Do consumers or retailers really need a Shoeboxx?

11 June 2009

To file away under "brilliant idea, but it's never realistically going to happen, now is it?":

Shoeboxx is a well-intended attempt to create a digital database of all your receipts. No more dicking about with shoeboxes (aha!) full of paper come tax return day - they're all there, dated and cross-referenced in an online account. Wouldn't that be smashing? Of course it would, which is why it's never going to work.

The plan would be for consumers to carry a Shoeboxx card with them (it's gone wrong all ready) that can be swiped at the checkout of any retailer (and it's all over). The receipt is then sent to the customer's account (the likes of Apple stores already do something similar). The service would be free to retailers and consumers, and Shoeboxx would make their money by charging for enhanced services, such as tools that allow companies to use it for expenses.

You already know why it won't work; the technology has to be implemented in the majority of retailers otherwise it's pointless. Retailers won't clutter the checkouts with extra hardware or burden the staff with yet another process which complicates and lengthens the sales procedure unless there's significant public demand. But the public won't embrace the card unless it can be used in the majority of retailers, and so on and so forth.

The idea is a great one, but since most of us use plastic for the purchase we need receipts for, it could be better managed by an online service that aggregates statements direct from your debit and credit card accounts, that wouldn't need any physical hardware or additional plastic in your wallet.

Sorry Shoeboxx, we just don't see it happening.

[Retail Week]

TOPICS:   Tax

10 comments

  • Christopher
    >> You already know why it won’t work; the technology has to be implemented in the majority of >> retailers otherwise it’s pointless. their only hope - create a dece... oh wait i just read the last paragraph. you read my mind. or i read yours. anyways, i'll continue... ...cent service, get it working well, then license it out to the likes of HSBC, Visa, whoever, and get it working with your regular credit/debit card payments with records accessible through your card's provider/bank. except.... is that not what statements are for? hmm. ok...
  • bykergrove
    What Christopher said.
  • martyparty
    Now you see such a system already exists in specific niche markets. When a builder sends his lad down the merchants to grab a bag of sand with the company card the merchant (if set up) can flow all the VAT info with the card transaction via Visa in xml format and that way the builder doesnt have to worry about his idiot employee pouring coffe on the reciept or losing it. Council employees also can have similar. The acquiring banks hate it, because it is a mare to verify the contents of the xml,
  • Lumoruk
    They should have pitched their idea to Dragons Den first
  • rayyan
    This article is so negative you would think the writer is trying to do the same thing ! first of all you say its never going to work, then you say apple is already doing it ?! make up your mind! we don't know if the retailer is going to have to dd any hardware right now you should make assumptions. and how do you think one shoeboxx card is more inconvenient than hundreds of receipts does not make sense !? do you know what a nectar card is duh !? i think you are confused buddy make up your mind .... either love it or hate it !
  • Richard
    Bitter, bitter, bitter......You are a bitter man. Sorry for being direct , but i really think that this article makes no sense whatsoever. To be honest, i actually can't stop laughing. You must be really bored, bitter, and you most probably need to get laid...really badly.\ Anyway buddy, you seem to have a very contradictory mind, and if you really want any reader to take you seriously i very much suggest you take your head out of your ass, and see the light little pal My advice, is to change your website to bitter, unhappy, seriously envious.com "to file away under brilliant idea, but its never realistically happen"........make your mind up you confused little boy, and wake up,,,,, and smell the coffee. p.s u probably still havnt adapted to dvds, and cable cos ur just so damn stubborn. Go away, we no longer need pessimistic, negative bitter people, especially in a current society that needs to develop in a positive manner, with the use of innovative ideas that help everyday living Go and get laid little buddy
  • James
    LOL......wow that last poster really feels strongly about this doesnt he? Must really hate those paper receipts. Although I can sort of see his point. This article does seem overly negative. Dont see why having one extra card would be more inconvenient than hundreds of receipts. I would certainly chose an extra card if it means i dont have to try and save all those damn pieces of paper. That was a foolish point to make by the writer. Also he seems to assume that there is a huge cost involved on the retailers part and well that is just not an assumption that should be made without gathering more info. Admitedly the article in retail week doesnt go into much detail but it seems to me if implementation costs were very high then the founders of Shoeboxx would have discovered that fact very quickly. Either it is not as expensive as you are assuming or Shoeboxx will take the cost on themselves. Otherwise whats the point, im sure if you realised this then so did they, if not then they are not very smart..... In any case I think this is a fantastic idea and something that I would definitely use. I hope your wrong that it will never happen, it sort of has to happen, if you think about it everything else is digital so why not receipts? Would love to hear more about the extra features. From their website it looks like you will be able to do your taxes directly via shoeboxx, set budgeting alerts and other stuff like that. I would definitely want to try that out. Not sure how well it would work in practice but certainly the concept is amazing.
  • Paul S.
    ...and it's a warm welcome to our representatives from Shoeboxx, ladies and gentlemen. Rayyan / Richard / James - at least go to the effort of using a proxy so you don't all leave comments with near-identical IP addresses, eh lads? Sorry, but my points still stand. It is a brilliant idea, and it would be invaluable to some (not all) consumers. But for it to work, a Shoeboxx card has to be accepted EVERYWHERE, in every shop, otherwise the sole benefit of Shoeboxx to consumers - digitally capturing ALL receipts - simply falls apart. That card has to be accepted by every store in the country, otherwise the premise is unworkable. As far as I can see, the service doesn't provide an incentive to the retailer - it's doesn't provide a revenue stream, it doesn't increase footfall - which makes 100% saturation of all retailers unrealistic. And regardless of how the technology is implemented at the till, there's still the point that if it increases the average transaction time then retailers will be less interested. In my opinion, you understand. As for the consumers, I think James that you're making a huge, and largely incorrect assumption - that all consumers want to or need to keep all their receipts. The reality is that most shoppers keep them for some items, usually electronics and clothing. Of course plenty keep receipts to do their home accounts every month, but is that really the majority of consumers? The one group who would love it are those who are self-employed, and those involved in business expenses. I doubt that covers the majority of transactions in any country, but you need the majority of people to want this service, otherwise why would a retailer? So in conclusion, I'm very happy to stand by my points, but it's good to know you've read them. Of course, you may not be affiliated with the Showboxx in any way, but then it'll be the first time we've had three independent comments left by three individuals who are all in the same building. Cheers.
  • Hilal
    Hi Paul, First of all let me start by making it clear that whoever the previous posters were they certainly do not represent Shoeboxx. Nor are they associated with us in any way, shape or form. I saw your article because we check the net daily for any news associated with Shoeboxx, I like to go over the links on weekends, however I do not normally post or comment on blogs. In this case though I had to refute your claim that the posts were from us. It is a little odd that people would post comments from the same building, maybe they were colleagues who sent a link around? In any case it certainly wasn't us. One of the comments in particular is quite offensive and not something we would be a party to. Second, all your points are valid and they are all points we have considered. They are also all points we feel we can overcome. It is definitely a service that would need to be taken up by at least 70-80% of the hight st, that is the first thing we recognised. In terms of technology, hardware, software, etc. in the majority of cases the retailers will need no extra software or hardware and the Shoeboxx platform can work off of the existing systems in place. It works very similarly to the way a loyalty card works. This is something we have researched thoroughly; we spent almost a year speaking to some of the top POS (Point of Sale) experts in the UK. In some cases implementation costs will be close to zero, in other cases it will be minimal. The benefits to the retailer are many; For one they can market themselves as "green", something that most retailers are trying to do now and spend millions trying to achieve a greener image. This would essentially be a free way to improve retailers' green credentials. M&S for example just launched a new receipt paper that saves an extra 800 trees a year. I won’t get into the numbers but that is a minuscule figure compared to the number of trees they do actually consume. It also costs them more than a normal receipt, yet they are willing to spend the money to improve their image. A more direct benefit is that it saves money; thousands of receipts aggregated over hundreds of stores and millions of customers add up and a major high st retailer can save upwards of £2-300K per annum by reducing the number of receipts that they print. That is not even taking into account the costs associated with printing receipts (ink, maintenance, transportation, storage and disposal costs). All of these elements add up to a substantial cost to any retailer. Marketing is a further benefit; we allow retailers to reach their customers directly by advertising on their receipts (discreetly). They can also send special offers, digital coupons, warranties, etc all via Shoeboxx (obviously retailers can only do this on their own receipts). Receipt advertising has become a more popular form of advertising for retailers in recent years, we take this concept to a new level. There are also less obvious benefits like a reduction in identity theft and receipt fraud(a lot of it is perpetuated by discarded receipts) and our research has shown that Shoeboxx will actually reduce the average queue time not prolong it; It only takes a second to scan the bar code on a Shoeboxx card whereas a receipt can take several seconds to print (not to mention changing till rolls, maintenance, etc). We also plan to introduce Shoeboxx as a key fob and a laminated sticker you can put on your phone or even an existing card (for those who do not want another card). Indeed you are correct that Shoeboxx may not appeal to all consumers, not everybody will take to this type of system. For some people a receipt is insignificant, but our market research has indicated a strong enough demand for this to be viable. You were spot on when you said this would appeal most to the self-employed and that in itself is a good market. Within a few years almost 50% of the UK workforce will be self employed and the current economic downturn has caused a further increase in the number of self-employed. Shoeboxx also helps people to budget very carefully (via email/txt alerts) so this is something that is going to be beneficial in the current climate. Women of all ages represent one of our largest consumer bases; most women keep receipts even for inconsequential items, things they may never return. This is something that was highlighted in our market research. It is not really mentioned in the retail week article but we also plan to offer Shoeboxx to companies as an expense tool so that employees can use Shoeboxx to send receipts to their employers directly via their online account. This represents another large user base. One thing that our research indicated is that while some consumers may not need or demand a system like this at first, once it is in place they would use it as long as it is free (which it is). As you quite rightly pointed out though, we need a large majority of the retailers on board first. So we have to get it into as many retailers as possible as quickly as possible in order to make this work. Is it going to be a challenge? Most definitely, but big changes are always challenging and this is a huge change. The benefits to the retailer are there, we have identified and quantified them and so far the conversations we have had with many of the largest retailers have been very positive. We are planning to launch with at least 50-60% of high st retailers already on board and until we have 100% adoption users can scan and upload receipts from the non-participating stores. Email receipts can be sent directly to your Shoeboxx account using the free Shoeboxx email address you get when you sign up. So any retailer who already uses email receipts (incl all online retailers) are already Shoeboxx ready, all the user has to do is give them their Shoeboxx email instead of their personal email. I hope this gives you a better understanding of what we are trying to do and how we want to do it. If you still dont think it will work then fair enough, we appreciate all opinions and negative feedback only helps us to understand the hurdles we need to overcome..in fact if you think of any other potential problems please let us know. I will be sure to send you a Shoeboxx card once it launches :) See this is why I don't post on blogs....I end up writing essays!
  • Paul S.
    Hey Hilal, What a brilliant response. Complete respect to you for taking the time out of your weekend to reply. I'll highlight your response in a new post next week. I'm still not completely sold (I've had personal experience of loyalty card schemes and appreciate what fundamental problems they present) and )I think 50% - 60% penetration of retailers will still be difficult to achieve, but you're obviously aware of the challenge you face so best of luck to you. Paul

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