INFINITI Motor Company Ltd. and Nest, a leading venture capital firm and innovation partner, joined forces to launch the INFINITI LAB Global Accelerator 3.0 under the theme of “The Future Consumer”.
Retail in Asia followed the development of the program and met some of the start-ups to know more about the INIFINITI LAB and their contribution to the retail innovation.
Actimirror : the revolutionary mirror
RiA : What is the opportunity that INFINITI 3.0 is giving you in terms of goals and challenges?
Victor Ruiz, CEO : Actimirror has already gained some experience in different sectors, such as retail, hospitality, healthcare, but we believe that the automotive sector represents a huge potential. I have just come back from the Silicon Valley and I saw driverless taxis on the roads and passengers pretty comfortable with that.
The car is becoming an entertainment centre, almost a second living room, where families can gather to shop online, get entertained, learn, watch television, and here our mirror comes in.
INFINITI provides us with this sense of connection with such a dynamic sector, and talking with a car manufacturer means understanding challenges and finding solutions by getting the right perspective.
In terms of challenges, retailers are open to listen but one main difference across countries is that US is more interested in the return-on-investment, while Asia is more concerned about the actual investment, surprisingly Europe is half way between the two attitude.
RiA : As you said, Actimirror has been adopted in retail and hospitality, can you give us some examples?
Victor : For retail, the most successful example is cosmetics. Ladies go in front of the mirror and it recognizes gender, age, ethnicity, colour of the hair, tone of the skin, and even the mood. It can recommend the right product based on those information, but also according to the outfit worn. The mirror complements the sales assistant with a data-driven approach, which increases the customization of the service.
Actimirror aims to satisfy the tech-savvy millennials who are becoming more individualistic and willing to buy something that fits them perfectly with the least time-consuming experience. Actimirror also helps brands not to lose the sales because the experimentation done is recorded in a QR code that the customer can scan and keep for future online shopping. Travel retail can also rely on this for the new mobile customers.
In terms of hospitality, Actimirror is a private smart-concierge, so why going around if you can have the ultimate shopping experience in the private environment of the room. Home salon is coming then!
At the end of the day new consumers are all about: “Me, myself, and I” attitude!
RiA : Is it your first time in Asia or have you already started exploring the market?
7 years in Asia, we are an experienced team, we can claim a global citizenship for all the founders. Our head of product development has spent 34 years in Asia. In many ways we are not a typical start up with late 20’s or early 30s. Everybody in the company is more than 40 except the head of product development who is in his mid-30s. We decided to engage in this challenge because we believe in Actimirror.
RiA : Based on you experience, what are the challenges you face in promoting your technology? Are retailers reluctant?
Victor : We do not see much reluctance, they understand they need to do something to survive. I use US as reference, stores are closing, they do not have customers, retailers do not know how to drive traffic to the customers.
Actimirror is able to drive connected consumers to the stores. The only challenge is to elaborate the right content. Stores may struggle to produce the right content, but we also help them with that.
RiA : What’s the future for retail then?
Innovate or die. If the consumers do not go to the shop, the shop needs to go to the customers. Actimirror allows retailers to do that.
SEE ALSO : INFINITI’s views on its future consumer
Synapbox : big data and facial recognition
RiA : What attracted you to join INFINITI rather than another accelerator?
Francisco Marin, CAiO : To be in touch with our first client in the car manufacturer universe and the opportunity to be in Asia. It is very important not only because of the size, but we can understand the way consumers in Asia behave in a digital space.
INFINITI is a global brand. Working with this brand, we can get in touch with various countries and implement our technologies in office in different countries simultaneously.
The contact brings values to our technologies. Also, car manufacturers are very used to testing, and so they understand that testing in a proper way is valuable to the building products. It is a perfect match.
RiA : You are working for data and facial recognition. What is the information that is actually collected for facial recognition?
Francisco : We have four axes of analysis. The first is a facial emotional coding, which gathers emotions of happiness, neutrality, anger, sadness and surprise. These emotions are consistent across cultures.
The second layer is eye tracking, which allows us to understand what people are looking at.
The third layer is behavioural analytics, which focuses on how people behave in the digital space, such as clicking. The last one is a questionnaires, which we cross-analyze together with other information to bring value and the relevant data to the client.
RiA : What are the challenges you face in presenting your product to retailers?
Francisco : I think it is difficult to bring a new and different viewpoint. Everybody would like to make decisions based on data, but it is very difficult indeed. Sometimes I feel like creative are much more easy to take in comparison with the efforts that an accurate market analysis requires. Getting and analyzing data is very expensive, time-consuming and sometimes reading the data is not that easy. The challenge is changing the mindset and explaining why data in the way we deliver are reliable and very actionable. But, if the report is clear, retailers are quite happy to explore opportunities.
RiA : You mentioned that some companies have already implemented your technology in their own business. Which the stages in which they find more difficulties for the implementation?
Francisco : The initial stage, which requires the creation of the concept is definitely the hardest one. We can bring value to their written content at the same time help them creating different content
RiA : In which sector do you have more experience, or you see that the technology will be better received, and in which one you see retailers more reluctant?
Francisco : I think like UX type of evaluation adopt our technologies very. Most of our clients use our technology in the areas of Fintech and consumer approach to gather more information. At the same time, the same companies may be more reluctant in their media and PR areas. Creating content is not expensive for a media company for example, but identifying the right channel is expensive. Our technology can generate information from users’ in the channel where they are already (e.g. Facebook).
RiA : How is your technology perceived by consumers? Are they reluctant in releasing data? What about storage of data?
Francisco : I think it is easier to understand for the consumers rather than for our clients. I try to make it clear that what I sell is the processed and analyzed the data of the consumer, the context of all the information, the behaviour, but related to a sample population not the individual himself.
V777 : Visionaries 777, from INFINITI 2.0 to actual business with INFINITI
RiA : What was the most valuable take-away from INFINITI 2.0?
Frantz Lasorne, Founder : We work on interactive solutions for different sectors, we have experience with market agencies, automotive, jewellery, furniture etc. The ideal strategy is to get in touch with one brand within the sector and then establish ourselves within the industry. For the automotive, we were lucky as INFINITI has its headquarters in Hong Kong, which makes it easier, and also a way to explore Asia.
We joined the accelerator and we learnt a lot. One of the takeaways from INFINITI is definitely learning how to work with such a large automotive manufacturer and interact with the different departments involved in the process of delivering and providing for INFINITI. What happens is that you may have some ideas at the beginning, but when you negotiate with various departments about their needs, your ideas will be refined.
RiA : Which department do you work more closely?
Frantz : Right now, we are working with the dealership department and motor show. The idea for us is to work the dealership to create a more interactive retail experience. We know that space is always a problem, so we working with digital to optimize it.
RiA : What were the challenges, but also the achievements that Visionaries would not have experienced without INFINITI?
Frantz : One of the biggest challenges was to obtain the right data. For example, we need the 3D file of the car at work. It is quite confidential as you can imagine. The information was a little bit tricky, so we had to sign the proper insurance first. It was a long and difficult process.
In terms of achievements, I think our solutions was very well received. We are pushing INFINITI to think in a different way. The way to envision their future dealership. We are already working with them to launch these solutions in Asia (Singapore), Australia and maybe Beijing. They are starting on the small scale, but eventually, they could be deployed across the globe.
RiA : You are collaborating with INFINITI to implement VR in the retail experience. At which stage of the customer journey you see your solutions and what are the benefits, and what are the challenges?
Frantz : I think the benefits are for the potential customers, instead of purely looking at the car, they can use those solutions to learn more about the car. Instead of reading the introduction of the car on the A4 paper next to the car, we provide a virtual story about the car, which is definitely more user-friendly. We can visualize information, which may be a little bit hard to understand if only explained with words, such as the autonomous driving. We can lead the customers to a playful journey. They can play around and learn at the same time. I would say we can empower the sale process.
RiA : Are you planning to expand to other sectors?
Frantz : We are working with a large jewellery company to digitalise the products and provide the customer with the opportunity to try the jewellery on without physically visit the store. It would be digital on your smartphone and you would be able to try on before the purchase. We still believe that the consumers need to visit the store, but technology can convince the consumers to go and visit the store. It is an entry point.
We are also working with a furniture company that distribute different brands. When the salespersons meet with clients, they usually need a big office to show different catalogues. We help them to fit everything into an app, where they can mix and match furniture together in an interactive way.
Retail in Asia is looking forward to the next edition.