By Anusha Ashwin
In the past two years, Internet of Things (IoT) has taken the retail industry by storm. IoT has helped retailers in attaining enhanced customer experience and increased revenue and making shopping intelligent. Making a headstart into IoT deployment in India’s burgeoning retail sector is a Bengaluru-based digital publishing startup Interaction One that has launched Mobmerry.
Mobmerry is an online-to-offline (O2O) app that empowers consumers to discover lifestyle products based on their taste and preferences from brick and mortar stores in their city. The app connects retailers to consumers through product discovery, real-time notifications of new products, deals, and discounts in the consumers’ immediate area using Beacon technology.
Being a curious individual and passionate about new ideas on integrating and simplifying technology in daily life, Krishna Prasad, the brain behind Interaction One, quit Dentsu India Group to found his entrepreneurial venture in 2013. While setting up Dentsu’s Digital India business across Delhi, Bengaluru and Mumbai, Prasad perceived that there were gaps emerging between brick and mortar shops and online commerce websites. Between 2013 and 2015, Prasad worked on cracking the right technology for India’s retail industry. He discovered that by using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) applications, such as Beacons, an app can enable shoppers to discover and purchase lifestyle products from multiple offline retailers in an easy and friction-less manner.
Launched by Interaction One in June 2015, Mobmerry is an app that connects retailers with consumers, through the Internet of Things (IoT). With the use of Beacon technology, Mobmerry creates a significant connection between consumers and merchants. The app has the ability to use the consumer’s retail and dining likings to connect them to the merchant and begin a productive and fruitful conversation. Mobmerry enables smart discovery of products using preferences algorithm for consumers and a platform for retailers to connect to consumers via Beacons. Mobmerry sources its Beacon Technology from a Polish hardware company, Kontakt.io.
Prasad attributes his entrepreneurial debut to the large influx of smartphones in India. He believes that the convergence of the physical and digital world is considered to be the future of retail and smartphones are at the crux. In the same way that e-commerce brands use mouse tracking, heat mapping, engagement analysis and social media to assess shopping habits, physical stores are beginning to replicate such analysis with Beacons.
Retailers use Beacon technology to ping promotional messages to the customers’ smartphones when they are in the vicinity of the store. Shoppers on the other hand become aware of the promotions and discounts at their favorite stores. Further, retailers using beacon technology can gather data on how long consumers spend at certain locations, busiest days of the week, and number of people who walk into the location per day. This collated data helps retailers understand the pattern in shopping making their business more efficient.
“Today, one of the significant challenges facing the retail industry is store walk-ins. Mobmerry’s retail marketing platform is designed to exactly address this challenge. The platform with built-in business intelligence enables retailers to not only make their offline inventory discoverable online, but also to precisely target users based on their tastes and preferences,” says Prasad.
Prasad takes pride in deploying over 1000 beacons across Bengaluru city, making it one of the largest beacon deployments in India. With 30 stores onboarded in Indiranagar, Bengaluru, such as Aviraté, Celio, Guess, Jack & Jones, Kazo, Lee, Vans, Vero Moda, Wrangler to name a few. Mobmerry has also partnered with Virtuous Retail, an institutionally owned developer-operator of community-oriented premium Lifestyle Shopping Centers. The app will deploy over 300 Beacons across the center to enhance shopping experiences for VR Bengaluru’s patrons.
Bets big on proximity marketing platform
Prasad is bullish on next-gen proximity marketing platform. “The next-gen Proximity Marketing platform we are working on will empower the retail stores to outreach to targeted set of users around the stores with relevant promotions and offers, thus driving up store walk-ins and last mile conversions. Recently, we also launched Walk-in Cashback vouchers that our partner brands can leverage to drive store walk-ins and sales,” says Prasad.
Prasad’s company, currently, has a growing base of over 200,000 monthly active users across web and apps. “The feedback from our users is encouraging as we see over 60% coming back to the platform month-on-month. This is perhaps driven by the fact that Mobmerry is not another e-commerce player but a curated, retail discovery platform that lets brands target users based on their demographics, behaviours and past preferences,” indicates Prasad.
“Our clear strategy was to work with a set of retail brands in Bengaluru and be able to add value to these partners before scaling up. Last year, we started off in Bengaluru with a set of brands on the 100-ft road in Bengaluru’s Indiranagar, but today we have presence across the key shopping locations in the city, working with over 100 brands and 240 stores. We are already seeing demand from consumers outside Bengaluru, and our plan is to expand to other metros and major tier-1 cities over the next 6-12 months,” positively envisages Prasad.
Bright future ahead
In the months to come, Prasad will deploy the Beacon technology in wearables, which he believes will drive shopping and consumer engagement to the next level.
Although Prasad did not reveal the numbers on his company’s revenue generation, it was evident that Interaction One through Mobmerry is seeing a healthy month-on-month growth in its user base and transactions.
Prasad had earlier raised a seed/angel fund of $350,000 from SDSS Management Services and family and friends. In the next round, he would be specifically looking for strategic investors or companies that would contribute to the business apart from capital infusion. With a primary focus on Mobmerry and the technologies associated with shopping experiences including offline store experiences, Prasad will escalate his offerings to wearables and the aviation industry.