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Indonesia’s Snapcart discovers data in receipts

June 09,2018
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Araya Hutasuwan, the co-founder and chief finance officer for Indonesia’s Snapcart, introduces the business and start-up scene in Southeast Asia at D.CAMP headquarters in Gangnam, southern Seoul, on May 16. [D.CAMP]
Data analysis of consumers’ behavior and purchasing patterns is becoming ever more important for brands in a world of mushrooming shopping experiences.

And while most market research firms rely on electronic cash machines for data, the Indonesian start-up Snapcart turned to receipts that users upload using its mobile app. In exchange, users are rewarded with “cashback,” meaning a portion of the purchase amount written on the receipt is credited to one’s account. If the deposit surpasses a certain level, you can withdraw it just like cash.

“They’re not vouchers but cash - we don’t want to incentivize consumers to buy at any [specific] retailer because we need to capture unbiased data based on your actual purchase behavior,” said Araya Hutasuwan, the co-founder and chief finance officer for the start-up, in a recent interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily.

The information collected from consumers adds up to detailed consumer reports and an online database. The start-up launched in 2015 but already has an impressive client portfolio of consumer product giants like Nestle, Unilever, L’Oreal, P&G and Johnson & Johnson.

Hutasuwan was invited last month to speak about Snapcart and the start-up scene in Southeast Asia at an event by D.CAMP, a non-profit for young entrepreneurs.

Southeast Asia has grown rapidly, but still has a relatively low penetration rate of internet users at 58 percent. But some of its start-ups have reached the unicorn stage, meaning they are worth more than $1 billion. Korea has no unicorns despite a stronger reputation for IT prowess and a much greater penetration rate of internet users.

One word that explains their success is localization - strategies that work well in one country may not work in another country.

“For us, offline shopping still contributes to 99 percent of all retail sales,” said Hutasuwan. “For groceries, the online share is tiny and it’s never going to grow that big because the margin is so small due to delivery costs and that type of business is concentrated in large cities.”

Hutasuwan pointed out that Indonesia, for example, has more than 1,000 islands, which makes it hard for retail chains to deliver.

The predecessors of Snapcart are market data firms like Nielsen and Kantar, which mainly collect data through manual records from individuals or purchasing information from electronic cash machines from retailers.

Their limits, according to Hutasuwan, are that their reports are not in real time and are not shopper-level, which means they show market share but fewer details on who the buyer is. She added that such data may be inaccurate because their source is mainly large retailers that agree to have their data used, which are often limited.

“In Singapore for example, market data firms receive sales data for cosmetics from several large retailers but not from department stores or boutique stores.”

Snapcart’s business doesn’t require agreements with retailers because they glean information from receipts. It currently holds information on more than 10,500 retailers in four countries.

Receipts also offer information about consumers: what and how much a consumer bought at which time and place, using which payment method.

Snapcart currently does business in Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Brazil.

“Our goal would be to dominate the entire world,” said Hutasuwan, “Brazil is a good opportunity to test our ability to operate outside [Asia].”


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]