The majority of retailers and shopping centers have WiFi connectivity but few chose to harness its full power by communicating with their customers and potential clients. Barcelona startup Social & Beyond intends to solve this problem by leveraging the power of social networks.
“Our goal is to find a solution for retailers, combining the WiFi from shop owners with social media” says Jordi Vallejo, CEO and co-founder. In less than two years, Social & Beyond has gained the confidence of clients such as Nike, Estrella Damm and Desigual as well as other important players.
The budding business has developed a software that adjusts to the necessities of hardware producers to help businesses better understand user behavior at the point of sale.
“We started off creating a prototype for various shopping malls with our own cash” says Vallejo, ex-CTO of the also Spanish company Fon, “We offer users the possibility to connect to the WiFi networks in these shops so they can receive discounts and promotions and so the shops can forge stronger relationships with them”.
Since the users are connected they will receive offers and relevant information about their shopping experience through their browser. “What we are looking to do is increase the engagement of the users at the point of sale. For example some shops offer their visitors two hours of free WiFi for free in exchange for a “LIKE” on Facebook”. All of the activity that is conducted from a users standpoint is within the browser (we don’t want our users have to install a new app every time). The social networks are key for users to sign up and identify themselves (more than 85% utilize Facebook Connect) and be able to access promotions and share their shopping experiences.
For the first prototypes, Social and Beyond received support from Telefocnia (after passing through Wayra) and the fund 101 Startups that covered an initial seed round of €400k. This is just the start to what the company has planned to offer its clients.
It’s a touchy subject which understandably many people are uncomfortable with but commercial business are more and more interested in understanding user behavior in their stores. Using beacons, WiFi and smartphones of the consumers, these shops can see how people move through their stores; which areas they visit more, where they stop, how much time they spend in the shop, how many pass by the front of the store etc.
Social & Beyond allows exactly this, through its system of people tracking in shops. The information generated, which is completely anonymous, can later be studied by the shops allowing them to adjust their commercial strategy.
Their initial area of activity is in Spain although the company is conducting various tests in Russia, Latin America and also the US. Their business model principally consists of trying to sign partnerships with communication agencies to include their software in their clients budgets.
Social & Beyond is now in negotiations to close another round of financing close to a million euros with the short term objective of continuing with its international expansion and taking on the competition stateside such as Swirl and RetailNext which have both raised substantial rounds.
Original article: Genbata.