While many consumers wish to shop locally, the reality is that targeted searches for products in local stores tend to be time-consuming. For example, if you urgently need a new printer cartridge, you often go to an online retailer for next day delivery. This is where the start-up Emiigo comes in. She wants to combine local commerce with online convenience and has developed a locally available product finder in brick-and-mortar retail with real-time inventory.
Customers who do not want to resort to online shipping, for example because they need the product right away, clearly support retail, or do not want to ship an extra truck on the road for environmental reasons, can quickly find out in which store using Emiigo contactless search and map display the product can be purchased in the area (or in the region of your choice).
Stationary sellers should receive simple digital visibility via the technical interface without additional content maintenance efforts, Emiigo manages product information and assigns it to inventory data. The startup wants to introduce a beta version in August, initially near Cologne. The service is offered to dealers as a subscription model.
Emiigo founders Lisa Schlömer and Lennart Schwark want to help retailers become visible on the Internet to local consumers.
Revitalization of city centers, reduction of packaging waste and CO2
With the transition of sales to physical retail, Emiigo aims to help secure local jobs, revitalize city centers and reduce shipment volumes, hence shipping traffic and packaging waste, without customers sacrificing the convenience of online shopping. In the future, there will also be a booking function and the possibility of delivery by cargo bike.
In the long run, retailers should not only benefit from increased coverage and reduced marketing costs, but also, for example, be able to receive assortment recommendations based on frequently used search terms from customers in their area.
Etailment spoke with co-founder Emiigo Lisa Schlömer about the start-up’s plans.
Honestly and without the buzzword: how would you explain a start-up to your parents?
Nowadays, consumers know very early what product they want to buy thanks to advertising, recommendations or preliminary research. Only in the second step is the question of where to buy it. This is hard to spot for nearby stores these days, so for the sake of simplicity – but often with a bad conscience – people often order online over the Internet. With Emiigo, that’s not a problem anymore: the retail assortment in your area can be searched using a web interface that resembles an online store – for example, by specific products or by browsing categories. The map shows the stores where the product you are looking for is currently available.
The map of the area shows users the stores where the product they are looking for is currently available.
The most important advantage for retailers: making it easier for customers to shop at a local store – no shipping obligation and, thanks to our subscription model, no sales commission. In this way, sellers not only offer their repeat customers a better shopping experience, but can also acquire new customers who would otherwise order online or were unfamiliar with the company before.
How would you describe your business model to a potential partner in a tweet (280 characters)?
Search for products online and find them in nearby stores – this is possible on emiigo.de with real-time inventory and map of the area. For retail, this means: digital presence without any extra effort, reaching new customer groups and more sales. All this simply in the subscription model.
Which companies / customers have you already convinced?
We already have “a little bit of everything” on the list of our clients: several small owner-operated stores, franchise stores, and larger chain stores located throughout Germany. From various sectors such as fashion, toys, home improvement and interior decoration.
All this resulted from the initial presentations during the market research – i.e. without actually conducting sales talks by us. The actual contact with the customer only starts now.
Who would you like to do business with?
In the long term, our goal is to connect the entire stationary retail trade, meaning every boutique, every store and every chain of stores. Of course, also outside of Germany, because no matter in what area someone is looking for a store for a product – at home, on a business trip or on vacation – Emiigo should be able to answer as “one point Search”.
In the current start-up phase, we are happy to work with retailers willing to try out new approaches and willing to provide feedback. No matter if it’s a large fashion chain or a small music store. First of all, we focus on the products that consumers would like to (increasingly) buy locally. They mainly include, but are not limited to, shops from the fashion, recreational and sports industries, household appliances, DIY and small electronics.
What was the most important discovery from the beginning?
It is fascinating how much the original idea, which at that time had a slightly different purpose, has turned into the present dimension and vision. We are constantly learning and constantly taking into account feedback from new customers and partners, which makes the process extremely exciting.
The communication challenge is to assume that the phrase “digitization in retail” is often equated with “online store with (global) shipping”. We would like to break with this terminology as it is necessary to use digital instruments to combine the advantages of stationary retail with the digital world and thus attract more people to the stores.
Which number of successes are you particularly proud of?
Three immediately come to mind. First of all, our team: We are extremely pleased that from the beginning of our activity, we have received the support and advice of over 30 committed people with various skills and knowledge on a voluntary basis. This is because they like the idea of Emiigo and would like to use the solution themselves. We are now hiring the first of them!
It is also impressive that thanks to Emiigo, retailers in Germany can reach an average of 100,000 potential customers in their immediate vicinity.
Finally, this figure amazes us how many packages Emiigo can save. In Germany alone, we are already in the range of several hundred million a year. We are currently still calculating in detail the actual CO2 emissions saved or reduced returns (which often go hand in hand with commodities being shredded).
What headline would you like to read in a business newspaper about your startup in five years?
“The retail industry breathed a sigh of relief – a positive trend reversal thanks to Emiigo: both higher retail sales and fewer vacancies are convincing retailers and municipalities – with just 80% of daily parcels in circulation, the first signs of a lasting impact are visible.”