Startup Corner: GoInStore

Andre Hordagoda, the co-founder of GoInStore, chats with Retail Systems about the retail technology startup which is using live streaming to bring online customers in-store.

Can you give us a bit of background about GoInStore? Who are you and what you do?

Myself and fellow co-founder of GoInStore, Aman Khurana, previously worked together in e-commerce/retail tech within the personalisation industry at Peerius. We were working with algorithmic personalisation engines that produced recommended products for online customers. Aman and myself could see that these engines were doing a similar job to sales assistants in-store, and that got us thinking about the gap between onsite and in-store sales processes. There were a number of people trying to bridge the gap using text based solutions, but no one was truly innovating to bring the online and in-store retail experience together. So we built GoInStore, which by using live video streaming technology, enables retailers for the first time to combine their online and offline assets to create a seamless multi-channel experience for their customer journeys.

Can you explain how your retail technology works?

GoInStore does this by partnering with retailers to create an immersive live video streaming experience for their customers, using an app that retail teams log in to. We work with retailers so that customers can easily move from online to offline and back again. New additional functionality also allows retailers to broadcast events and launches through the app as well. All customers need to do is simply click a button on a retailer’s website, product or category page that has GoInStore built into it and allow audio. The customer is then taken by live video streaming into the physical location were the sales assistant is. By using smart glasses or a phone, the sales assistant can then discuss the customer’s needs and support the sales process and help to improve conversion rates.

GoInStore has built in customisation capabilities so we can pass data from the customer’s website visit to the sales assistant, for example what product or category page they were just looking at. We can then match customers to the most relevant sales assistant to ensure they have the best retail experience possible, using a one-to-one human connection that helps them buy the best product(s) for their needs. The benefits are significant; the customer has the convenience of going into a store at a time to suit them from the comfort of their office or home. This can be achieved in a number of ways, for example, if a retailer doesn’t have a store presence in a territory they can use the broadcast functionality to reach their existing or new customers. Store staff in differing time zones can log on to the app to help customers who are on the retailer’s website at that time potentially from another country.

Have you signed up many retailers? Are you currently in talks with major brands?

Yes, we already have a number of retailers and retail brands using GoInStore across different countries including Dyson GMBH, Axel Arigato in the UK, Stockholm and soon to launch in New York, DFS in The Netherlands and Thomann Music Haus in Germany. We are also in discussions with a number of other high-profile brands at the moment.

What have been the challenges getting to this stage?

One of the challenges is that we are often seen as part of the virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) industries, which we aren’t. At GoInStore we are using one-to-one live human and physical interaction, which at the moment seems to us as the best use of technology and retailers’ current assets and physical locations. The opportunity for us is to showcase how easy and cost-effective GoInStore is to use for retailers.

Is there anything you would do differently in hindsight?

In the early days, we were approached by so many people and organisations offering to help us navigate through our important early stages. If you're not careful, you can end up spending unnecessary money and in some cases giving up equity. We did learn quickly, which meant if we had given up a stake in the business early it wouldn't have been worth it. There are plenty of people out there willing to give you advice for free in the short term – with a view to becoming more involved if the chemistry is right. We'd definitely have backed ourselves a bit more in terms of our learning capacities, looking back at it now.

Are you working on anything new at the moment? What is next for GoInStore?

Having recently launched our broadcast functionality, our retail partners are getting very excited about how easy and cost-effective it is to now broadcast across their website and social media channels simultaneously. There are many different ways retailers can use this feature, from broadcasting live in-store events, to product launches and even staff training – so we are working with our current clients to launch these for them.

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