The American company b8ta has introduced an innovative retail model: retail as a service. This is not entirely surprising once you know that the founders are four Silicon Valley hotshots who made their names with the Nest smart thermostat.
Sales are a side issue
In its physical stores, b8ta sells only innovative iOT products from small tech brands that normally do not have the means to make the transition to department stores, electronics stores or their own (flagship) stores, but do want deeper insights into what potential buyers think of their products.
These are consumers who might otherwise be hesitant to purchase such often pricey products from unknown brands online, without having first seen or tested them, and would like to discover and test new products in a physical environment. Shoppers can handle, view, test and learn more about these products via dedicated touch screens. Nothing special about that, you might think.
Retail as a service
b8ta uses sensors to record every interaction, whether you are testing a wireless neurostimulator (for more energy and mindfulness) or a smart herb container (that tells you whether your herbs are getting enough water and light). Devices in the ceiling generate heat maps, touch screens record how many shoppers look up certain information, while other sensors record how often items are picked up.
Suppliers have full control over the content on their touch screens (from product information to pricing) and also receive 100 per cent of each sale. They pay b8ta a subscription fee that covers everything and provides access to dashboards that display all the metrics of their products. It’s an exciting ‘phygital’ retail concept!