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电子财务小助手终结收据梦魇

Alex Konrad 2011年11月21日

尽管Slice和Lemon这两家公司的名字听起来更像是碳酸饮料,而不是走在行业前沿的IT先锋,但他们的目标是帮助人们解决收据带来的种种麻烦。

    现代收据真是种令人头痛的东西。它们令采购者自责不已,因为它们是冲动性购物的见证;同时,它们更是繁琐的报销流程中必不可少的内容。但是,将收据归档保存却是件棘手的麻烦事,如果不慎遗失,情形还会更糟糕。两家位于硅谷帕罗奥图的初创公司希望能解决上述麻烦。SliceLemon这两个名字也许听起来更像是出售碳酸饮料而非领先的IT产品的公司,但他们应用灵巧的软件解决了机打和电子收据中存在的种种问题。而且,两款软件完全是免费。

    Slice将保存在电子邮箱收件箱中的所有电子邮件收据汇集在一起。它主要是对电子邮件进行扫描,从中拣出收据、定单确认信、以及追踪号码。该服务还可以按收据中的时间和交付地点保存账单,同时还能追踪配送信息,在地图中将相应地点标注出来。如果用户最近采购的物品降价了,Slice也会通知用户,这样他们在下次采购时可以买得更划算。

    该公司于本周二刚刚发布了上述应用的手机版。公司首席执行官斯科特•布莱迪希望,此举能够推动该软件的应用。用户可以始终保持登录状态,一旦有包裹即将到达,便能随时收到通报(当然,他们也可以只在需要使用Slice软件时才登录,避免好打听的人破坏用户安排的意外惊喜。)现在,用户可将Slice作为独立的应用程序、在线应用、或者雅虎(Yahoo!)电子邮件中的内置功能来使用。据布莱迪介绍,Slice还能逐条记录每笔采购,目前,就算信用公司做不到这一点。

    该服务尤其适合经常进行网购的人,比如Gilt Groupe以及其他团购网站的用户。“对于经常进行大量在线采购的人而言,这是款了不起的工具,”布莱迪表示。他还指出,尽管如此,收据增加最为迅猛的领域却是苹果商店(Apple Store)等实体零售店,这些商店开始越来越多地以电子邮件的形式提供收据。

    机打发票就是另外一回事了。Lemon公司针对这个问题的解决办法是:利用其软件,用户可以给机打发票拍照,然后将电子照片在线保存起来,以出现在在线搜索的结果中。尽管给收据照相并非什么新鲜事,但Lemon的创新之处在于,将收据数字化,并建立全面的主清单。收据进行数字化处理之后,处理起来就像电子收据一样轻松了。

    这两家公司会形成竞争吗?有可能。Lemon首席执行官文西斯•卡萨尔斯坦承,有些消费者只愿意使用一种解决方案。(事实上,这两家公司的办公地点相距不足一个街区,而且双方的领导团队彼此都是朋友。)Slice主要有助于在线购物者,而Lemon则适合必须对自己的所有开支进行审慎管理的人,卡萨尔斯补充道。Slice表示,迄今该软件已处理了300万笔交易,而Lemon则号称目前已经拥有30万名用户,其中主要是iPhone和安卓手机用户。

    两家公司更为担心的也许是隐私和利润。二者均表示,为了确保系统的安全性,他们都下了很大的功夫,比如对交易信息进行加密。如果短时间内大量消费者开始采用其服务,那更大的挑战也会随之来临。届时两家公司有可能会设法利用软件生成的数据,以赚取更大的利润。目前,Lemon提供免费服务以及两个等级的付费使用服务。Slice目前可免费使用,但将来,它有可能向会员商户提供目标交易或者的部分信息。

    针对收集和管理收据方面存在的种种问题,两个服务都能提供直观的解决方案。现在,二者都瞄准了从感恩节到年末的假期购物狂潮。如果也存在收据处理的旺季的话,这段时间显然应该算一个。

    译者:大海

    The modern receipt is a sorry thing. Talismans of buyers' remorse, impulse decision-making and reimbursement migraine, receipts are bothersome to file and even worse to lose. Two Palo Alto startups want to fix that. Slice and Lemon may sound more like soft drinks than cutting-edge tech, but they use clever software to address the problems of both printed and electronic receipts. Both are free.

    Slice compiles all the electronic email receipts stored in your inbox. It essentially scans email to find receipts and order confirmations, picking up any tracking numbers along the way. The service keeps tabs on the timing and location of deliveries, mapping their location while en route. Slice also notifies users if recent purchases dropped in price, enabling them to potentially get a better deal.

    The company launched a phone app yesterday, which CEO Scott Brady expects to drive adoption. Users can remain logged in at all times to be alerted of impending package arrivals. (They can also log in with each use to avoid prying eyes that might spoil gift surprises.) Slice is now available as an app, online and as a built-in tab in Yahoo (YHOO) Mail. Slice can also itemize each purchase, something credit companies cannot track when they list spending, according to Brady.

    The service appears especially suited for high-volume online shoppers, such as Gilt Groupe enthusiasts and other daily deal users. "For people who order a lot online, it's a significant tool," he says. Brady notes that the fastest growing area for receipts, however, is through brick-and-mortar retailers such as Apple (AAPL) Stores, which are increasingly offering their receipts as email.

    Printed receipts are a different animal. Lemon tackles the problem by allowing users to take photos of receipts that are then stored and made searchable online. While photographing receipts is not new, Lemon's innovation is to digitize them to create a comprehensive master list. Once digitized, receipts can be dealt with as easily as email receipts.

    Will the two compete? Perhaps. Lemon CEO Wences Casares admits that some consumers will only be willing to use one solution. (In fact, Lemon and Slice work within a block of each other and the leadership teams consider each other friends.) Slice most benefits online shoppers, while Lemon works for those who must carefully monitor all expenses, he adds. Slice says it has processed 3 million transactions, while Lemon boasts 300,000 users, primarily using iPhones and Android phones.

    Privacy and profit may be the bigger concerns. Both companies say they take great pains to ensure security, encrypting transaction information for example. The bigger challenge will come if consumers begin rapidly adopting their services. The firms could then be tempted to find ways to use the data being generated to grow their profits. Currently, Lemon offers a free service as well as two levels of paid subscriptions. Slice is free but may offer targeted deals or limited information to affiliate merchants in the future.

    Both services appear to provide intuitive solutions to the hassle of monitoring receipts. Now, both will tackle the holiday shopping frenzy between Thanksgiving and the end of the year -- a busy season for receipts if there ever was one.

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