Austin’s Shelfbucks raises $2.1M, brings brick & mortar into 21st Century

by Kate Rosow Chrisman
October 20, 2014

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Shopping for discounts just got a whole lot easier. Today, Austin-based Shelfbucks announced an agreement with Menasha Packaging that will help redefine in-store marketing and allow customers to easily access deals, discounts and information about products. The announcement comes just days after Shelfbucks raised $2.1 million of a $10 million financing round, according to documents filed with the SEC.

Using Shelfbucks is like having a constantly updating coupon book in your hand that knows your preferences and can provide reviews. During a shopping trip, users look for a Shelfbucks sign, tap their phone on the display and find special deals or discounts. Customers only get information when they are actively looking for a product, instead of being spammed offers they don't want or need. The company uses iBeacon, BLE and Bluetooth Smart Beacons to communicate with customer’s smartphones.   

Brick and Mortar goes 21st Century

While many tech companies focus on e-commerce, CEO Erik McMillian told an audience last year that 90 percent of retail revenue still comes from brick and mortar stores. Having discounts and incentives that work in real-time in a physical location is key to driving more sales and increasing customer satisfaction, but there wasn’t much activity in the space.

Shelfbucks filled that gap. Their product allows brands to use real-time data to influence purchases. Stores don’t need to spend months designing campaigns or spend money on printed coupons and hope their target audience happens to need shampoo, baseball gloves or whatever product they are pushing that month. Instead, Shelfbucks allows brands and retailers to use real-time information from customers in their stores, looking at their products, to adjust their deals. Retailers get instant feedback and can use that data to optimize sales.

As a consumer, Shelfbucks customizes offers to give the best deals on the things consumers want now. Plus, the app shows users how much they saved, giving consumers a warm-fuzzy feeling after doling out cash for a purchase.

The partnership with Menasha means that “brands can finally realize the benefits of providing digital campaigns to shoppers in retail stores right at the POP display... and right at the moment of purchase decision! Our joint deployment of iBeacon-power displays is a genuine game changer for retailers and CPG manufacturers.," said McMillian.

According to the company, the product works without the privacy issues of mobile tracing or the downright annoyance of push notifications.

The Background for Innovation

CEO McMillian had a background building apps for different retailers attempting to improve customer engagement and provide data on customers. While those apps did have success, especially at Michaels craft store, McMillian realized brands didn’t have access to any of that information. Those experiences helped shape his vision for Shelfbucks. 

The new round of funding is another step toward personalizing and digitizing every retail shelf in America. 

Shelfbucks has 17 employees and will add another 11 by the end of the year, according to the Austin Business Journal.  

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