Takeaways From Decoded Fashion Meetup: Hot Tech Connecting Shoppers Offline & Online

Last Thursday, I attended the Decoded Fashion Meetup: Hot Tech Connecting Shoppers Offline & Online event.  This was a great event with a huge turnout, and I was excited to meet individuals with all types of backgrounds, from a developer interested in cosmetic startups to a VC at Greycroft Partners.

Startups featured at the event:

Nomi – Nomi is a real-time marketing optimization platform that lets retailers track and analyze customer data across multiple channels, including in-store, online and mobile.  Nomi utilizes Wi-Fi signals on smartphones to  track  the duration and frequency of shoppers in a store as well as other metrics such as conversion rates, device type and revenue by location.  Below is a snapshot of the Nomi dashboard:

Nomi Dashboard

Styloola – provides a mobile solution to help shoppers navigate the streets in search of the perfect item nearby. Its founder will be revealing a hardware-based solution launching in Q4.

Shopkick – is an app that lets users search for products and find discounts at retail locations.  Shopkick allows its users to redeem “kicks” or points for walking into a store and then use those kicks to redeem different rewards. You can get restaurant vouchers, iTunes gift cards, Best Buy, Target, Macy’s, Sports Authority or American Eagle gift cards, movie tickets, or even a cruise around the world. You can also donate them to your favorite cause.  The startup also launched in-app purchases, starting with 30 major stores, including Target, Macy’s, Best Buy, Old Navy and Anthropologie.

Snapette – a mobile shopping tool to help shoppers find designer fashion currently in stores near them.  Snapette has previously worked with Jimmy Choo to send push notifications to its users about a nearby sample sale.  The company announced this month the acquisition by PriceGrabber.


Summary of Takeaways:


-In-store metrics

-Effective online to offline retail strategy


Omni-channel retailing allows the user to utilize all shopping channels, including physical, online and mobile channels, simultaneously to shop anything, anywhere and anytime.  The omni-channel approach evolved as a solution to showrooming, which involves consumers browsing products in a physical store and comparing product prices, inventory availability and reviews online via a mobile device/tablet/computer.  Showrooming resulted in product purchases outside of the physical stores and from another retailer or online retailer with a lower price.  Omni-channel aims to create consistency in selling across all channels and increase the interaction between stores and consumers.

Ideally, omni-channel will allow the retailer to communicate with the consumer at every point in the shopping experience, from the time of product research to the point of transaction and even after the transaction.  For example, a customer would view the company’s lookbook online at home and receive a notification on their phone about the latest promotion offer and will walk into the store to redeem the offer at the time of purchase.  This approach centralizes the customer as depicted in the below diagram.


The challenge with omni-channel retailing is the ability to integrate and analyze data collected at different points of interaction with the customer and use this data to communicate information and provide services relevant to the customer’s preferences.  Additionally, new metrics focused on measuring customer behavior (i.e. visit duration, store zone popularity and bounce rate) will have to be adopted as the traditional Four-Wall Analysis cannot be used to understand individual consumer behaviors, and therefore will not be useful in helping retailers create a personalized shopping experience for their customers.  Adoption of the omni-channel approach will also require retailers to achieve the convergence of the physical and digital worlds through consistency in pricing, policies and fees, promotional offers, inventory availability and customer experience.  Channel-specific coupons and inconsistencies in product descriptions will encourage customers to prioritize where they will purchase goods, resulting in showrooming.

Effective Online to Offline Strategies

Today, we are seeing many online-originated businesses open up their own brick-and-mortar stores.  The most popular example has been Warby Parker.  Warby Parker is an online eyewear retailer that allows its customers to sign up and shop online for stylish frames, receive free home try-on kits and purchase the frames on the website.  This past year, the company has opened showrooms and stores in various cities across the United States.  The same frames are also offered in the Warby Parker stores, where Warby Parker representatives are on-site with iPads to help process your purchase instantly.  Its stores are also distribution centers.  The consistency in experience, pricing, branding and offerings has allowed Warby Parker to successfully execute its online to offline strategy.


Other Examples: Apple, Jo-Ann Fabric, Restoration Hardware, Walmart, Macy’s

By the Numbers

  • More than 60 percent of consumers who like to interact with brands do so through multiple channels
  • US online retail is expected to reach $262 billion in 2013 and grow to $370 billion by 2017
  • Three-quarters of U.S. Internet users research grocery and personal care products online
  • Over 80 percent of shoppers make their purchase decision before leaving their home
  • Over 50 percent of smartphone owners use the device while in stores to guide their purchases

Lookout For:

-In-store Wi-Fi

-Pop-Up shops: a temporary store ro event

-POS systems for omni-channel


Share with me your thoughts on omni-channel retailing/online-to-offline strategies @tiffanydstone or comment below!


Sources: http://www.forbes.com/sites/maribellopez/2012/10/22/can-omni-channel-retail-combat-showrooming/http://maosuit.com/stores/omi-channel-retail-101/, Rising to the Omni-Channel Challenge-August 2013

The Fastpass of Dining – Waitlisting Management Apps

Your Saturday night dinner could be waiting for you instead of you waiting on it.


In the past few years, a number of mobile waitlisting management services have emerged to improve the waiting time experience, including NoWait, buzztable, quickcue, NoshList, Table’s Ready and QLess.  These applications are focused on helping restaurants increase revenue in 3 ways:

  1. Seat more guests
  2. Collect more customer data
  3. Improve customer experience

The idea behind these apps is simple: you enter a restaurant and submit your name and number to the host, you receive text message updates on the status of your waiting time (some apps also allow you to view the number of parties ahead of you on your smartphones) and you are notified when your table is ready.

“Customers get a more enjoyable experience with real-time information so they can wait where they want and still go to the restaurants they want to.” –Robb Myer, President & Chief Product Officer at NoWait


The apps not only provide wait time notifications and management, but also allow restaurants to engage with customers via e-mail or text message and utilize customer data to track performance and customer retention.  For example, BuzzTable automatically creates a guest profile for each customer upon submitting his or her name and number, helping the restaurant track the individual’s dining history, birthday and customer preferences.  The marketing features allow restaurants to share promotions, coupons and create custom retention rewards.  Some other features include allowing customers to invite friends to the guest list or create a party and share their restaurant check-in on Facebook.



One study found that letting customers use their cell phones to be notified instead of coaster pagers resulted in 9.1 percent fewer turn-aways.  Coaster pagers are also expensive and start at $50-$100 per pager (LRS sells a 15-pager kit for $928).  Additionally, the cost for replacement or repairment of a pager can range from $70-$100 per pager.  It is not uncommon for pagers to be lost or stolen as reported by many restaurants.  Therefore, not only are fixed startup costs reduced for a waitlist management system, but also the maintenance costs required to replace or repair pagers.

Comparison of Startup Costs:

Restaurant Pagers: $2000 – $6000 (according to Foodservice.com)

Waitlist app: $0 – $1200 (range based on required iPads or computers)

*QLess offers to even purchase the old pager system from the restaurant and apply its current value to its QLess bills.

**The apps make money by charging restaurants a platform fee to manage their guests with costs ranging from ~$49-$200 per month depending on the selected plan.  For example, NoWait offers three plans for restaurants based on the number of parties a month: free for 200 parties, $114 a month for 1,200 parties and $199 a month for 2,500 parties.

With over 37 billion hours of time lost domestically every year waiting in line, these mobile waitlist management applications are providing a cost-efficient solution to help increase customer retention, create a 2-way communication channel between the restaurant and its customer and improve the wait time experience.  Although restaurants have been the main target for these apps, it will only be a matter of time for these waitlisting management apps to appear at hospitals, pharmacies, the DMV, car washes, amusement parks and other places where long wait times are common.

Threats to Consider

It has been argued that the market for NoWait is considerably larger than that of OpenTable’s (OpenTable offers an electronic reservation book for users to make restaurant reservations online).  A recent article stated that there are 270,000 casual dining restaurants that NoWait targets compared to the 35,000 fine dining restaurants OpenTable serves.  However, OpenTable has been quick to launch its own Table Management App that enables restaurants to manage their reservations and tables in sync with their OpenTable Electronic Reservation Book.  OpenTable’s market dominance and ability to offer both online reservations and waitlist management for restaurants without reservations poses a significant threat to any recent waitlist management apps.  Additionally, OpenTable’s recent partnership with Facebook adds to the social experience of the app, allowing users to share their restaurant visit or reserve on Facebook.  OpenTable already offers many of the features that waitlist management apps provide, stripping away uniqueness and competitive advantage.

OpenTable Table Management App:

opentable floor opentable floor2

Case Study

There have been many case studies performed to prove the effectiveness of mobile waitlist notifications.  Below is a summary of one performed by Buzztable on Penelope, a restaurant in NY (and one of my favorite brunch spots!):

[For the full case study: http://www.buzztable.com/customers/penelope/]

The Challenges

-Over 25% of guests added to wait list ended up “walking away” due to 60+ minute waits

-Received an average of 12 guests complaints per week regarding long wait times

-Staff was reluctant to change their previous wait list system

-Limited data on customers made it difficult to identify repeat customers

The Objectives

-Increase revenue by decreasing walk-aways and canceled tables

-Increase guest experience and overall satisfaction during wait time

-Achieve instant staff buy-in with minimal integration, training and upkeep

-Collect customer data and easily display to staff for improved practices

The Solution: BuzzTable

Wait List Management: BuzzTable provided Penelope with their WaitList+ platform, consisting of 3 parts: 1) an iPad-based Wait List Management application that allows hosts to greet and notify their guests with SMS-messaging and collect/store guest information; guests are then prompted to download 2) BuzzTable’s Consumer Mobile App (free for iPhone & Android) which gives customers the ability to check their wait list progress, browse top trending dishes with photos, unlock rewards, and provide private feedback; and 3) E-mail reports (sent daily and/or weekly) which send all collected data directly to the restaurant.

Custom Account Settings: Penelope’s account was created in roughly 15 minutes, which included custom text messages to match their brand, custom status colors on the WaitList interface, plus unique loyalty rewards, high-res photos of their top dishes, and custom feedback fields within the BuzzTable Consumer Mobile App.

5-minute Training: Penelope’s hosts were fully trained on the system in less than 5 minutes. This gave them confidence to use the system in a live environment immediately following training.

The Results

-28% Decrease in Walk-aways = $27,500 of incremental revenue over 60-day period (at an average guest check of $25 per person)

-1,101 additional seated guests

-Decreased Guest Complaints by 66%

-100% Approval Rating from Staff


-3,800+ Unique Customer Profiles Created (BuzzTable enabled FOH staff to identify repeat guests and VIPs. Of the 3,800+ guests, more than 700 enrolled into Penelope’s mobile loyalty program directly through the BuzzTable app. This opt-in process delivered email, birthday, Facebook and other key info on guests to the restaurant.)

-110+ Facebook Engagements = 4,100+ News Feed Impressions

-90% of Guests Agree BuzzTable is a “Big Improvement”

-Guest App Retains 45% More Guests (Guests who downloaded BuzzTable’s Mobile Consumer App are 45% more likely to be seated (not walk-away or cancel) than other guests.)

Share with me your thoughts on waitlisting management apps @tiffanydstone or comment below!

Sources: http://www.buzztable.com/http://qless.com/industries/restaurants/http://www.crunchbase.com/company/nowait#ixzz2d5D6GpLmhttp://www.benzinga.com/success-stories/13/08/3852548/pittsburgh-startup-nowait-could-overtake-opentables-volume-in-2014#ixzz2d5IYwrJEhttp://www.benzinga.com/success-stories/13/08/3852548/pittsburgh-startup-nowait-could-overtake-opentables-volume-in-2014#ixzz2d5IVeWdjhttp://techcrunch.com/2012/08/28/death-to-the-restaurant-buzzer-nowait-raises-2-million-for-ios-app-waitlisting-system/http://www.sfgate.com/business/press-releases/article/NoWait-Seats-16-Million-Diners-on-Par-to-Surpass-4727191.phphttp://thenextweb.com/insider/2013/05/01/bing-fund-invests-in-buzztable-an-app-that-tracks-when-youll-be-seated-at-your-favorite-restaurant/http://www.foodservice.com/articles/show.cfm?contentid=15701&title=Restaurant%20Text%20Pager%20Systems%20and%20Cell%20Phone%20Pager%20Systems%20-%20A%20Cost%20Benefit%20Analysishttp://www.tablesready.com/pricing.php