First you take something people really enjoy: shopping. Then you combine that with more things people enjoy, like sports and betting. If people make the right bets, you give them all their money back on the purchases they made earlier while shopping. If not, you still give them a little something for having played. It sounds like one of the most fun games in the world, and Czech startup RedCrox has turned into a business that not just attracts shoppers, but also gives retailers a way to study their users and gain a competitive edge.
CEO Stephen Flanagan says the startup has been a long time in the making. “I have been working with the idea of creating the ‘ultimate game,’ where both sides win, ever since I started my entrepreneurial life more than 20 years ago,” explains Flanagan. The two sides in this case, of course, are retail businesses and consumers; RedCrox caters to those involved on both sides of a purchase.
For consumers, the appeal is obvious: incentivized shopping combined with no-risk betting. The process starts when a shopper makes a purchase through a RedCrox partner. There are over a hundred partners at the moment, including Amazon, Bata, Urban Outfitters, Qatar Airways, GAP, Alibaba, and Alo Diamonds. After the purchase is made, users upload a scan of the receipt to a RedCrox account so it can be verified.
Once the receipt is validated, users can go ahead and make a prediction on a sporting event–a bet without any cash on the line. Bets can be made on a wide range of events, including Champions League football, Formula One, MotoGP, NBA, NHL, and NFL games. You can also place bets on competitions not of the sporting kind, such as The X Factor, Miss Worlds, and even the elections (probably not a good idea to be too sure of election results, though).
If the stars align and your pick comes through, RedCrox initiates a 100 percent cashback equal to the value of the receipt that was uploaded. But even when predictions fail, RedCrox rewards players with discount certificates; it’s part of their ‘everyone wins’ philosophy. “We create a precedent in the E-commerce world by making every purchase a playground where everyone wins cash or a discount,” Flanagan says. One user received the value of her car back on a bet, so there is apparently a very real upside to playing RedCrox’s risk-free betting game.
Over on the B2B side of things, the startup gives retailers a novel way to attract customers. It works like an affiliate program; RedCrox gets a commission from its partners on every transaction that it facilitates either offline or online. That way, consumers don’t actually wager anything on their bets (since RedCrox’s revenue source is commissions on referrals and not money placed on bets), but have an additional reason to make purchases from some very specific vendors.
Along with that, RedCrox generates insights from its AI-based data mining software available to their partners. The software creates user profiles and studies consumer behavior, which can be leveraged by retailers to understand their demographics better and better tailor their marketing efforts. Flanagan says he believes that the data gives its retail partners a very real competitive advantage in a very competitive market.
The startup has launched in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. While they roll out operations in those locations, they’re also eyeing international expansion in the USA. An equity crowdfunding campaign on FundLift has been initiated to raise capital towards the American launch. “Before going to the largest markets in the world, a local limited crowdfunding teaches us how to market better,” explains Flanaga, “and points at some improvements we need to make before approaching highly competitive startup ecosystems as the ones in the US, UK, India, and Southeast Asia.” So far the campaign has raised almost 30% of its goal and with a little more than a month remaining.
While the equity crowdfunding campaign gathers steam, the team is working on building more robust software features. “We call them RoboCrox, a set of self-learning machines which will become your personal shopping assistant and guide you through hundreds of sports events worldwide,” Flanagan says of bots the startup is developing. Also on the cards is more widespread expansion. “In 2017, we would like to launch full operations in 6-7 new territories, including North America, Southeast Asia, Australia, and India,” he says. I guess we’ll see if that turns out to be one of the company’s smarter bets.
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Christopher Nicholson says
Cashback is always good! Shopping at stores that are on the website that I normally shop at anyways is a no-brainer. I love Redcox.
Daniel Hall says
The first thing I wanted to do was look into the website and see how everything worked based on your article. I really like the fact that you can log in quickly through a social network. I don’t need another password to remember 🙂 So far, so good. I am registering and I really like what I see.
Seth Sargent says
Its a great idea on paper. I am sure the beta testing went well, but what are the retailers getting out of this? I am curious about that now.
Lesley Salley says
I am wondering the same thing. I shop at amazon, upload my reciept, place a bet and win, I get my money back. I do not see the IN for the retailer. Working as an affiliate program is a good idea, but there have been cons to that as well in terms of marketing.
Leslie Paschall says
Affiliate programs are known for getting good traffic to your company. I would be willing to give it a try until it seem like I am trying to hard to win.
Michel Smith says
It’s good for the retailers to be part of RedCrox because a buyer will choose to shop at “Amazon” then another store that’s not part of RedCrox because the buyers know through amazon they have the chance to upload the receipt and win 100% Cashback with RedCrox. Basically becoming a powerful marketing tool for the retailers to promote as well to their customers. The retailers are only paying RedCrox commission for driving the customer to their website and shopping. So its a win-win situation for all.
Allen Coriell says
I am sold. I think it is worth a shot and when I am just going to toss a receipt aside anyways, maybe I can get a little back for it. Thanks for sharing this!
Kim Roberts says
A gaming toothbrush, really!? I am right behind you and where do I send my money?
Jamie Redondo says
A very cleaver way to get a hold of consumers and what they are buying from where. There is a lot of good information on receipts and other companies know this. So what if the company will pay you back if you win, that’s your gamble, that receipt information is already sold to another company for mining purposes.