Veryfi's camera tech is turning store receipts into valuable brand data

The company's AI-powered receipt capture tech is helping to power DTC loyalty programs.

A phone showing a Veryfi receipt.

Veryfi Lens is capturing long receipts. (Courtesy photo)

What’s the value of a receipt?

Usually, it’s the slip of paper that shoppers slide into a bag, only to be checked in the rare case of a discrepancy.

The data on that slip, however, should not be overlooked.

With loyalty programs, however, CPG brands are tapping what's in the receipts. By taking a picture of a receipt and submitting it through a website or app, shoppers receive a coupon or cash back.

As brands run more of these types of programs directly with consumers through standalone marketing or loyalty apps, these receipts can also offer insights about consumers. With that piece of paper, brands are not just getting the info that a product was purchased. They can also see specifics about the item, and other items that were purchased in the basket along with that item, some of which may have been from a competitor. They can also cross-check whether other items around it were on sale. The data can go a long way toward helping brands understand their business.

It’s data that Veryfi is providing access to with mobile capture technology that can be used within a retailer or CPG brand’s loyalty app.

“They need to be able to extract the data, they need to be able to generate insights from the data and then reimburse the end user,” said Veryfi CEO Ernest Semerda. “We provide technology to capture, the technology to extract and then they can generate insights. We give them data that is standardized that they can rely on, and it’s clean.”

Veryfi recently debuted enhanced capabilities for receipt capture through it software called Veryfi Lens. Comprised of a software development kit and OCR API, the tool contains a custom camera application that takes a picture of a receipt. Is it able to stitch together a long receipt into a single picture by running a phone over the length of a slip.

This powers the capture of data at the SKU level. Using AI, Veryfi can extract the info from the receipt and turn it into structured data in seconds. This is the real-time information that brands can then use to draw insights.

Addressing an issue that’s of top concern to brands running loyalty programs, Veryfi has fraud detection that uses image analysis to identify whether a receipt was doctored or duplicated.

Veryfi, which is based in Silicon Valley, was founded in 2016 by Semerda and Dmitry Birulia, who both previously worked at Coupons Inc. They’re engineers who built technology to transform unstructured data, and they are now applying it to receipt capture, among other markets. The company raised $12 million in Series A funding in 2021.

To Semerda, this time recalls the 2008 recession. At that point, brands and manufacturers were infusing funds into the market in an effort to boost business.

With the current macroeconomic challenges brought by a pandemic and inflation, he sees similar activity happening now.

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes,” he said.

Especially as shoppers return to in-store settings, loyalty programs are one way brands are incentivizing purchases with cash rewards. Where brands may have previously worked with third parties, the ability to go direct-to-consumer opens up opportunities to run loyalty program themselves. Companies like Veryfi provide the tech tools to help them perform functions quickly, accurately and securely, where they might have previously turned to bookkeepers.

Veryfi’s tools also collects the first-party data that brands prize. It’s also data that they wouldn’t otherwise receive from retailers.

“Data is the new oil,” said cofounder Birulia. “If brands want to make decisions about how to improve and how to be relevant to Gen-Z, they have to know their customer. To know their customer, the receipt is the perfect example of where they can get a wealth of data.”

With receipts from different retailers, brands can compare results across multiple point of sale locations, or even different retail businesses. The data can also help brands to adjust their approach based on what the data shows. With real-time data offered by Veryfi, they can adjust quickly. Rather than getting info once a month as many brands often do, Semerda likens what Veryfi enables to the driver of a car, who is always adjusting the steering wheel as they go.

“That’s much more powerful because you can see the business much more clearly than your competitor," he said. "That's the beauty of working directly with the brands and having technology that’s available in real time, giving that information so they can steer it.”

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