The future of retail has begun. And in 2015, when an idea took shape – together with two business colleagues, Phillip Raub opened a shop in Palo Alto, California, where the focus is on the customer experience. The mission: Make stationary shopping as smart and easy as online shopping. With a clear advantage – customers can test the products extensively before buying them. Meanwhile, the young company B8ta operates several stores in the US, all of which follow the same concept: Retail-as-a-Service.
There’s a big gap between the innovative products available online and what can be seen or tried in person. In 2015, we founded b8ta to create spaces where shoppers could try the latest products out of-the-box.
“Retail designed for discovery”
The principle is simple – b8ta acts as a service provider for manufacturers who rent branches of the company and can flexibly present their products and brands – from the electric toothbrush to the water carbonator and the smartwatch. Individually draped on tables in a chic ambience, the predominantly technical gadgets invite you to touch them and try them out. In addition to each product, a monitor is installed that provides manufacturer information, but can also be used to compare prices or to research customer reviews. There are no traditional salespeople, no warehouses, price tags or promotions. There is, however, comprehensive advice and a high-quality visitor experience. Because the b8ta on-site staff is primarily responsible for providing customers with an outstanding shopping experience.
Incidentally, data on the search and usage behaviour of customers via employees, software and camera is collected, evaluated and transmitted anonymously to the manufacturer. Among other things, it documents how customers handle the products, how long they are dealing with them and what questions they have about them. As a result, the b8ta stores also simultaneously function as a “test lab”. But not only the manufacturers benefit from this, the customer does too. Because the new role of the store as a place where you can’t necessarily buy all the products but can try everything out, skilfully combines the advantages of stationary and online trading. As a result, Retail-as-a-Service is already showing what will count in the future: an interesting product and service mix appealingly packaged for the customer as an experience.
And the chain of shops at nearly 20 US locations won’t be b8ta’s last project. The company intends to revive the insolvent toy giant Toys“R”Us as part of a joint venture – Philipp Raub is co-CEO. Before Christmas, stores should be opened again in the USA. The young customers and their parents can undoubtedly look forward to an interactive shopping experience.
Would you like to find out more about authentic customer experience? Meet Phillip Raub at the CCW 2020!
Phillip Raub is the co-founder and president of b8ta, a software- powered retailer designed to make physical retail accessible for product makers and exciting for consumers. In his role at b8ta, he oversees b8ta’s Retail Division. Previous to b8ta, Phillip held executive marketing roles at Nest, Nintendo and Gap.
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