Making data reachable for retailers


  • SME
  • Monday, 28 Jan 2019

Looking bright: Chan (left) and Chua expect strong growth as retailers look to utilise data for marketing strategies.

Software helps store owners identify trends and minimise wastage from receipts

INCREASINGLY, businesses need to be able to read data more accurately and respond accordingly to ensure they are competitive, particularly so for brick-and-mortar retailers as more e-commerce players employ data analytics to scale and reach their customers.

Innergia Lab Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Vernon Chua notes that brick-and-mortar stores are already collecting a lot of data in their receipts. The trick, is to know what to make of it.

“Retailers don’t realise they can gather so much data from just their receipts. It’s like a ‘a-ha’ moment when we tell them what they can find out from the data.

“But it needs a lot of education. Big data has traditionally been targeted at a lot of the big companies because they are the ones with the money. So you get this divide between the haves and have-nots.

“Small retailers think that that’s not what they can afford. So they find it harder and harder to compete,” says Chua.

Innergia is looking to bridge that divide by offering an affordable option for retailers to mine the data from their receipts to aid them in responding to the everyday situations in their stores.

Its Sycarda software enables store owners to capture every line of data from receipts.

Information such as customers’ purchases, product pricing, time of purchase, outlet location and loyalty membership can be obtained from that little piece of paper and used to examine consumer trends that will help retailers make more effective sales decisions.

They provide insights on what items sell at which outlets, what items are often bought together, volume movement and average basket size.

Chua emphasises that Sycarda is not a point-of-sales (POS) system.

“We are a software that sits on the POS,” he says.

As such, clients need not invest in any new hardware to accommodate its software.

“We are platform-independent. There are more than 400 types of POS in Malaysia and we can work with all of them. And we are scalable. The installation won’t disrupt your business. We can capture everything your store does without the need for integration and you don’t need to provide a different set of data for this,” says business development director Justin Chan.

“We can build every report you need from this data. You can find out if customers used vouchers, discount codes or used Boost to pay. Everything is there,” adds Chan.

The company carries out on-going research into more data sets that can be interpreted from receipts to provide more insights to their customers.

Innergia started about three years ago. The team spent the first two years developing its software before bringing it to the market in early 2018.

To-date, it has spent some RM2mil in research and development (R&D).

Sycarda is currently present in more than 150 outlets across various segments including food and beverage, health labs, fashion, supermarkets and pharmacies.

For sure, there would be some form of hand-holding in the initial stage of deployment for its clients. But Chua hopes that retailers would eventually be more savvy and matured in knowing how to handle their own data.

While retailers are generally awed by Sycarda’s capabilities, many are, notably, concerned about data security.

“The data belongs to the clients. And we draw out very clearly the scope of what data we can touch or not,” assures Chua.

Another concern often raised by their customers is the lack of people who knows what to do with the data.

“So we try to make the data as readable and as understandable as possible for these businesses. We are also looking at adding more tool tips to help them know what else they can do with the data,” says Chua.

Another advantage of its system is that it helps to minimise wastage.

“For example, sometimes, employees may cheat through refunds and exchanges or loyalty benefits. Our software also capture reprints of receipts. We can track every transaction to catch pilferage and flag down discrepancies for our customers,” shares Chan.

This allows for better audit of the retailer’s store operations.

Moving forward, Innergia is hoping to integrate more functions into its software to enable retailers to use Sycarda with other parts of their operations such as the CCTV system to provide stronger audits. This will be a new pillar of growth for the company in the future.

Innergia is also looking at integrating loyalty systems, and potentially inventory systems, without retailers needing to revamp their existing infrastructure.

“It is a fairly greenfield space. And well-known providers tend to aim for the big companies. We want to work with SMEs. Our differentiator is in how we collect data. Most players require clients to provide a cleaned-up set of data to be processed. We have automated the end-to-end collection of data. There is no need for human intervention,” says Chua.

He expects to see strong growth this year with plans to hit 2,000 outlets by year-end.

The company is also looking to raise funding of about RM6mil this year to scale its operations, beef up R&D and expand regionally. Innergia has raised RM1.8mil from angel investors previously.

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Business , Innergia Labs , data analytics , SME

   

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