Data-driven marketing over the last 2 decades has largely been about creating more relevant and personalised messages for consumers while providing ever-more precise targeting. Data from our use of the web and social media has been a big driver of this trend along with information about our buying habits from loyalty programs.
However, stricter privacy laws such as the GDPR and initiatives by Google and Apple on the use of tracking cookies and data sharing across apps promises to set back some of these developments. This is where innovative start-ups such as Airslip are moving to fill the gap by developing anonymous and privacy-centric services that make use of emerging technologies to offer a better experience for consumers and, in Airslip’s case, retailers.
This conversation with Airslip’s co-founders, Jade Bates and Tom McDonough, shows how valuable, anonymous customer data can easily be collected with smart receipts by retailers while offering value-added benefits for consumers.
Could you give us a brief overview of what Airslip does and why it was founded?
Airslip is a customer experience platform that transforms the way businesses engage with their customers whilst empowering consumers to receive what they deserve from the brands they love. The Airslip app allows consumers to link their bank and receive smart receipts, warranty information, loyalty rewards, product information, digital manuals and more into the Airslip app by just simply paying as usual. No personal information or barcode scanning at the checkout or account creation for online purchases – simply pay with your bank card, as usual, to receive your post-sale assets and get the most out of your purchase in one nifty app on your smartphone.
Airslip was founded because paper receipts are still the standard for proof of purchase in the 21st century and not only provide little benefit to retailers or consumers, are an increasing problem environmentally. We saw an opportunity to combine smart receipts, integrated loyalty, and digital product info into one frictionless solution – the Airslip app (currently in BETA – COMING SOON!).
Smart receipts are at the core of Airslip’s offering. Could you explain what smart receipts are and how Airslip uses them?
A smart receipt is an interactive, intuitive, and connected proof of purchase that enables consumers to receive their purchase information instantly to their smartphone with the ability to engage with brands post-sale. Smart receipts require no personal information or barcode scanning at the checkout or account creation online and are sent securely and frictionlessly to the Airslip app.
Airslip’s proprietary technology works in the background, matching retailer order data to bank transactions, linking the online and offline world. Smart receipts enable retailers to connect with their customers, including unknown and guest shoppers to enhance post-sale customer experience.
As you develop Airslip’s offering, what types of business and sectors are you initially focusing on?
The Airslip solution works for various retail sectors that accept payment by card. Initially, we will focus on Supermarkets, Home, Electronics, and Clothing retailers as our research has shown that consumers have a strong preference for receiving proof of purchase in these sectors. As a London-based start-up, our initial focus is the United Kingdom & Europe, with some of our initial retailers being based in the UK, Netherlands, France, & Germany.
Where does your product sit in the retail value chain?
Airslip sits within the Sell-Side of the retail value chain and covers all three functions: Sales Channels, Sales Operations and Customer Relationships & Sale Analytics.
The Airslip app is a universal solution with no external dependencies, such as banking institutions. Consumers can link an unlimited amount of bank accounts from various financial institutions across the UK & EU. The platform provides retailers with the ability to connect with their customers, including unknown and guest shoppers, something that is incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to achieve currently and build lasting customer relationships. The Airslip app opens a sales channel offering retailers a point-of-interaction to customers with the ability for consumers to engage back with their favourite brands.
Airslip’s AI-powered customer insights algorithm builds up anonymous buyer personas used to anticipate customer needs before demand, providing personalised product promotions on each smart receipt. The platform enables consumers to view and purchase additional products within the app, increasing customer engagement and satisfaction. Airslip takes away the heavy lifting in sales operations and empowers retailers to unlock the value in their existing customer base by upselling relevant products to customers that already know and trust their brand.
The Airslip solution brings a whole new level to customer insights and analytics. Our proprietary technology uses historic customer spend data and Open Banking to analyse consumer behaviours, traits, and characteristics. Market segmentation analytics are created building up anonymous buyer persona’s leading to an enhanced post-sale customer experience for the consumer. Customer insights are provided back to the retailer anonymously to protect the consumers’ identity. Both low-cost and cost-plus retailers, premium retailers and digital retailers can focus on post-sale customer service to increase customer retention whilst also using the data for new marketing and expansion strategies.
The dashboards you build for your clients based on smart receipt data look interesting. How do clients use them and what are some of the insights they provide?
Airslip works hard with retail clients to build dashboards that work for the brand. The insights we collect are provided to the retailer anonymously and give granular data on who their customers are. The data ranges from demographic (gender, age, family structures etc.) to psychographic (interests, chronotype, traits, hobbies, diet etc.) to behavioural (spending habits, brand interactions, transactional behaviour, technographic etc.) to geographic (location, travel radius, travel patterns etc.) Depending on the retail industry, customer segmentation will differ. Still, the dashboard will provide a space for retailers to manipulate the data to really understand who is walking into their stores, who is browsing their website, how customers behave and why customers make decisions etc.
Let’s take a supermarket as an example. Currently, supermarkets rely on loyalty schemes to understand who their customers are. Loyalty schemes are tiresome to sign up to and do not always provide consumers with a great deal of value, so adoption rates can be low. Even if adoption rates are high, loyalty schemes rely on consumers scanning their loyalty card every time they shop to get an accurate picture of who a consumer is. In summary, there is a lot of friction, a lot of missing data, and a lot of missed potential. Airslip’s technology works by linking all transactions back to a consumers’ bank card, meaning 100% of the data is received from an Airslip user. The supermarket would get real-time data and a clear picture of when, why, and how consumers are shopping, enabling them to launch targeted marketing campaigns and change marketing strategies to increase customer retention.
Could you talk a little about your AI-powered algorithm and how it helps generate repeat orders?
Airslip’s AI-powered algorithm uses machine learning technology, meaning, like a fine wine – it only gets better with age. Once a consumer agrees to our GDPR and Privacy Policies, our algorithm will analyse consumer data on the most granular level to build up customer segmentation analytics and buyer personas. Instead of mass marketing campaigns that are irrelevant, generic, and not personalised to consumers, our algorithm uses historic customer spend data and leverages Open Banking to continuously learn and understand who consumers are and anticipate their needs.
A vegetarian does not want marketing for a new meat feast pizza, especially on a Tuesday morning, the same way an elderly gentleman does not want marketing for make-up. Consumers have learnt to hate advertisements; why? Because data is not being used to personalise and tailor their experience. If you could anticipate a customer’s need and hit the nail on the head with product, taste, service and timing every time, not only does marketing spend efficiency increase but customer satisfaction does too. Airslip’s customer insights algorithm does precisely that – relevant, personalised product promotions subtly displayed that consumers can click into to view product specifications and reviews and purchase within the app if they chose. We use data for good.
Airslip’s business relies on attracting sufficient numbers of consumers to use your smart receipt app so that enough data is generated to make the offering to retailers and POS providers attractive. What is your marketing strategy to scale your business to create this momentum?
Airslip is engaged with some large retailers based in the UK & EU. Once the app is in the App & Play stores, an extensive marketing campaign will commence working with our ‘launch retailers’ to promote the Airslip app. Working with large retailers with brand authority in their given industries will be vital to raising brand awareness and trust in consumers initially. Airslip also offers a ‘free’ Standard Package where SMEs can provide smart receipts and features to their customers at no cost. The package will enable Airslip to scale quickly, onboarding smaller retailers and raising app awareness. The benefits of the app features will be shown to attract app users such as loyalty integration, where consumers will receive loyalty points and rewards on every shop by just paying; warranty notifications, so consumers can see when their warranties are expiring; rate & review for consumers to leave feedback and see others feedback on products etc. We will also use Social media advertisements, App & Play Store advertisements and rewards for sign-up referrals to raise brand awareness. A great degree of network-effects will come into play as we onboard more retailers and provide more value to our consumers.
Do you have plans to enhance your offering with third party data or use the anonymised data Airslip generates to feed into other products and services?
When developing the Airslip solution, we had one specific focus – to enhance post-sale customer experience for the consumer in a frictionless, efficient way. Airslip is not and doesn’t intend to be a data sharing company and has strict data privacy policies to anonymise all app users’ identity (even from Airslip staff). We do, however, have a pretty exciting roadmap. To name a few – expense integration, budgeting like never before and self-assessment & VAT integrations for self-employed consumers and SMEs.
You recently raised £187,500 in pre-seed capital. How do you plan to use this investment?
In our first funding round, we were very fortunate to have various leading pre-seed funds interested in investing in Airslip and managed to close our round in under four weeks. We are investing the majority of the capital into increasing our development team to focus on product development, with the remaining funds being used for marketing to release the app.