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Upside Gives Retailers Ability To Personalize Cash-Back Incentives


The app from Washington, D.C.-based technology company Upside rewards cash back to users through partnerships with retailers. The scope of its services includes all aspects of retail, but the grocery industry in particular has used it to draw customers through the doors.

“What’s unique about Upside is we work directly with the retailer,” said Tyler Renaghan, VP of retail. “In this inflationary time, retailers are seeing customers trade down. They’re seeing customers change their shopping behavior by going into a different store. It’s nearly impossible to have a one-size-fits all approach to keep those customers, let alone get new customers in the door. 

“The Upside offering is giving retailers the ability to personalize cash-back incentives. Customers’ needs are to stretch their dollar and retailers need to do that in a personalized way.”

Personalization helps propel customer traffic, but Renaghan is most proud of the Upside team’s ability to prioritize the user experience. The app regularly achieves top 10 in the iOS and Android stores, especially in the travel app category. It also has integrations with Uber, Lyft and Instacart. 


“In addition to powering our own app, we also power the Uber Driver app,” Renaghan said. “So if an Uber driver is driving, wants to hit pause and needs to get some gas right there – natively within the Uber app, again prioritizing customer experience – they can claim an offer and earn cash back right there.”

On the other side, Upside users will open the app and see cash-back offers for gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores and other retail outlets. 

“You claim that offer, you go in and you do your grocery shopping like normal,” he explained. “But then behind the scenes, we’re doing the matching to make sure that we can attribute that shop. Then we give you the cash back in your Upside app. 

“It’s cash – it’s not points, it’s no funny money. It’s actual cash you can transfer out to your bank account, or you can purchase a digital gift card right there.”

These changes in customer behavior are forcing retailers to adapt quickly and implement technology that was previously considered “inoperable,” according to Renaghan. 

“Upside is seeing the need to prove to [retailers] that this behavior that we’re driving – that we’re incentivizing – is driving incremental business and profit.”

Upside has ventures across the retail space, but it has seen tremendous growth within retail grocery. Just over the past year, it has experienced an increase of 240 percent in new customers in grocery. This is across its nearly 30-million customer base, Renaghan said. 


Retailers can also choose to integrate Upside’s cash-back services into their own apps. Renaghan sees it used most often with grocers that have fueling locations.

The interview for this article took place during Groceryshop 2022 in Las Vegas. During that conference, Upside CEO Alex Kinnier gave a presentation on personalization, which Renaghan described as “the biggest focal point for retailers right now.” 

“Retailers sit on mountains of data and often don’t know what to do with it,” Renaghan explained. “We take the data they already have – things like past purchase history, how frequently have you gone, how much do you typically spend. And we use that with the data we see from our customers using our app to create these one-to-one, cash-back incentives.

“If we both open the app and you’ve been to that store and I haven’t, I’d see a 6 percent cash back and you’d see 3 percent. Because we know it might take a little bit more to get me to go in.

“Our machine learning algorithm is constantly figuring out what is the smallest amount of cash-back offer for that customer so that we can maximize profits for the retailer.”

To read Upside’s recent sponsored content on The Shelby Report, click here.

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