupons or fine
Mr. Carpenter will demo the company's latest app and unveil a new
partnership at Ad Age 's Digital Conference in San
Francisco Sept. 20
By making couponing a more user-friendly experience, Endorse
hopes to become a gatekeeper to a wealth of very actionable data,
even on retailers that keep their own data close to the vest. Then
it can pass that on to partners, as well as target more desirable
deals to consumers in the future. Right now, PopChips and several
PepsiCo brands are offering deals on the platform.
"Right now, most brands don't have access to cross-retail
product-level purchase data," said Mr. Carpenter, because the
retailers don't share it. They might get snapshots, but they don't
get longitudinal data -- one user's purchase habits over a period
Knowing that a given consumer who buys "X" is also likely to buy
"Y" can be empowering information, especially when viewed over a
period of time and for multiple merchants.
Mr. Carpenter said privacy was designed into the app so that
personal information is never shared with marketers. Incidentally,
Pew just released a report on
the topic of mobile privacy, noting that many adults shy away from
apps that demand too much personal information. In this case,
however, it may be well worth the tradeoff, as the more the users
use the app, the more tailored it will be to their specific needs
For the moment, Endorse still cuts users a check after hitting
the requisite minimum of $25 in rewards, though digital payment is
almost certainly on the horizon.
The 12-person company has raised $4.25 million in funding from
SV Angel as well as Accel Partners, where Mr. Carpenter was