With the worst of the pandemic behind the U.S., consumers are flocking back to in-person consumption at restaurants and brands across the nation. However, businesses struggle to build relationships with their patrons in-stores and offline settings. Swapt, founded by Andrew Smith and Trevor Brown in April 2022, is a B2B SaaS technology powering businesses to connect with their customers in a personalized way using QR codes. The remote startup recently raised $550K in a pre-seed round led by Perkins Cove Partners, with participation from the co-founders of Klaviyo, Andrew Bialecki and Ed Hallen, and Asymmetric Capital Partners.
Swapt’s pre-seed round closed in August of this year. The founders plan to use the funding to “further develop the platform, create more advanced automations, and deeper analytics.” The startup competes against Flowcode and qrcodegenerator. Swapt makes money based on a usage basis, or based on the number of customers served using their technology.
Frederick Daso: As a greater share of retail occurs online, what opportunity opens up for the remaining in-person experiences that could turn customers into champions of the business?
Trevor Brown and Andrew Smith: We’re seeing a dramatic shift to offline mattering again. Offline events, experiences, and popups are back in style and working to represent brands in a positive light in more than just a qualitative way.
Brown and Smith: People are craving to connect in person, to be able to interact with products and brands they’re interested in, and to be part of those brands’ experiences. With Swapt, brands can provide personalized communication, incentives, and promotions based on a consumer’s current and historical interaction with the brand. As a consumer, I can now receive unique offers and communication based on # of visits, dollars spent, loyalty status with a brand, offline events attended, and any other parameters a brand wants to implement.
Daso: Before COVID, QR codes were heavily underused compared to now, an example being in restaurants. What has driven the trend toward QR codes?
Brown and Smith: The QR code trend in the West is not only driven by restaurants but mainly driven by the large advances in the technology that Apple and Android phones have unlocked for users.
The potential to scan a QR code without an app and to click on a QR code in a photo (a release from the last iOS update) has driven ease of use to a new level.
Companies and consumers realize that the easiest way to communicate online is through QR due to these new updates.
Daso: Traditionally, how have brands and businesses attempted to market to their current customer base and new demographics to expand into?
Brown and Smith: Currently, brands and businesses market to their current customer base solely by using email and SMS communications (SMS being a new, still tested channel), nothing for this exists in person. To expand into new demographics, brands purely rely on third-party data sources (meaning Instagram/Facebook/Google advertising) that consumers find “intrusive” because they listen to your speech, cross-track app usage, messages, and online searches.
With the update on iOS 14 that allows consumers to opt out of tracking, Facebook has lost over $400 billion GMV because they are not able to target and listen to the extent that they were allowed to before. The public has spoken; they want their privacy back.
Daso: What was the thought process for having Swapt QR codes as the foundation of the business’s promotional programs?
Brown and Smith: After a few years of Covid, online technology in the e-commerce realm has accelerated at an unpredictable pace. Loyalty, referrals, rewards, engagements, communications, and more have been created to make purchasing seamless and easy.
Swapt codes are the first branch of the offline world that can bridge the functionality of the online world to help businesses connect with their audience in person. QR codes provide the easiest and quickest ability for a consumer to engage with the brand in person.
Daso: How will Swapt help businesses build sophisticated operations around the offline data they collect on the startup’s QR platform?
Brown and Smith: Swapt makes personalized communication easy by merging online purchasing data, loyalty data, and offline event attendance available to customize experiences for brands when the person scans. The sophistication also lies in Swapt’s ability to communicate this data in an intelligible manner to a brand’s marketing, CRM, or data platform.
Using the user’s device ID, Swapt can easily make lookups to determine the person’s interaction and historical interaction with a brand and personalize that experience for the individual in real time.
Written by Xodas.