It’s faster for the customer. What are the advantages for the dealer?
Schneider: The biggest advantage is this safety aspect. We provide anti-theft protection and at the same time bring the convenience idea to the customer. The other advantage is that the trader learns a lot about the customer. By using an app, we collect data. We see what the customer is looking at and which products he has checked the price for – even if he decides against the purchase. From this one can develop new marketing measures. For example, offer him a ten percent discount if he has not bought something three times before the fourth product. So in the way: Now buy it finally. You could also locate products in the store and direct customers to the app via the app. He could ask another employee, but he does not have to.
Dealers could use it to save staff.
Schneider: Maybe that would have been the case two years ago. Currently it’s more in the other direction. For traders, the advice is the big difference to e-commerce, and a consultation can not portray an app. The trader can concentrate on his advantage of consulting, preferring to retrain his staff and use the adviser close to the client.
Is your anti-theft device recommended for entire shops or rather in individual departments?
Schneider: In the area of fashion, in which t-shirts are also stolen for five euros, it makes sense to equip the entire range with such a physical anti-theft device. In the electronics trade, however, there are individual products such as headphones or smartphones, which are particularly at risk of theft. DIY stores with high-quality power tools are also an issue. The main purpose of electronic fuses is to prevent the cardboard from being opened. Often not all the cardboard is stolen, but only the content. We are the provider of very expensive, high quality goods. Ultimately, however, there will probably be a combination of different techniques.
What would that look like?
Schneider: In our product portfolio we also have a variant without theft protection, in which you only scan the barcode with your smartphone. And we have the way in between with RFID stickers. Since then you have a bit of theft protection, but can continue to pay with the phone. All this can be integrated into existing systems, because we will not be able to change the whole trade overnight. On the one hand, there are completely new options, for example in the beverage market. Our backup could theoretically allow you to shop 24/7 without staff seven days a week.
A Munich-based Saturn has tested your anti-theft device along with the purchase option 2018 in the headphone section, and in general Media-Saturn is quite open-minded with regard to cash-free payments. How else is the situation in Germany?
Schneider: It’s true that Mediamarkt-Saturn is the pioneer. On the other hand, self-checkout systems at Rewe, Edeka and Ikea have been around for quite some time, which is not a new topic in itself. Where the market is heading is Mobile Self-Checkout. This means replacing the terminal with the customer’s smartphone. In Germany, the supermarkets are pioneers. For them, it’s easier to move from one process to another. Fashion is very far behind, because the concept is just too new.
And what about international comparisons?
Schneider: In the US, all dealers experiment with it. The first ones have already crashed certain technologies because they do not work. Walmart for example the mobile scan of a barcode because too much was stolen. Many start-ups are in the field of camera on the go, as it is in the Amazon Go markets. The camera identifies the customer, saves the face and assigns to him the tin of ravioli I took off the shelf. If I put it back in the store it will be booked back. When I leave the store, it will be charged to my account. In the fashion sector, for example, this does not work. First, you can not hang cameras in the locker room, and the technology will not be able to distinguish a white T-shirt in M, S, L, XL, with short-sleeved or V-neck, and so on over the next few years. Nevertheless, we see the different technologies as complementary to ours, because in the end it will result in a mix of different technologies and you might also have to work together.
“E-commerce no longer has these double-digit growth figures and is stagnating in part as people go back to a bookstore to buy a book, or in fashion, customers go downtown, want to be inspired, touch, try”. Alexander Schneider