While getting a brand to stand out online is often described as a daunting task, what’s often forgotten about is the similar difficulties that come with getting a product to flourish in store. Woolworths alone works with over 3,100 food suppliers, with many offering tens to hundreds of products from local and international brands – that means more food products than we’ll ever be able to get through, even at our hangriest.
Helping brands get their products to stand out on the supermarket shelf through first-hand customer data is Sydney-based startup Aglo.
Using a crowdsourcing model, Aglo’s app allows shoppers to earn cash for completing gamified “missions” while they’re browsing a store. As an alternative to hiring brand representatives or marketing researchers, brands are able to access first-hand consumer data about their product for a significantly cheaper cost.
The “retail intelligence” provider was imagined by cofounder David Wong and Mark Jordan, with Wong previously working in the customer relationship management (CRM) space for online business Oracle, putting together data for large global brands including Coke.
Data implemented into the business’s online software was harnessed using the approach most brands take, involving sending reps to a store to perform an analysis on a product and inform how it’s performing on the shelf. With a number of traditional processes for data collection moving digital, this model, according to Wong, had grown stale.
“So currently the solution is to send a sales rep or market researcher into the store, but the issue with that it’s obviously expensive, since you need to pay the salaries. We thought these days nearly all shoppers have smartphones connected to the cloud, so why don’t we crowdsource this process,” he said.
Having a product gain visibility on the shelf is essential for a brand, as Wong explained there’s a huge challenge for brands when gearing up their once online-only products for a life on the shelf in a store. Nearly all brands, particularly in the food industry, won’t be able to afford their own ‘exclusive’ store to showcase their products, meaning they’re forced to compete on the packed shelves of a huge chain.
“They have a challenge in understanding what’s happening in the store. A lot sell through wholesalers. They have a lot of visibility of how they’re products are leaving the warehouse, but once it hit the shelves it’s a bit of a black hole,” said Wong.
Wong added that for brands, selling a product in bricks and mortar stores is still increasingly relevant; while the online retail space is growing globally, reaching above $20 billion last year, according to data from the National Australia Bank issued in August last year, Wong claimed “ninety percent” of retail sales still occur within physical stores rather than online.
“We’re providing richer information of what’s going on in store, since to grow shop presence, you need to understand how you’re going on the shelf,” said Wong.
Seeing the increase of crowdsourcing models used to innovate in other spaces, Wong saw an opportunity to apply it to the retail intelligence space. Amongst the shelf of startups using crowdsourcing models is Western Australian startup Demand.film, which pays influences to promote cinema films, while Wellington startup SuchCrowd applies crowdsourcing to ticketing events.
“[Crowdsourcing] is an existing process in other spaces, so why not it here to have customers gather information while in the store using their smartphone. For the brands, it’s cheaper and they get to expand that they can collect information,” said Wong.
Aglo serves brands through an online web platform, which provides them with a database they can use to visualise and access data. Any employee is able to login to the platform, which can be connected to a brand’s CRM tools such as Salesforce. Brands are then able to transfer any data collected through Aglo to their previously established database for “internal” use.
To begin gathering data, brands are able to launch “campaigns”, based on how many stores their product is featured in.
These campaigns fund both the startup and the shopper, who uses the Aglo app to view all the available missions in their local area, with each detailing what shop and location the shopper will have to travel to. By tapping on a mission, a shopper is able to ‘lock’ it in, granting them exclusive access to complete it.
Once in a store, shoppers are tasked to take a picture of the product and complete a small list of questions, asking them what position the product has on the shelf and whether they can see the price, for example, before the data is sent to Aglo’s internal term for review.
“It goes into the back end so we can check that it’s valid and do a GPS check so we can check that they’re actually in the store, not just taking a picture of a screenshot. It’s then passed onto the business,” Wong explained.
Aglo users can participate in the review process too – using the app, they can sign up to receive another shopper’s mission and complete a series of checks to validate it, earning a small pocket of cash in the process. Cash is also earnt for successfully completing missions.
“They have a digital wallet which shows their balance. They can then hit the cashout button, send us their PayPal details, and we’ll credit them,” said Wong.
Having entered the market over a year ago, the startup wants to expand its customer base by showing brands that there’s a cheaper, digital way to gather information about their products.
Image: Aglo cofounder Mark Jordan. Source: Supplied.