yReceipts: Scaling from small startup to global business

About yReceipts

Founded in 2009, yReceipts enables retailers from around the world to connect in-store customers with their purchases and online behaviour.

Industries: Retail
Location: United Kingdom

With a highly dynamic solution built on Google App Engine, yReceipts enables high-street retailers to identify in-store customers, leveraging Google services to scale from a startup to a global business.

Google Cloud Results

  • Scaled from startup to global business with managed services on Google App Engine
  • Enables access to brick-and-mortar retail data within 2.5 seconds of an in-store purchase
  • Rapidly delivers detailed logs and information for support tickets with Google BigQuery

Access to in-store retail data within 2.5 seconds

When a purchase is made online, retailers gather a wealth of information about customer preferences, behaviour, and activity and use that information to improve products, services, marketing, and customer satisfaction. But despite rapid growth in online retail, the great majority of transactions still take place in brick-and-mortar stores, as Alexander Kayser, CEO and co-founder of yReceipts, explains: “Large high-street retailers typically have 80% to 90% of their business in the physical world and between 10% and 20% online.

“Small retailers and large ones, processing several hundred million transactions a year in their stores often know next to nothing about the people walking in and out of their stores, buying their products, and spending money in the shops. There's a tremendous demand from retailers to understand who their in-store customers are.”

“Our first client was a t-shirt shop with one store and one till. Now, our largest client operates on four continents. With each client that we bring on board, we need to scale dynamically in real time, as many factors, including weather and peak trading, impact in-store sales and transaction volumes.”

Alexander Kayser, CEO and co-founder, yReceipts

Loyalty programs, typically incentivised with discounts and offers, can be expensive for retailers to run, which is why Alexander and his team created yReceipts, a light-touch, non-invasive and EPOS-agnostic licensed software application that enables retailers to identify in-store customers and their purchases. It streams data into a retailer’s digital ecosystem in real time, so they can measure in-store sales impact of digital ad spend, enhance their CRM database, enable offline product reviews, and add value to brick-and-mortar data.

When yReceipts was founded in 2009, this simple-sounding concept posed a major infrastructure challenge for the small startup team. “Our first client was a t-shirt shop with one store and one till,” recalls Alexander. “Now, our largest client operates on four continents. With each client that we bring on board, we need to scale dynamically in real time, as many factors, including weather and peak trading, impact in-store sales and transaction volumes.” Retailers experience strong fluctuations in traffic that can prove unpredictable, and the yReceipts app had to scale to match activity with a highly available platform.

“When we started out, the Google App Engine managed service was hugely appealing. We could build our product directly on the cloud, giving us much faster routes to market. It also meant we could focus on what we wanted to do and not worry about configuring servers in the back end,” says Alexander.

From startup to scale

Retail information from brick-and-mortar stores is geographically dispersed and subject to major fluctuations in volume, which can be hard to predict. “Our application had to be ready to sit on tens of thousands of tills around the world,” says Alexander. “So naturally, the first question was—where where do we process the data, and how?”

To do that, the yReceipts team chose Google App Engine. As a managed solution, it gave the team the time and space they needed to get their product off the ground, while its simple, automatic scaling made it a natural fit with the team’s expectations. “We didn't want to muck around with arranging servers,” says Alexander. “We wanted to start building our product immediately. Google App Engine didn’t just give us the fastest route to market, but its pricing system and scaling delivered a system that kept delivering right up to the present day.”

As the company grew, yReceipts incorporated more Google Cloud Platform products into its system, such as the Google App Engine Search API to enable natural language searches on transactions. yReceipts took advantage of the compatibility to remain agnostic from Google Cloud Platform, ready to connect fast to any customer CRM, services, or partners.

“Over the years, we’ve added to Google App Engine with Google BigQuery, Google Cloud DataStore, Google Data Studio, and other products, to build an environment very much intertwined with Google Cloud Platform. So, from how our application on the till connects to the cloud, to how data is passed on to other systems, interrogated, queried, and reported, it’s all part of one big system that’s easy for us to manage and run,” says Dawid Humbla, Lead Cloud Engineer, yReceipts.

Real-time retail data access

The introduction of Google BigQuery delivered major advantages to yReceipts and its clients. Because Google BigQuery enables ultra-fast querying of huge datasets, yReceipts could upgrade its support services, providing rapid answers to support tickets from its clients. “We connected our support system directly to Google BigQuery and Google App Engine,” says Dawid. “So when a support ticket comes in, it is immediately enhanced with all relevant logs and everything we have in Google BigQuery, so the support team has all the technical information ready at hand. That wasn’t possible before.”

“If one of our customers wants to know anything about the in-store retail customer and transactional data across the world Google BigQuery enables us to return results within seconds. Sometimes, we get asked if we could deliver actionable data within one month of purchase. The good news is that we do it within 2.5 seconds,” says Alexander.

“We trust Google to automatically scale to any need, both as we create new customers and as we process retail transactional data in real time throughout the day. Driven by in-store retail transaction volumes, we have hourly, daily, and weekly peaks in processing demand, across the globe. With Google Cloud Platform autoscaling and managed servers, we don't even have to think about them.”

Dawid Humbla, Lead Cloud Engineer, yReceipts

Budgeting made easy, pricing predictable

Thanks to clear Google Cloud Platform pricing, yReceipts keeps costs in check during rapid growth, including a reported five-digit increase in data volume in 18 months. “Optimizing Google Cloud Platform to keep our invoices down is so straightforward,” says Alexander. “We have a certain invoice level we meet every month and Google Cloud Platform allows us to make solid plans to meet it, so we’re not locked into anything.”

“We trust Google to automatically scale to any need, both as we create new customers and as we process retail transactional data in real time throughout the day, says Dawid. “Driven by in-store retail transaction volumes, we have hourly, daily, and weekly peaks in processing demand, across the globe. With Google Cloud Platform autoscaling and managed servers, we don't even have to think about them.”

Now with retailers using yReceipts on four continents, yReceipts is looking to use Google Data Studio to create a clear internal picture of its growing estate. At the same time, the same tools are being tested to help customers keep track of their own activity in a simple, visually appealing format.

“We anticipate continued high growth in the number of transactions we process through Google App Engine this year. It’s fantastic to rely on Google Cloud Platform, and to never need to discuss whether Google App Engine, Google DataStore, or Google BigQuery will be able to support our growth. It’s critical because, as a startup, the first few years were fairly flat. Then, when we hit our first bigger client, doors began opening fast. Throughout that expansion, Google Cloud Platform kept us in a very comfortable position where we didn't have to worry about the technicalities of scaling,” says Alexander. “Now we’re processing receipts in in 30 countries.”

About yReceipts

Founded in 2009, yReceipts enables retailers from around the world to connect in-store customers with their purchases and online behaviour.

Industries: Retail
Location: United Kingdom
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