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Shelves that gather information

In a recent interview, I questioned the future of marketing as we know it. Less creativity and more math, I said. In fact, I still think those in charge of making a product attractive so that someone will buy it should take into account not just the taste of the customer, but also that of the customer’s refrigerator. What we saw in the movieMinority report is just around the corner: marketing technology ready to track the age and gender of their customers as they pass by. In fact, in the giant supermarket chains like Mondelez, there are already shelves equipped with Microsoft Kinect sensors (popularized by their use in gaming) that can determine the age and gender of the potential buyers walking in front of them.

I believe that online capabilities based on portable devices will be the ones to give us the answer in the future. Whoever will want to sell anything online will have to “convince” a machine. Let’s say that a fridge runs out of cheese, and the fridge itself is in charge of ordering it online; one day this selection will be based on technical or substantial criteria from which software can make decisions. Big-data, algorithms, previous experiences or whatever will determine that the one who buys your cheese won’t be a human, but a machine trapped in its owner’s mobile device.

Despite the fact that Mondelez assures us they that they don’t plan to store the data they gather on individuals, they are starting to manage the aggregated information obtained from cross-referencing all the individual records, hence improving their marketing campaigns, tailoring them to better address specific populations. It’s still no more than a market study, but with a solid change from the established model. It’s clear these sensors are just the tip of the iceberg of something much more complex that surely will interact with smartphones and all sorts of devices in the future. Smart watches, or Google glasses could be the ideal devices to send reports to a platform like the one Mondelez is already setting up in its stores.

It’s analog big data ready to take on the tiniest details. A sensor capable of measuring times and product selections according to their locations, tracking lines of sight and coming up with sophisticated charts on discarded products which will determine new aspects of company marketing.

There are examples that can provide details and give us an idea of the way things are headed — social shopping, group buying or comparison shopping engines, among other things — but I think all that is still light-years away from what’s coming. They are just the edges of something much more transverse and disruptive. It will have to do with the global talent fostered in that environment, with connected ideas that will allow society to get better in its habits of consumption, and will stimulate society to be more intelligent. Those changes will come from a collective marketing intelligence, and through data management systems never seen before. It will make big data look like a preschool toy. Nothing will remain as it is today; the future has already begun.

Let’s imagine a customer picks up an object (the sensor detects which it is) but after some time (the sensor detects how long), puts it back on the shelves. Finally they choose another or simply move on to a different product (the sensor detects that as well). A whole world of data analysis begins at that instant. If on top of that, the customer’s smartphone is open to share information in exchange for receiving deals or something similar, the business will be able to know the customer’s spending patterns and overall tastes. It’s an endless equation but tremendously efficient.

Ecommerce in Mobile Devices

These days I’ve been in the Americas.  From Miami to Santiago, Chile, I’ve been passing through Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and Mexico.  In each of these places, we’re presenting our new betas from the first pool of products to come from IDODI Labs. In this first chapter, we are looking to enter into the global market, without pretensions and without a great deal of noise since in the coming months what we will be trying to do is learn from the user’s experiences, obtain reliable measurements and take care of all the improvements and necessary steps to achieve our final objective: simplify, automate, and perfect this type of ecommerce SaaS. The first thing we’ve discovered is the importance of providing answers on mobile devices and the urgency of focusing on that area. In the next couple of months we will have working versions of the apps decidedly geared to be sold.
Mobile devices have truly brought about an extreme revolution in human relations, communications, purchasing habits and information. It is here in the Americas, particularly in Latin America, where a giant risky leap is being taken between applications and devices. Meanwhile in Europe, and even in the United States, you must first have a product available in a fixed format or bound to a traditional support, and in these countries the use of the mobile device is provided before any SaaS subject to a static platform. It’s incredible how if you want to grab a considerable market share, you have to submit to this formula.

According to the Path to Purchase study carried out by the prestigious call measurement provider Telmetrics, today 46% of users start the purchasing process on their mobile device, even if they end up finishing the purchase offline or on a different device.

One of the things that has surprised me the most, and that in the last few months has become a work obsession at IDODI, is that even though users resort to their smart phones to begin a purchase if they are away from home, when they return home they continue or complete the process with their tablet. All this is to say that even though the purchase may be offline, the actual gateway to your sales is built on the effective fusion of your marketing on various devices. Specifically, the study indicates that 74% of searches begun on a mobile device are completed offline, whereas 54% of purchases whose search originated on a tablet were finalized online, either on a PC or mobile device.

One of the principal conclusions that arises from this study is that clients have been using multiple devices for some time now, and because of that it is important to provide an integrated experience, to facilitate access to information and to promote conversation through various conduits. I leave you with one of the graphics that accompanies the study which really helps to clarify things.




Triple Challenge

In our company, we are both nervous and congratulating ourselves. We have put three new technological projects into production. They revolve around principles I consider key: they are scalable, they point towards a “long tail” generic market, and they are to be low cost for our clients. These products have been developed within IDODI’s own research program. From Dublin, we pulled the business development cart ahead and from Barcelona the technological project one. It’s been tough combining both efforts but it seems like things are starting to fall in place.
Even though we haven’t invented anything new, we seek to simplify processes, bring ecommerce to final users that scarcely use the technologies represented. We have tried for it to become a pool of products answering to the basic needs in the digital world today. Many more are still needed, and we are working on it.

They say investing on startups is risky. True. So much for all other “safe” investments out there, by the way. However, every time I have the chance, I’ll invest in models that allow job creation, chasing dreams, and facing changing times the way I see it. Not everybody needs to be able to see it, but they should be able to analyze it. These are the main characteristics of the items analyzed in this post:

We have three products. Openshopen, which allows you to easily and safely open an online store. I’ll comment on its outstanding features in coming days. Another one is Emailfy, which supports your online marketing campaigns and your online commercial mailing. The third one is Ebnto, which facilitates the easy organization and promotion of an event. All three pursue simplifying existing models, generate income if the user desires it and complement each other.

  • We simplify similar models. We consider our offer to be efficient, complementary and international. We look forward to take this type of technology (with dozens of similar references) to shallower markets in which we already have very profitable commercial process going on.

  • Generic international release. They are digital projects that can be sold without frontiers, but we release them using the commercial framework IDODI has in 17 countries as a base. On top of a great presence in Latin America, we provide presence in Singapore, USA, Portugal, and Ireland. This way we manage to close agreements and contracts with powerful local agents, accelerating the access to the greater public. This is not easy. Each branch, each team, each subsidiary represents a high cost in energy and money, involving a great deal of compromise and conviction. I must say it’s true we are helped by my almost two decades of networking while working throughout the world.

  • Products in constant beta phase. I love releasing fully operational products branded with the label “on permanent improvement”. We are not going to stop learning and adding new elements. Many of the problems that may arise are being solved in real time, detected mostly through user experience. Is there a better model?

  • Complementary, transversal, coordinated teams. My dream was to be able to have my own “software factory cloud”. A place were projects could be created taking advantage of synergies, teams, and challenges. That’s how we have designed this first plan. We’ve got three products because there are three companies, but all three are managed by a common staff and complementary teams. Very efficient patterns of what can be combined are created. I assure you it is not easy, but it is fascinating.

  • Private capital. So far we haven’t had to engage in the process of attracting public funds. We haven’t requested a cent from anyone on top of what the partners been able to contribute. Maintaining the development of three products like these with dozens of people involved and complicated agendas is tough. Now it’s time to find capital for the coming stages once we get there. The funding rounds will be open shortly and, if you wish, you can request the proposal document at IDODI.


If, as a potential investor or client you interested in more information, don’t hesitate to contact me or my team.