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I’m constantly surprised at the cutely obvious names of some web services – finding a brand name that’s sublimely obvious but if successful is very likely to be as linguistically ubiquitous as ‘googling’ or ‘hoovering’. Shoeboxed may just well be one such brand – I wonder if in five years time, we’ll be ‘shoeboxing’? Infact, most of us probably already are…
Launched around a year ago, Shoeboxed provides a simple service for uploading, storing and organizing all those paper receipts that are stuffed into real shoeboxes around our homes and offices, into over-sized wallets and purses, largely lost or disorganized until summoned by our accountants and tax authorities!
Shoeboxed encourages users to digitize their receipts with a scanner, before uploading the resultant image to the service. For those who don’t wish to spend their time scanning potentially hundreds of receipts, the company offers a mail-in program that is essentially a Netflix-style user experience; you mail in receipts, Shoeboxed scans and organizes; receipts are returned to you with an envelope for subsequent mail-ins.
What’s actually more useful than storing and archiving a receipt’s image, is what can be done with the related metadata. After all you could even use Flickr, Scrnshots or Skitch to privately store receipts. Shoeboxed will allow you to categorize, name, quantify and analyze your purchases. This data can be exported to other applications (Excel, Quicken) or as a report to understand your personal metrics.
The pricing plans seem reasonable, ranging from free to $60/month, though the basic package lacks the mail-in option, it’s a useful enough set of features. The high-end package is most likely quite valuable for workers generating several hundred receipts each month. In this case, the time spent on ordinarily organizing this could be converted back into billable time by outsourcing this activity to Shoeboxed.
To an extent, it’s difficult not to see Shoeboxed as a simply a great feature or product of a broader service. For example, Wesabe enables users to share and analyze their spending patterns; in this context adding Shoeboxed-like features to Wesabe would be immensely valuable. Perhaps, Shoeboxed future includes more automated and crowdsourced analysis of your spending or indeed deeper integration (and maybe acquisition?) by broader financial web services and even encouraging integration with tax authorities in various countries.
In the meantime, Shoeboxed’s basic mail-in plan appears to be a useful and valuable starting point to experiment with – though international mail-in is supported, receipts aren’t returned but destroyed by the company.
For many web workers, it could provide a simple solution to an irritating problem.