The Supply Side: Ibotta recruiting suppliers, retailers to mobile rewards app

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 983 views 

Denver-based consumer technology startup Ibotta recently set up shop in Northwest Arkansas to try and grow the company’s client list, which already includes dozens of product suppliers and most retailers across the country.

Ibotta was launched in 2012 and is a rewards program that pays consumers cash back when activating coupons from product suppliers and making purchases from retail partners such as Wal-Mart Stores, Whole Foods and Target.

Tim Argenas, director of client partnerships for Ibotta, told Talk Business & Politics he recently relocated to the region from the Denver headquarters. He said the mobile app known as Ibotta has already been downloaded by more than 24 million consumers, and the company has paid out more than $243 million in cash rewards since inception.

Consumers download the mobile app, and before they go shopping can bring up featured retailers and see what rebates are possible. For instance, at Wal-Mart a $1 rebate is available from Purex Laundry Detergent of any size or variety. To get the rebate, a consumer must engage with the app. In this instance they are required to watch a 30-second video promo. Once that is done, they qualify for the rebate when the item is purchased.

After purchase, the user takes a photo of their receipt with the camera activated through the app. Within 48 hours, the purchase is verified and the cash is loaded into the customer’s Ibotta account. Cash can be transferred out via PayPal or Venmo to a checking account. Gift cards are also available.

Argenas said unlike Ebates, an Ibotta competitor which is based solely on e-commerce purchases, Ibotta can be used anywhere mobile commerce takes place. He said users can earn cash back on grocery purchases, hotel stays and iTunes downloads, as well as medicine purchased at CVS or Walgreens.

Suppliers such as Clorox, Nestle, Tyson Foods, Pillsbury, CoverGirl, Del Monte, Clif Bar and Gildan are some of the suppliers offering rebates for items purchased at Wa-Mart.

The retail giant also offered a limited rebate on bananas, its private brand salsa “Fresh Cravings” and branded spirits such as Smirnoff Vodka and Captain Morgan Rum. In each case, to get the cash back, consumers are given additional content on the product either a short video promo, or photo with bullet points. That provides suppliers an opportunity to educate consumers on various aspects of the product.

In the age of product transparency, consumers are craving more information about the products they buy and use. The Ibotta app is a way for suppliers to present content via mobile app, which is now used to start $1 trillion of sales which are completed in stores.

Ibotta tells suppliers and retailers 75% of its user base is under the age of 35. The age demographic spends an average of four minutes in-app per session. That allows suppliers time to convey seasonal messaging as well as poll or ask users to rate their product. The app also allows suppliers to connect mobile and digital to item-level purchases, and only pay when the media results in a verified sale.

Retailers that participate in Ibotta can understand how various media content is driving in-store sales, down to the age, gender and geo-location, the company said. Argenas said, and 15 other retailers signed on to provide up to 20% cash back on select mobile shopping offers between Nov. 3 and Nov. 6. He said as the holiday shopping season approaches, there will likely be similar special promotions.
Editor’s note: The Supply Side section of Talk Business & Politics focuses on the companies, organizations, issues and individuals engaged in providing products and services to retailers. The Supply Side is managed by Talk Business & Politics and sponsored by Propak Logistics.