Slowly but surely, the cashback revolution is taking hold and, with times being as they are, it’s hardly surprising. Getting a little something back for shopping online can only be a good thing but many people don’t quite understand how cashback works and, despite the increasing prominence of companies such as Quidco, some remain sceptical. Why would any online store give a customer seemingly free money back after a purchase, after all?

The answer is in the process, of course, and the presence of a third party, otherwise known as a ‘cashback portal’. The cashback portal acts as a commercial middleman, offering the customer a range of exclusive deals on behalf of stores, who they recover their fee from and deliver a cut of this back to the original customer. It’s easier than it sounds, and consumers can take advantage of this neat trick via an app or through an online browser, just as easily as they would when shopping online in a regular manner.

Shoreditch High Street meets Old Street” (CC BY 2.0) by psigrist

In theory, everyone is a winner here, with the customer making savings and the online store raking in a windfall that may well not have materialised without the helping hand of the cashback portal. With an increasing number of stores making the move online, it’s perhaps the latest trend that represents a shift away from high street shopping but, in pure business language, it makes sense.

The number of stores and service providers signing up to these cashback portals is on the rise, too, including a host of recognisable names in Shoreditch and beyond. It’s not just an idea aimed at high street retailers, either, with smaller local names such as independent London footwear retailer Tower London and Keynoir also signing up to cashback portals.

Quidco is the leading cashback portal in the UK, with 7 million users having signed up since 2005 and over £400m shared in cashback. Users can be paid in cash, straight to their account, or via PayPal or in Amazon gift vouchers.

Cashback is a phenomenon that has stretched not only to retail, of course, and a number of other competitive consumer markets have begun offering cashback incentives, with the likes of uSwitch doing so on utility bills. Online gambling is another such industry that has gone ‘all in’ on cashback, too, with Gambling Deals acting as a cashback portal between online gamers and recognisable online gambling names such as BetVictor, Betfred, and Mecca, often awarding gamers the double-whammy of an initial saving and a percentage kickback on losses.

Shoreditch” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Mike Knell

For visitors to London, popular Shoreditch boutique hotel The Montcalm is currently offering a generous 10.5% cashback offer for TopCashback users, as from time to time has the Crowne Plaza. For those planning to stay a little longer, a similar scheme is in place through student accommodation cashback portal iQ, who offer up to £400 cashback a year for long-term dwellings.

There’s something lovely about a wander down Shoreditch high street but, for shoppers who value, well, value ahead of the shopping experience, cashback sites would provide a way to make those high street savings from the comfort of your living room. Popular Shoreditch stores such as Adidas, TOPMAN and Moss Bros offer cashback deals for new customers, and you’d be surprised how wide and varied the potential savings and participating retailers are.

With retailers, shoppers, and cashback portals all winning financially from each deal, it could be that the cashback revolution continues to go from strength to strength. What that means for Shoreditch high street remains to be seen.