Q&A: GreenJinn's Giuseppe Licari
RTIH: Tell us about yourself and GreenJinn
Giuseppe Licari: I am CEO and Co-founder of GreenJinn together with Roberto Amerighi, the CFO. Recognising the steady growth of the couponing market within the UK, we moved from Italy to launch GreenJinn, the app that’s using artificial intelligence to create the next generation of mobile couponing.
GreenJinn is a free cashback app for both Android and iOS which helps grocery shoppers save money on everyday products, across nationwide supermarkets (currently available in Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose). The app gives users customised coupons at their fingertips; they simply choose their preferences, select coupons, purchase products from the supermarkets, and then send us a photo of the receipt to get cash back.
We’ve noticed that many existing systems for saving money are inefficient and time consuming for the users: offers are often irrelevant to them and are usually on obscure products. We plan to change the face of couponing to become simple, fast and useful using our AI powered technology. We’re the only cashback app in the UK that focuses on providing an entirely personalised user experience. We’re also the only app that’s driven by an aspiration to help users live healthier, avoiding offers on highly processed and junk foods wherever possible. We care about personal health, wellbeing and the environment. GreenJinn currently offers users coupons personalised to their preferences, and in the next months we will be improving our technology to fit shoppers’ habits even more.
RTIH: What has been the reaction from retailers and customers thus far?
GL: Customers have fallen in love with our app and they continue to spread the love by word of mouth to their families and friends. They appreciate the fast cashback and great customer support available, along with our intuitive use of technology. They also really like the fact that they can find coupons not only on branded products, but also on fresh products unique to supermarkets. We are continually listening to customers’ needs and developing helpful solutions, and will be implementing them over the upcoming months.
From the very beginning we have received many requests from our users that we expand our app to other supermarkets, which we’re doing, step by step. Since we started in October 2016, over 65,000 users have tried our app already. GreenJinn also serves as a one-to-one marketing tool for brands who often struggle to reach out to modern consumers through traditional marketing channels. We aim to provide them with unique insights into shopping patterns and trends, and a smart platform for detailed targeting of coupons. The brands are interested in our solutions, and we are currently co-creating the platform with them in order to incorporate their specific needs.
RTIH: What has been your biggest challenge/setback?
GL: We’re a small team, and as any startup we’re operating with limited resources. However, we see this as a positive because it is keeping us motivated and focused on reaching our goals. This attitude helped us a lot when winning over support from our first investors, as they could see the pride we have in our ambitious venture. Our idea and the initial prototypes were so convincing, that we managed to get several experienced investors onboard, who now also act as our advisors. We also recently successfully closed a crowdfunding campaign on Crowdcube, which was the result of the team rapidly pulling their resources within strict time limitations. It served as a crucial step in reaching out to our community, and yielded a staggering 111% of our original £600K target - £670k.
We are incredibly fortunate to have a flexible, committed, hard-working and agile team, so we have always managed to push forward together. Building our user base whilst simultaneously attracting brands is not a straightforward process, so we are continuously adjusting our strategy.
RTIH: What are the biggest challenges facing omnichannel retailers right now?
GL: One of the main challenges omnichannel retailers face is that of fragmented information. In order to deliver a smooth omnichannel experience, they need access to coherent customer data; their behaviour, preferences, shopping habits, etc. This sort of data helps them to craft effective promotions, increase current sales and also project future sales forecasts. Technology makes this process easier for online channels to utilise such data, however offline channels struggle to keep up. It is much more difficult to measure anything offline and the methods used are becoming obsolete, given the rise of consumer technology.
Shoppers don’t want to carry around loyalty cards or paper coupons (or simply forget about them) and increasingly rely more on their smart devices to help them compare prices and track down the best offers. They are also rarely loyal to one particular supermarket anymore; with busy lifestyles, they opt for what costs them the least amount of money, time and effort. This is of course subject to constant change. Consequently, shoppers are more reluctant to download a separate app or create a separate account for each shop they’re using.
That’s why we have produced an app that can be used at a multitude of supermarkets and can serve as a user’s digital companion to their everyday shopping, giving them some serious savings in terms of money (and time), as well as the freedom of choice. GreenJinn is an effective method for measuring those offline conversions.
RTIH: What's the best question about your company or the market asked of you recently by a.) an investor and b.) a customer?
Both investors and customers have asked us, “How do you differ from already well established companies and apps in this space?”
Firstly, it’s important to say that we’re a very customer-centric startup, which means we always take our users into account within every major step we take. Our app is built entirely around our users’ needs. A positive outcome of the crowdfunding campaign was gaining customer feedback to improve user experience, services and offers that are currently available to them. We believe that consulting customers should be an integrated part of all processes within the company.
We individuate from our competitors with our customised offers. Other cashback companies have offers that are the same for everyone, and users need to scroll through lots of coupons (that they’re often not interested in), which is quite time-consuming. Currently, the GreenJinn app allows users to select their preferences to ‘cut out’ the categories of coupons they are not interested in, facilitating a personalised experience in which they only receive coupons that are meaningful to them. We’re also working on taking the personalisation system to the next level in that the more often the app is used, the more readily available coupons fitting the users’ tastes and needs become.
Apart from that, we’ve noticed that other apps are quite effort consuming too: the process of submitting the receipt and validation is not always very straightforward and user-friendly. We’ve received a great amount of feedback from our users saying that our app is remarkably easy to use (easier than other apps) and we provide fast cashback, without charging out any fees. We recognise that our app is easier and more intuitive than others currently on the market.
Another important differentiator between ourselves and our competitors is the fact that we are the only cashback app that inspires our users to live healthier. We deeply believe it is essential that healthy products be readily available and affordable to everyone. This is why we are dedicated to offering coupons on healthier and everyday products. We even have coupons on fresh fruits, vegetables, and other similar products, which other apps almost never do. We also work with many influencers who prepare healthy and delicious recipes based on products you can find on GreenJinn coupons. This is because we know that our audience is becoming increasingly more interested in leading a healthy lifestyle, and we want to encourage their choice to buy healthier options.
It is clear that some already established cashback companies are stronger than us with their selection of affiliated supermarkets. We currently offer Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, as opposed to our competitors. However, we believe that with the support of our engaged user base we’ll be able to grow our business substantially, and achieve our ultimate goal of making GreenJinn available for every UK supermarket.
RTIH: What can we expect to see from GreenJinn over the next 12 months?
GL: In the next 12 months, we plan to grow the team, add more shops and brands, improve our proprietary technology (including our personalisation system) and extend our reach by investing into go-to-market strategies to increase the adoption of the app.