Throw together a supercut of politicians saying ‘unprecedented times’, your best (oldest) pair of track pants, and not being able to find loo roll or yeast at the supermarket: and you have the year 2020.
As those of us who are now on a first-name basis with the local postman will know, 2020 has been the year of online shopping. More than 1 million new households shopped online between March and September. And, Retail is racing toward the biggest peak in online shopping history this Christmas (Australia Post).
While no industry was exactly prepared for a global pandemic, it was bricks and mortar retail that really bore the brunt. Retailers have had to adapt to a (sorry!) new normal, and many have struggled to bridge the gap between bricks and mortar and the online shopping frontier. That’s where our retail technology players have come out guns blazing.
As we discovered through the Retail HackGames, many retailers are cautious about adopting a new tech solution. This has greatly hindered their adaptation to the post-pandemic world. Wariness from retailers has resulted in tech providers being tragically under-utilised. A fear that, when you look at this history of successful tech-transformations, makes about as much sense as panic-buying toilet paper!
So, we sat down for a chat with each tech provider to introduce them to you, the retailer. We gave them a problem statement about a vendor affected by the pandemic. We asked about their solution. And we sought advice on behalf of our eager retailers considering a new tech investment.
The first cab of the rank is Brauz.
Brauz offers seamless omnichannel retail experiences to help in-store retail grow and prosper. They offer three main solutions: retail appointments, reserving items in-store, and click-and-collect.
Problem Statement: Introducing Sandy.
Sandy owns a boutique retail store in Brighton, Melbourne, aimed at over-50’s. She also has an online store, but due to her demographic, this doesn’t get much business. Her client base prefers to shop in-store, as they like to try-on before they buy. Her customers adore Sandy’s warm and hands-on approach to styling and customer service.
Sandy has lost considerable business due to COVID hygiene restrictions and has had to reduce the number of people in-store and make changes to her customer service approach. The customers that do shop online lament the lack of personalisation.
Sandy’s main concerns throughout 2020 have included:
- Unstable foot traffic into her store
- Unpredictable revenue streams from the move to online shopping
- Store hygiene (Retail Recovery Protocols) affecting the way she handles her customers
Let’s jump into the interview! We chatted to Lee Hardham, the CEO + Founder of Brauz.
MI Academy: to start off, could you give us a snapshot of the solution that Brauz offers?
Lee: Yeah, for sure. We provide retailers with a few technology solutions. They are easy to plug into their website and effectively let customers book a time to shop in-store. They include retail appointments, where a customer books a time to come in-store themselves or have a virtual appointment.
The most important part about the solution is that it’s all automated communication to the customer. So, SMS and email. It all integrates into the retailer’s website.
MI Academy: Thanks Lee, what a great solution. We wanted to put your solution to the test with a quick fictional scenario. Introducing Sandy, an over-50’s boutique owner in Brighton, Melbourne. How can Sandy bring her in-store experience back to her customers during COVID? How might an investment such as Brauz help to reconnect the online and bricks and mortar store?
Lee: Yeah. Well, we absolutely love helping the Sandy’s of the world.
So I guess there’s a couple of ways that we could look to help Sandy. Let’s go basic level and say that Sandy’s got a small website. There’s no inventory for in-store or anything like that.
We can give her the retail appointment solution, and that will let customers book a time to come in-store. Sandy can set those appointments to be, say, 30-60 minutes per timeslot, or whatever she wants. But more importantly, in COVID times, she can set that based on time.
The other advantage to the retail appointments is this: say Sandy’s store can only allow 10 people. Now, there are 10 people in the store, and people start queuing outside. Sandy can go out there and get them to make an appointment. She can collect a little bit of data on what they’re looking for and personalise that appointment once they come in.
We can also over virtual appointments. These give Sandy’s customers another way to shop and extend her great in-store experiences to regional and even international customers. We’ve seen retailers like Sandy’s increase their average order value by 4-5 times using in-store and virtual appointments.
MI Academy: And how long would that generally take to set up?
Lee: We could turn that around for her within two days, after that she could be running. With the investment, we’ve got a slight setup fee, and then it’s a performance-based platform. We only charge when people book. This takes away the risk on the cost investment side of it.
MI Academy: wow, that’s great! And what if she had several stores?
Lee: We’ve helped retailers with over 200 stores onboard our solutions in 6 weeks and that includes international. So, let’s say Sandy’s got store-based inventory available on her website. She might have a find-a-store feature or something like that, that calls upon the store stock. We can give her a reserve in-store feature, which goes on to a product page.
Say somebody has gone on Sandy’s website, they’ve seen a nice dress, but they don’t know if it fits. Sandy wants to make sure that there’s an efficient customer experience happening. She wants to personalise that service. While the customer is on the website, they can book that product in-store. That item can be ready for when the customer comes in, creating a super-personalised shopping experience.
Again, the reserve in-store solution is quick to get up and running as well. So, from start to finish, to get the code on the side takes about two days again.
MI Academy: Sandy’s business has been heavily affected by unstable foot traffic, unpredictable revenue streams, and the new Retail Recovery Protocols (store hygiene). How would Brauz assist her with those?
Lee: We definitely help with Retail Recovery Protocols by allowing retailers such as Sandy to control how many people can be in her store at any one time.
We’re all about helping drive great experiences in-store. Our mechanisms help combat unstable foot traffic.
Our solutions are proven to drive in-store revenue, so we definitely help with unpredictable revenue.
MI Academy: Let’s get to the guts of it. How do you see Brauz implemented to assist with the survival and revival of Australian retail post COVID?
Lee: The issue of decreasing in-store foot traffic and the complexities around running a store has been here before COVID.
By having timed appointments in-store, we have the ability to foster a great conversation with the customer and personalise the experience. So definitely timed retail appointments are going to be a thing of this day. That evolution in customer service has the ability to help retail revival in the long term.
MI Academy: A lot of retailers get scared of new tech, because it’s daunting. So, what advice would you give to a retailer that knows they can’t sit on their hands, but fears the repercussions of a bad or premature investment?
Lee: A click and collect project can take six months or it can take two years. There’s a lot of stress that goes along with that. And you’ve got the stresses of getting it released before Christmas.
So, that fear has increased a little bit on one side. But the need to adopt something that’s going to help them has also increased as well. When retailers are talking to technology providers, one thing that they want to know is, “what’s the initial investment”? What’s the time frame, and what is the effort involved?
As a business, we’ve positioned ourselves to be performance-based on performance-based pricing. So, if the retailer is not getting a return on investment, we don’t get a return either. Anybody who’s looking at technology wants their tech partner to be accountable. And there’s no better accountability than basing the performance on what it produces. There’s fear on one side of getting in and missing out on something is one thing. A bad investment happens if they invest a lot of time and effort into something and it doesn’t come off. Brauz solves this issue with performance-based pricing.
Do you see yourself in Sandy?
Been toying with the idea of click-and-collect or retail appointments? Shoot your questions our way!
Where to find Brauz:
Check them out here: https://brauz.com/