The pandemic has significantly impacted consumer purchases and purchasing behavior, accelerating the adoption of digital technologies and a boom in e-commerce within the retail sector.
As a result of this change, traditional retailers looking to create a winning business model post-pandemic have turned to self-service solutions such as buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) and click-and-collect methods to maintain physical contact. to a minimum and attract consumers back to stores.
Last year, for example, Amazon announced the launch of its first full-size Amazon Fresh grocery store in the US with the company’s ‘Just Walk Out’ cashierless payment technology. The company leverages technologies like overhead cameras and weight sensors on store shelves that automatically update shoppers’ virtual carts as they add and remove items from their physical carts.
However, according to Trinh Le Fiedlerco-founder and CEO of an artificial intelligence (AI) startup NomitriWhile solutions like Amazon’s provide sophisticated artificial intelligence in real time, they require significant upfront costs to purchase the required digital hardware.
That’s where Nomitri, launched in Berlin in 2021, is trying to revolutionize the payment market and differentiate itself from its competitors, giving brick-and-mortar retailers a low-cost, low-active solution that can be downloaded to any mobile phone, no need. to install multiple cameras or sensors in stores or supermarkets.
“We understand that retailers don’t have the money to invest in all of this infrastructure up front, and they also don’t have the time or the sophistication in terms of IT departments to set all of this up,” Le-Fiedler told PYMNTS in an interview. .
The integrated mobile-based AI solution has also been designed to ensure that video data never leaves the customer’s device, protecting user privacy in a region, Europe, that is home to some of the most stringent data privacy laws. strict in the world.
Although Nomitri launched in Germany, Le-Fiedler said its goal of disrupting the box market extends far beyond a single country or region.
“We’re not just trying to fill a void in Germany, we believe it’s a global niche that we’re uniquely positioning ourselves to fill,” he said.
Direct retail-consumer relationship
Beyond the main selling point of lowering the cost of hardware for retailers, Le-Fiedler said merchants see great benefit in communicating directly with their customers in the app, with the ability to offer promo codes and discounts on time. actual when an item is withdrawn. off the shelf
Offline retailers are also evaluating the different ways they can harness the vast amounts of data they would have accumulated about customer buying behaviors over time to create a data-driven, personalized customer experience. This includes where they shop, what they buy, and how often they shop at the store.
“What I see and hear from my retail customers is that they care a lot about the intimate relationship they used to have with their customers when they walk into their store, and they realize they are slowly losing it,” Le-Fiedler said. .
It added that the growing number of competitors that have been able to entice consumers to make the switch to online shopping is one of the biggest concerns of its retail customers, who are constantly looking for new ways to innovate and retain their share. market.
US market first before EU expansion
From all indications, it’s not just retailers that have seen the value that the Berlin-based retail AI software company brings to the table. The digital self-checkout solution has also caught the attention of investors, who recently injected 2.5 million euros ($2.7 million) to help expand the business.
For Le-Fiedler, the payment market is entering a “super disruptive but also very fast changing environment” in terms of daily purchasing behavior, which is why it was important to build a hardware-agnostic platform from the start.
But operating in the space of deep technology and ever-evolving new technologies means that finding agile and flexible talent is often a hurdle, one that Le-Fiedler is addressing by avoiding talent that is too specialized in their fields.
“I tend not to hire experts who have been in the market for 10 years, but people who have the attitude to do the job that needs to be done,” he said, adding that if another crisis comes two years from now, “I need to have an organization, as well as a software architecture, that is capable of adjusting to that [change].”
When it comes to expansion plans, Le-Fiedler said his goal is to target the US first before expanding his presence in Europe, a strategy that would deliver much higher financial returns, given the homogeneous nature of the US market. USA and the opening of consumers to new innovations. and Technology.
“You get quicker feedback there [in the U.S.], and you don’t have to deal with essential hurdles in terms of translating into different languages and dealing with different regulations,” he said. “I think Europe is mostly not a great place to launch something and scale it quickly.”
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