Snapcart, a startup helping to bring transparency to the world of offline commerce in Southeast Asia, has raised $3 million in pre-Series A funding.
We first wrote about the company when it launched in September 2015 with the aim of providing data on the largely uncharted world of offline commerce in Southeast Asia, a region of over 600 million consumers and a growing middle class. Snapcart gathers shopper and purchase data by incentivizing consumers to upload their shopping receipts into its app in exchange for cash-back rewards. That information is then turned into consumer insight and reports for its roster of 75-plus clients, which includes multi-nationals and brands like L’Orreal, Nestle and Unilever.
The potential growth of e-commerce attracts the headlines in Southeast Asia, with Alibaba making moves and Amazon poised to jump in this year, but there’s another growth area since the region’s long tail of physical retailers is scattered, offline and hard to track.
“It’s a blackhole and brands don’t know what is happening,” Reynazran Royono, Snapcart CEO and founder — and a former consultant with Proctor and Gamble and Boston Consulting — told TechCrunch.
Snapcart raised $1.7 million in January 2016, and this new financing is designed to push it towards a Series A round before the end of this year. This $3 million raise is led by new investor Vickers Venture Partners with participation from existing backers Wavemaker Partners and SPH Media Fund, the investment arm of Singapore Press Holdings.
Over the past year, Snapcart has expanded from its launch market of Indonesia into the Philippines. Manila is where the startup houses its artificial intelligence and data analysis team, which perfects the systems behind its OCR (optical character recognition) technology that identifies line items within shopping receipts.
“Receipts form different formats across the countries where we collect them so there’s a lot of processes done to decrypt them: translating into text, making sure it is accurate and that we understand what is written,” Royono said in an interview. “We really invest a lot because we want to make sure the data we capture is captured in a high quality manner.”
Beyond that market expansion, Snapcart has opened a business development office in Singapore, but its service isn’t currently active in the country.
“We see a Singapore representation office as being very important because it is where we manage those regional client relationships,” Royono said.
Royono revealed the company is currently undertaking due diligence over its next regional expansion. Thailand is likely to be that market, but the company is yet to officially make a move.
Quality Over Quantity
Unlike most tech companies, Snapcart isn’t obsessing about getting large numbers of downloads of its mobile app. Royono said it tries to cap its active user base at around 50,000 in each market because it wants it to be representative of a country’s entire population. So, if Jakarta makes up 35 percent of Indonesia’s population, then Snapcart aspires to have 35 percent of its userbase in Indonesia located in the city.
A panel of 50,000 consumers would be more than multiples larger than the audience size traditional consumer insight researchers use, but Snapcart also has the advantage of near-instant data capture. Rather than taking months to conduct surveys and publish results, as is traditional for this kind of research, its clients have access to last week’s data at any time. It also offers more granular insight, for instance based on specific outlets, and can track longer term trends, such as the impact of promotional campaigns.
Instead, repeat usage is the key metric for the company.
“The longer the users stay and snap receipts consistently [then] the data becomes more robust, and we can create more analysis from that trail of data,” Royono said, revealing that Snapcart has an impressive 45 percent activity over 30 days from the initial download.
Repetitive user behavior also allows Snapcart to model predictions, giving it another area of data and research to foray into beyond more standard reports.
“We have a lot of new services we can up-sell to our current clients, [and will] focus on that first before we expand to new clients,” Royono explained.
Already, though, that existing client base is pushing Snapcart to expand across Asia and beyond into other parts of the world. The company is taking a planned and managed approach to ensure its service quality remains high, so don’t expand global moves just yet.
“Southeast Asia is going be our domain for now [but] demand is there whenever we talk to clients,” Royono said. “Latin America and Africa is where they feel there’s a gap in consumer data. But’s complicated to think about those markets right now.”
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