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Major Takeaways:

  • Andre Hordagoda and Aman Khurana are friends for 25 years, and founders of the startup GoInStore, which leverages wearable technology to create a direct communication channel between online shoppers and in-store product experts.
  • Instead of partnering with Google Glass, the pair decided to patner with Epson, which has created wearable devices as part of a broader diversification strategy.
  • 2 clients who are using GoInStore, Amari Supercars and Dawson’s Music, have already reported success from using the technology.
  • GoInStore has a six-month funding runway thanks to revenues and founder-investments, but they are seeking a much larger investment as the customer base and company itself expands.

From the article at Forbes:

Andre Hordagoda and Aman Khurana are technology industry veterans who have spent the bulk of their careers working with major international clients, looking at how personalising the online shopping experience can help move the needle and increase conversion rates for customers shopping online. I caught up with them a few days before they head out to MobileWorld Congress, where they have been shortlisted for Best Use of Mobile for Retail, Brands & Commerce.

Their start-up GoInStore certainly has the wow! factor – it creates a direct communication channel between online shoppers and in-store product experts by leveraging wearable technology or other mobile devices. In other words, the sales assistant wears a head mounted camera, and talks you through the product as you direct them around the store….

…“The software we provide to go with the wearables or devices is just as key a component – if anything it’s more important. First of all, our algorithm knows what a store has in stock and if the product isn’t available then the GoInStore button becomes invisible. There’s nothing more irritating than being shown a product and then informed you can’t buy it because it’s not in stock. The algorithm also studies the customer’s browsing activity and is able to match them with the most appropriate available store assistant – someone who has expertise in that area. And finally it tells the store assistant who is calling and what they are interested in – it’s a virtuous circle.”

It’s another step on the path towards addressing the discrepancy between shopping in store – research shows that 20-30% people who pay a visit to a bricks and mortar store will make a purchase – and online, where the conversion rate has remained “steady” at around 2-3%  and the needle, despite marketer’s best efforts, stubbornly refuses to move.

Could GoInStore be the company that finally makes the breakthrough? According to Khurana and Hordagoda the early signs are encouraging. Two of the company’s flagship clients –  supercar specialist AMARI Supercars, based in the North of England, and Dawson’s Music – have been enthused by the product and the effect it has had on sales; Mark Taylor, MD at Dawson’s Music says the “end result is much greater synergy between the web and stores,” whilst, Hordagoda says, an AMARI salesman sold a BMW i8 the first time he put the headwear on. “The client was in London, the store is in Preston, and thankfully what the customer saw persuaded them not to wait and make the purchase elsewhere.”

GoInStore have added another five clients to their roster; “the service suits the higher-end market where a customer wants to take their time and really understand everything about the product before they make a buying decision, but cannot physically be in the showroom or store”, Khurana explains. “This is the next best thing – in fact, it can be an even better solution.”

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The startup employs almost 100 people in offices at 24 Charles St. W. in downtown Kitchener.

Outside of the core e-commerce space there are more use cases. Guided tours, for example. Since Harry Potter affluent parents from all over the world have decided to educate their children at British boarding schools. Instead of taking two weeks (possibly their only two weeks, if they are based in the US) of holiday to do a functional tour of a school, the potential is there to settle down on the sofa with the family at home and let the tour guide do the walking and talking. Thanks to the tech you see exactly what they see (having tried the glasses out I can confirm the AR is a little woozy at first but you soon get used to it – you can even click through into the customer profile using an accompanying handheld device.) Khurana says the company are already in talks with “a famous university, one that attracts the majority of its students from overseas.”

Another bonus is that salespeople love the solution as it offers the potential for them to earn commission from the online channel, a channel they would previously view as a competitor or even a threat. In a world where research shows that just 8% of salespeople make 80% of sales, it’s vital for any store to attract the best salespeople they can, and salespeople just love new tech – anything that gives them a competitive advantage. “We find that most store assistants who try the solution can’t wait to tell their friends about it – there’s no better recommendation that word of mouth so the store becomes flooded with applications from top salespeople wanting to work there,” Hordagoda explains.

Will headset wearing sales people guiding online customers around stores become a common sight? Hordagoda and Khurana are thinking even beyond this – “we think the endgame could be stores that are open 24 hours a day – but not open to the public – you simply browse the website, click the GoInStore button and instantly connect to an agent in a a warehouse somewhere who is an expert in whatever you’re interested in. It’s a new kind of digital relationship that we are at the forefront of. The truth is nobody knows how far it can go or what shape it will take yet.”

Head out to Forbes to check out the full article.