Merchant Innovation

Index Accelerates Digital Data In A Physical World

Index Funding Digital Retail Data

ECommerce retailers are seen as having some significant advantages over their brick-and-mortar counterparts — increased access to customer data and relevant analytics about how different segments shop and what they spend, being chief among them.

But with an estimated 93 percent of sales still taking place in-store, Index co-founder and CEO Marc Freed-Finnegan told Karen Webster that what retailers really need is point-of-sale data for their customers that can do down to the SKU level.

This is why Index has set its sights on building the world’s best customer database for every single retailer, Freed-Finnegan explained, to give retailers access to high-quality data necessary to improve the customer experience.

“Retailers have a very tough, if not impossible, time figuring out what the heck they did to bring that person in for that particular visit,” he added.

“Because frankly, most of the time shoppers are anonymous.”

Yesterday, (June 30), the retail software company announced that it has secured $19 million in Series B funding led by General Catalyst, along with Datalogix founder Rob Gierkink. Index confirmed that the new capital will be used to deliver that capability to more enterprise-scale retailers in the grocery, apparel and quick-service retail environments.

There are also plans to increase Index’s reach to new customers across the U.S., as well as build out the company’s engineering, product and business teams.

As part of the funding announcement, Index also shared that Gierkink, an XIR (Executive-in-Residence) at General Catalyst, will come on as chair of Index’s board of directors. David Fialkow, General Catalyst co-founder and a managing director, will also plan to join Index’s board.

Freed-Finnegan said that the company is all about bringing the advantages of eCommerce to bricks and mortar, empowering retailers to know what their customers are buying each time they shop and having a consumer’s consent to use that data to market to them in the right way.

Index’s integrated software’s methodology captures card data at the point of sale, tokenizing that data and using it as the means for attaching subsequent purchases and data to that token. Receipt data, Freed-Finnegan said, is a powerful tool for helping merchants reach their customers

“Just capturing emails in-lane every single day and building a transaction history around that is super powerful,” Freed-Finnegan pointed out.

Not only do the messages that go out to a retailer’s consumers have personalized content in them, but Index actually has the total conversion file for those messages. This allows Index to capture in-depth data such as how many promoted visits, how many promoted dollar sales and even how many promoted item sales were made for the items actually mentioned in that email.

“If our retailers tag a recommendation with a SKU or the product family and we can then not only target it, but if someone comes in and buys it, in real-time we’re showing those results so retailers understand the ROI of effective email marketing,” Freed-Finnegan added.

Freed-Finnegan noted that he is particularly excited about a recent partnership with Facebook to measure the impact of online to offline conversion. Using Facebook’s offline conversion API, Index is helping retailers to target both existing and prospective customers on the social network.

Facebook’s custom audiences allow a retailer to take its existing customers and retarget them on Facebook, while Facebook’s look-alike audiences enable merchants to analyze the demographics and attributes of an existing customer base and then suggests a broader audience to reach. Both of which, Freed-Finnegan said, allow Index to generate lists for ad targeting and see real-time conversions.

He said some campaigns resulted in more than 50 percent of consumers who saw an ad on Facebook going into the store to make a purchase that very same week. Those consumers, he noted, also spent about 18 percent more.

“Those things are happening, but if you can’t even measure them then you can’t invest in the right initiatives,” he added.

The combination of real-time visibility into the items consumers are purchasing, coupled with their consent to communicate with them based on those shopping habits, is something very unique that many brick-and-mortar retailers haven’t had before.

“No matter what you want to build – whether it’s the best consumer product or the best retailer product – you have to have a high quality data set and retailers are the only people that do,” Freed-Finnegan emphasized. “It’s only at the point of sale where you have this unique intersection of these very strong identifiers.”

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