To emerge victorious in today’s cut-throat world of business, retailers need to provide customers with all of the information they desire right at their fingertips, such as real-time store and online inventory, product catalogs, recommendations and alternatives, looks and marketing content.
Today’s entrepreneurs and startups are using digital solutions in their physical stores, thereby improving customers’ experiences and ensuring good footfall. Mercaux, a start-up based in London, is one such company helping retailers to achieve this goal.
Mercaux is a mobile retail platform that enables a cutting-edge, digital, in-store experience by providing customers with apps. By bringing the benefits of digital into physical stores, Mercaux is helping to improve retailers’ sales and effectiveness, ensuring that customers have a seamless shopping journey across both offline and online channels.
“Modern customers got used to the convenience that e-commerce brings, and when entering retail stores they come in search of a delightful physical experience that blends the convenience of purchasing online with the human element of shopping in store,” says Mercaux’s co-founder and CEO, Olga Kotsur. “Those who come to buy in store, come to explore, seek inspiration and guidance, and expect a superior customer experience.”
How to empower physical stores
There is a dire need to offer an in-store digital platform for retailers with a focus on empowering sales people.
“In those circumstances the role of sales people becomes increasingly important and empowering sales people with real-time inventory data, product suggestions, and inspirational content at fingertips is crucial for the success of any offline retailer,” Kotsur adds.
Earlier, on May 6 and 7, Mercaux took part in a Global Start-up Bootcamp in Abu Dhabi, a precursor to arab luxury world, the conference on the business of luxury in the Middle East, that was held in Dubai on May 7 and 8. This event was sponsored by TAG Heuer and Chalhoub Group and saw professionals from the world of luxury, retail, arts and branding, converge to discuss the future of luxury. As part of the Bootcamp, Mercaux presented its company before 600-plus professionals.
Timing is critical
The timing of a company’s launch is crucial for its success.
“Being ahead of the time results in a lack of market interest and support, or complexity of integrations; launching it later might mean losing out to competitors or in-house built solutions. During the first two years, we only focused on listening to market needs and building the scalable and flexible platform,” Kotsur says.
“In b2b, one of the most challenging aspects is to make the solution easy to integrate and to support, while keeping the functional and design flexibility. From day one, we made the decision to build one single platform, in “lego” blocks – with a rich set of configurations. We need to keep in mind that customizations, not configurations, kill the software businesses, making it costly for the client and not scalable for the company.”
Innovation key to success
Innovation is necessary for all businesses. In fact, following the path of innovation, while keeping customers’ needs in mind, could be the best formula to attain success.
“Innovation can be in both ‘what you do’ and ‘how you do it’. Always listen to your customer as much as you can, but also be aware they can be biased. You should be ahead of them, so ask not what they want, but what problems they have, and then find the solution – better one than they might have in mind,” says Kotsur. “Don’t be a ‘perfectionist’, be ready for a certain degree of mistakes.”
The increasing role of digital in business is not going unnoticed with Kotsur. In fact, it’s at the heart of the company.
“In our case, it (technology) touches everything we do and, most importantly, we are helping the traditional retail industry to digitize itself. I am still intrigued how technologies can disrupt traditional businesses, so in ten years hopefully we will see various sectors – from healthcare to government services – affected by data, automation and technology.
Technology – ‘threat’ or ‘opportunity’
Although technology is helping various startups to spruce up their functions and cut down on various costs, there is still one school of thought that considers it a threat. Mercaux is working hard to change this perception.
“Our team is helping to change the perception of ‘technology being a threat’ into ‘technology is a great opportunity’ via amazing product, great customer care and genuine passion of the team. It’s a great feeling to see how the daily job of sales people becomes easier through the right use of technology. Everyone wants to excel; we just need to give them the right tools for that.”