• Tech startups helping retailers lure customers to stores

    You walk down a shopping street and your smartphone starts to buzz the Zara top you looked up the other day is available in your size and black colour with a 10% discount, at a store 500 metres away. Sounds like a shopping genie coming alive? It’s your smartphone doing the trick, helping brick-and-mortar retailers know your shopping pattern and preferences.

    A bunch of tech startups are helping them do it.

    Sensing the need for technology integration to stand a chance in competing with their online counterparts, offline retail stores are increasingly turning to partner with startups who provide such solutions.

    InteractionOne provides what it calls a proximity discovery platform that enables stores to talk to smartphones via beacons. A small piece of hardware that uses Bluetooth connection to communicate with digital devices, beacon helps in presence detection and pushes messages to user’s smartphone through an app.

    The app, called Mobmerry uses machine-learning algorithm to grasp user’s likes and preferences over time through their browsing patterns while also letting them add products to their wish list. Add location tracking to it and the next time the user is near a store, a notification on their phone pops up. Once the user enters the store, beacons mounted in the store detect the user’s presence and credits the user with walk-in points.

    “Retailers have started to see traction and are more willing to integrate technology in their stores,” said Krishna Prasad, cofounder of InteractionOne that piloted its first project based on IoT in Bengaluru on a high-end shopping street with 80 showrooms. For retailers, beacons inside the store also track the time that consumers spend looking at products, thus defining hot zones in the store. “If integrated with point of sale, it can also help merchants understand their customer’s pocket size, how frequently they shop and their buying patterns,” Prasad said. The company is now integrating its solution across the city and is in talks with 400 merchants to sign up with them in the next three months.

    In the battle of bricks versus clicks, the ecommerce players have always had an edge with consumer-facing technology driving traffic to their websites. Brickand-mortar retailers are now entering the tech space to woo consumers back to the showrooms.

    Experiential Design Lab is building interactive solutions for brand engagement. Its solution for retail stores includes an interactive digital experience for a user who walks into their store. The startup has also developed solutions for Asian Paints where consumers can walk into a store, select finishes and view them real-time on their home walls through virtualisation. 

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