Could Receipts Prove the Solution to Understanding Consumers?

Oct 21, 2012
Posted by: David

The world is going digital; at least that is what we are being told by every newspaper I read. Most websites I go on have a lovely little button that says ‘keep me logged in or remember me’ making my life easy and simple. As I look to fit a new bathroom and having spent Christmas searching around the web looking at bathroom and shower units trawl around the web it is amazing how every advertisement being served at me is for bathroom stuff. As much as I hate it I have to admit I also find it useful, they are serving me advertisements for things I am currently interested in based on previous behaviour. What could be more logical, simpler and good marketing by them. I don’t mind it as some of the ads are actually interesting and useful to me.

So what is this relevant to banks, well for most of the time banks send me information based on what they think I want through some clever profiling or that I might have ‘stated’ I am interested in as some point in the past. The latter of course does not work very well as I was not for instance interested in bathrooms until the week before Christmas when we made the decision to do the work and in two weeks I will have purchased what I need.

But surely my payment institution is the company that is going to know best what I am buying as they see all the transactions, well no. As many of us know only so well all a bank gets to see on nearly all card purchases is Level 1 data, that is the total spent. So if I spend £300 at Tesco they do not know if it was a big shopping bill or a new TV for the bathroom. This means that a bank, who should know everything about me actually often knows less than the online provider who has cookied me as visited his website.

But all this could be about to change. As we all move to a world of ‘digital’ where retailers want our email addresses for CRM and Mobile Wallets rule our receipts will also move more and more digital. Receipts of course don’t just offer Level 1 data but Level 3 and beyond, full details of what I bought when, where, down to the smallest detail.

We are now starting to see new companies like, Expensify and Slice launching. These companies in one shape or another offer you a ‘Receipts Vault’ a place where you receipts can be held, stored, ready to be accessed when and where you want so you can return goods, manage warranties etc.

But what a bank gets of course is data, more data than they could ever have dreamed of. They know what I am buying, where, when, how many. All the information they need to start sending me offers that are relevant to me today, not what I stated yesterday was of interest to me.

For the user though these receipts can then be tagged by project or event making it easy for me to run reports and MI on specific activities such as a client project or my wife’s Christmas shopping. Some of the solutions allow you to automatically re-order goods, hey last time you ordered XYZ coffee, wouldn’t it be much easier to go the receipt and press re-order after all saves the trouble of checking where you got the best deal from last time and what brand it was.

So receipts could prove the solution to truly understanding consumers for banks, but they may need to hurry. If I work with numerous banks and wallet providers would I need more than one receipt vault, I doubt it thus I foresee over the next 12 – 24 months a land grab or rather a receipt vault grab by companies looking to start storing and managing customers receipts. All very nice, but what of course they are getting the real ability to understand who I am, what I am buying real time.