By Dan Rowinski / May 26, 2011 6:00 AM
A new online service launches today that can help consumers keep track of all purchases from any retailer that provides an electronic receipt. Project Slice provides a free application embedded into the new Yahoo Mail upgrade called “All My Purchases” will aggregate all electronic receipts, record purchase history over time track shipments.
The goal is to bring all of the disparate receipts from digital or physical goods that consumers buy into one simple location. This may not seem like much of an innovation at first glance but the ability to handle all kinds of data coming from different sources is a difficult technological challenge.
“The problem was how do you take all of this disparate information and put it into a semantic platform with a nomenclature that consumers can understand,” said CEO and co-founder Scott Brady. “The whole impetus behind the architecture comes from eight billion electronic receipts.”
The Project Slice team has been working for a year on this problem and just about every member of the 25-person company has some sort of engineering degree, including the managers. The engineers come from all over the place including former leaders at MySpace, AOL and Yahoo.
Next Generation Parsing Engine
“What we have created is a parsing engine,” said Brady. “What were are trying to do is take all this unstructured elements from across the consumer landscape and turn it into structured.”
The “All My Purchases” app will be the top app among featured services that are displayed the then new version of Yahoo Mail (above Flickr, Evite and Calendar). It can be integrated with Gmail with information seen through the Project Slice homepage, not embedded in the inbox like Yahoo. Mobile applications are expected as well.
It will be able to pull in information from more than 200 retailers to start, including digital retailers like the Android Market or iTunes. It will not only show receipts but be able to break down purchases into their most granular items as well.
Changing The Way Consumers Process Purchases
The project is similar to what Mint.com did when it was bought by Intuit. Project Slice is part of a trend to change how consumers pay for items and track their receipts and purchase history. Earlier this week payments startup Square announced a way to pay at physical merchants via smartphone and track purchase history at those merchants through the Square Card Case. Project Slice does not do payments but the aggregation of receipts and purchases from a particular retailer is similar.
It is an interesting project to be able to feed all receipts into one service as opposed to just stashing them in a folder in your inbox or forgetting about them entirely. It is not too far in the future when every retailer might provide electronic receipts, even grocery stores. Imagine the ability for a family to track all of its grocery purchases, item by item, through an entire year. There is value in that data to both consumers and Project Slice.
That, in turn, explains the $9.4 million in Series A funding Project Splice is receiving from some prominent sources, including Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s venture arm, Innovation Endeavors, DCM, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Mike Maples’ FloodGate, Michael Birch and Rich [sic] Thompson.