Aug 23, 2008

Business - Best offers on shopping carts at Reliance Retail

Next time when you go to a Reliance Retail store the shopping cart might apprise you of the discounts and offers.Tech startup Blink Media has signed a deal with Reliance Retail to offer technology to power an intelligent interactive shopping cart. Apart from the shopping cart, Blink will develop products for other Reliance Retail formats such as Reliance TimeOut, Reliance Mart, Reliance Digital and Reliance Trendz. To optimise its offering, Blink has got access to Reliance Retail’s loyalty customer and transactions data. To execute the contract, Blink is looking at venture funding of around $2 million for which “we are willing to dilute up to one-third in Blink”, says co-founder Devang Raiyani. This will fund the expansion of their product team, marketing efforts and help them grow their data mining and analytics division. Blink already has a term sheet from a VC in hand. “We are open to angel funding as well as a non-VC strategic funding by an existing company,” informs Mr Raiyani. Blink was started in 2007 by Hemang Shah, Devang Raiyani and Sawan Ruparel. The technology uses an RFID-based sensor to track shoppers’ location inside a store and based on that location drives content to an interactive screen mounted on the shopping cart. Shoppers will get ads and offers on specific products as they pass through shelves. “The idea is to track the life-time value of a customer and see how we can make the customer more valuable for the store. We do this by analysing the customer and transaction data we have got from Reliance Retail,” he says. For fashion retail, Blink has developed a large interactive vertical screen called ‘magic mirror’, which senses your presence in front of it and asks what you are looking for. It visually shows you the apparel, which you could pair with others to see if they work well and whether a particular size and style is available. Here you could take a picture of yourself and using your mobile send it to a friend for advice. Blink has developed a non-interactive version of the intelligent shopping cart for Future Media that will be devoid of the location-based ads or touch interface. “These are being designed to be used in small town locations as the cost will be lower and therefore ROI will be better,” says Mr Raiyani. They haven’t agreed on pricing with Future Media yet but hope to close the deal soon. Rajeev Karwal, founder and CEO of Milagrow Business and Knowledge Solutions, recently bought a stake in the startup. Blink is looking at tapping international retail brands in markets such as Singapore, Malaysia, Dubai and Europe which are strong retail locations. “The return on capital is much higher in these mature markets,” says Mr Raiyani.

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