“The biggest value is Troy Web’s willingness to work with you to create exactly what you want. They let you drive the car, but they won’t let you run into a guardrail.” - Heidi Knoblauch, Receipt HQ CEO & Founder
To create a minimum viable product (MVP) that makes it easier for the restaurant industry to manage credit card receipts and rapidly search and retrieve them in case of chargebacks. The MVP must also be able to gather analytics about customer spending and staff performance to provide restaurant owners with valuable data needed to efficiently run their businesses.
When Heidi Knoblauch opened Plumb Oyster Bar in her hometown of Troy, New York, she found that more than 90% of her customers paid with credit or debit cards. She also found herself facing a challenge experienced by restaurateurs the world over: physically storing 18 months worth of paper credit-card receipts.
Each credit- and debit-card payment generates a receipt restaurants are required to keep for a year and a half in the event of a chargeback—a reversal of the original payment due to a customer contesting a charge. That means storing thousands of paper receipts and being able to commit the time to retrieve receipts necessary to defend chargebacks.
In an attempt to manage the growing paper pile, Knoblauch began scanning her receipts. Then she added a little programming. She then realized she was starting to assemble some valuable data her point-of-sale system did not give her.
“Heidi recognized an opportunity rather than a problem,” says Chris Boyle, director of application development for Troy Web Consulting. “This system of storing and being able to retrieve receipts would not only help restaurants combat chargebacks, but save credit card companies a lot of money, as well.”
The project was divided into three main challenges:
1. Solve the paper problem and simplify chargeback challenges
Receipt HQ tasked Troy Web Consulting with building software that could scan and store as many as 1,000 physical receipts per restaurant per week. In addition, it had to allow those restaurants to be able to easily search their receipts using the last four numbers of their customer’s credit card.
2. Deliver helpful analytics based on a restaurant’s receipt data
The team at Receipt HQ wanted to be able to demonstrate two predefined analyses in time for MVP launch:
The count and dollar total of credit card sales per day/week/month, as well as the cumulative total over 18 months
Estimated fees paid versus a flat-rate fee for VISA, Mastercard and American Express
3. Test the software’s potential for advanced analytics
The team also wanted to explore whether or not the new software would be able to convert the text in receipt images to native text and create structured data for names, meals, server names and table numbers.
So Troy Web Consulting, together with Receipt HQ, got to work.
They planned and built successive production-ready software releases (iterations) of the MVP. Receipt HQ had the opportunity to review and provide feedback on each release, as well as re-prioritize work for subsequent releases.
“We used an agile, adaptive approach so the content and timing of software release could be planned collaboratively with Receipt HQ as the project progressed. A lot of our work was based on feedback from Receipt HQ and their customers,” Boyle explains. “No specific schedule or milestones were defined, although it was understood that fast time-to-market was imperative to get customers using the system in order to get feedback and validate key business assumptions.”
The project took a design and user-interface-centric approach. In six short weeks, Troy Web Consulting developed all of the software needed to retrieve receipts and designed a website for restaurants to search receipts.
“We were in constant communication with the team at Receipt HQ. We talked about priorities and modifications. It was a continual input and feedback loop so that Receipt HQ could be involved in the development process,” Boyle says. “We got the important things done and allowed her to change her mind as we progressed.”
The product is currently in testing phase, and early results are promising. The new site software can find any receipt in 20 seconds or less, a vast improvement over the time it takes to rummage through boxes and boxes of paper receipts.
Restaurants are the product’s initial target market, with initial features limited to basic search, quick retrieval and simple analytics. Heidi Knoblauch, CEO and founder of Receipt HQ, says the ultimate goal is to build a valuable company within 24-28 months, acquire a substantial customer base and sell the company to a major industry player.
She says she couldn’t be happier with the partnership with Troy Web Consulting.
“Working with Troy Web was awesome. Rather than just creating something for the now, Troy Web created something that can scale in the future,” Knoblauch says. “They built a stable and accessible back end that can retrieve a specific receipt at a moment’s notice within seconds.”