It seems too good to be true…
As a GetUpside user, it might all seem like, well, upside. You buy gas that you were already going to buy, and GetUpside gives you 25 cents, 40 cents, or even more back per gallon. What gives? Where is the money coming from — and how does the company make money after paying you?
Here’s the business model straight from the horse’s mouth (the GetUpside FAQ):
GetUpside has profit-sharing arrangements with our merchants. When you claim an offer on GetUpside and make your purchase, you get what you want (gas, food, etc), and the merchant gets what they want – more customers and sales! GetUpside then takes a fee from each incremental transaction we bring to the merchant, so we only get paid when both you and the merchant are happy.
The company’s business model is complex, but most of their revenue comes from two sources: commissions and merchant services.
You, the consumer, have a choice when it comes to selecting fuel. You may gravitate toward the gas station that’s closest to your exit on the way to work; you may have a soft spot for the Shell with the papier-mâché dinosaur on the roof; or you may just look for the lowest sign price.
When you open the GetUpside app, you’ll see the best offer available on gas in your area, and when you make your choice — say, the 76 on 76th street — the gas station will pay GetUpside a commission on your transaction. They’ll pass on some of that cash to you, but GetUpside will keep the rest.
This may not surprise you, but GetUpside is collecting a huge amount of data on its users. Everything from a customer’s purchase behaviors to price sensitivity to driving habits is tracked in the app. Even the gas you don’t buy is carefully noted by the company’s number-crunching algorithms.
Armed with this data, GetUpside can provide merchants with insights they’d never get from their brick-and-mortar POS systems. This data is a hugely valuable commodity, and people are willing to pay for it.
Data, data, data
We live in an era where our online lives are tracked and dissected by thousands of companies, from Google to Amazon and more. But these companies have long struggled to track purchases that happen in our offline world. When you buy pet food or prescription drugs or gas in the real world, those purchases are largely untracked — but companies are aching for the data.
GetUpside’s service gives the company a snapshot of some of these offline purchases, and they’re sitting on a goldmine of customer data. Somewhere down the road, this data can be used to serve targeted offers and advertisements to its users. Ka-ching!