Tell us more about the history of eyezon and how it got started
The company started a little over four years ago, initially as an R&D project. We didn’t launch with the idea of being a business immediately. It was a team of textual web developers, software developers, and marketing strategists.
Our main idea was to study live video as a format that would dominate not just social media but also the retail sector. We started conceptualising and exploring possibilities in its applications beyond the obvious ones.
At the end of 2018, we came up with several prototypes of different useful services for businesses and applicable in social media platforms. In 2019, we officially launched a pilot programme and started piloting the service we are selling. In February 2020, we launched as a business and product in the Eastern Europe, our initial pilot market for testing what we developed in the previous three years.
During 2020, lockdown sped up the process, much more than we initially hoped for. Since 2021, we have grown to over 50 clients in Russia and the CIS region. Among them are 20 clients who are the largest retailers in over 10 different industries, from apparel to DIY and more.
How does the product work?
We like to define our product not as specific software or specific instrument but rather as a sandbox of instruments built around one simple and very clean idea. We provide on-demand, high-fidelity emulation of the offline shopping experience for the online audience.
This product will allow an audience of any given website, app, or online sales asset to connect with a wide variety of places. This can include brick and mortar stores, warehouses, and delivery services. Users can also get a live, on-demand, personal video connection to explore, scrutinise, and ask questions about a product. Then the user can make a purchase, all within the same session. This is a one-click, seamless, and frictionless experience.
How does this work in a technical sense?
We are a cloud SAS solution that allows large-scale businesses to deploy the service within three to four working days on their main online asset in the form of script. It will then connect all their offline assets, including stores, shops, salespeople, warehouse workers, consultants, and after-sale consultants. The group of people in the offline structure are connected seamlessly to online customers through the product pages.
Embedded in the product page itself, we add a live button widget that allows the online customer to ask questions. Then, within a minute or less, that customer gets connected by smart routing to a specific salesperson in a specific store. They are provided a video connection that will allow the salesperson to present the product, answer questions, and close the deal within the same session. On average, these sessions last two to three minutes.
What are the main advantages of using the software?
If we look into this experience, it sounds very trivial. Technology-wise, it’s not that trivial. We had a very busy year in terms of data and information traffic with the pandemic, and we found some stunning numbers. In terms of sales conversion, from on-demand sales video to sales within the same online session, we are at an average of 24%. This means that one in four people who asked for video, on-demand shopping purchases within the same online session. In certain categories, this is even higher than offline brick-and-mortar stores.
It’s most certainly higher than the average online conversion, which is 1.2% to 1.3%. That is if we exclude marketplaces, where it’s somewhat higher at 6% to 7%. When it comes to other KPIs, which are very important for retail, there is a lot of other data also.
First of all, the time that is spent online in the store is almost two times higher. One person who interacted with our service on one specific product is more likely to spend twice as much time browsing and looking through the other products. Also, we have a much higher frequency of return rate after the customer experience. Almost two times the number of customers will return to the site much sooner than they usually would for future purchases.
Can the technology be used elsewhere?
We are starting to see potential application scenarios in other touchpoints of the customer journey. We’ve defined two more that open a lot of new possibilities. One of them is the format of shoppable ads. We call them this because they allow the integration of our widget and the same experience already explained into any online or offline advertisement format. This starts with context ads, banners, pre-rolls, and mid-rolls on YouTube. Any type of online advertising can be turned into a one-click entrance into a store.
Imagine that you are looking at a typical banner with a product proposal that is quite interesting and the call to action is to buy or see a product live. When you click on it, the request is immediately sent to one of the hundreds or thousands of shop assistants demonstrating the product you’re interested in. Then, within a minute, you start a video sales session with a salesperson within the same pop-up on the same page where the banner was located.
The second biggest scenario that we are expanding into right now is after-sale services. In many industries, one of the differences between strong retail platforms is what happens after the point of sale. You can sticker the QR code on the product – which is already popular with beauty, cosmetics, and DIY goods – so the customer can just point their camera on the code and find complementary products and more options.
So, in theory, this product can bring back emphasis to having a traditional salesperson?
This is actually one of our main missions. We are aiming to re-establish the area of sales; a personal, emotional storytelling connection between product streamer/sales person and those who want to sell, know how to sell, and love to sell. Those people will connect with a completely new breed of online, omnichannel customers.
It is actually creating a new profession in retail, which we call the “shop assistant streamer” or “product streamer.” A natural shop assistant salesperson who is an expert and a well-motivated, great storyteller will help grow a business’ ecosystem, almost like an influencer.
Many of our clients are already hiring on the main HR platforms. They are looking for a good salesperson in a specific industry who has a range of soft skills that will allow them to act naturally on places like Instagram, TikTok, and other live platforms.
How has the feedback been?
The feedback has been immensely positive. It is based on three main benefits that we’ve been able to deliver to retailers and acknowledged by them. First of all, it is the ease of deployment and the scalability of the instrument. This includes all the functionality described and the frictionless experience achieved in two to three weeks.
The second is that we are an ROI-positive instrument from the very first day. It’s all about sales conversions, and you see all the data and analytics in real-time. So, in every given moment, starting from day one, you understand what your margin, investment, profit is. This is based on using eyezon as a service on your website in advertisement formats and after-sale situations.
The third thing is that it allows retailers to be smart about their digital transformation. If they are omni-channel retailers, they move naturally with the inevitable transition from offline brick and mortar stores to online. This is also done in a more socially responsible way. In the long term, strategy-wise, you’re investing in the best possible influencer in the market: Your salesperson.
We have over 15 international brands and clients in Russia and the CIS region. They are now preparing to pilot in Europe, the UK, Latin America, the United States, and Southeast Asia because of these three proven benefits.
What are your plans for the next 1-2 years?
Our plan for the next couple of years is really simple. First of all, we define ourselves as a product-centric company. We want to remain focused on the product, no matter the success or growth we receive. We are also not about the competition; we don’t like to think about it. We are in a new area, and we would like the competition to spend time thinking about us.
At the moment, our company is around 70% a product company, in terms of resources, and everything else. In the next couple of years, that number will probably increase to 80% to 85% of our resources. This includes the people, team, expertise, and infrastructure involved in the business. We will be all about growing the product, expanding its functionality, and expanding the touchpoints we want to explore further. We have a huge product pipeline for the next two to three years that includes a prognosis of what will happen in the hardware market.
I’m not sure how fast we will grow in terms of business, clients, or geographical expansion. Our focus is to grow the product ecosystem – this sandbox of instruments – in the fastest way possible. In the next couple of years, we will have a lot of new product usage scenarios, new instruments, and new business models based on using the eyezon service ecosystem rather than turning into a fast-growing sales-focused company. We don’t want to turn into the next Instagram or Facebook; we don’t have that kind of ambition at all. We believe in our product and believe that what we do now will benefit us for many years to come.