Did you know that some consumers would rather stay home and wash dirty dishes than purchase items in-store? That’s according to one study, which also found that 66 percent of respondents said that that distaste for the in-store, in-person purchasing experience is due to standing in line to check out.
As a result, one company — FutureProof Retail — has made it its mission to help retailers move to a line-free mobile checkout.
“Ever since there were faster alternatives, such as online shopping, brick-and-mortar retailers have been losing the business of their busiest customers,” said Di Di Chan, cofounder and president of FutureProof. “We solve that problem directly with our simple line-free mobile checkout.”
Shoppers can use FutureProof’s clients’ apps to scan items, pay with their phone and skip checkout lines, while also saving on specials, receiving personalized recommendations and even leaving direct feedback to merchants. Another feature FutureProof offers is helping shoppers to use their phone or a standalone mobile kiosk inside the store to send their orders in ahead of time. Then, they receive a text message when it’s ready to be picked up. The mobile platform includes mobile payment and replaces the rest of the checkout process, too, which, according to Chan, boosts mobile payment usage by giving shoppers a tangible benefit.
“Retailers want our apps because we deliver the convenience and personalization benefits of eCommerce shopping into the physical stores by digitizing the relationship between them and their customers,” said Chan.
One of the unique features that FutureProof provides is that connection to customers and their feedback. Chan said that, because most retailers do not have a direct channel of communication with their shoppers, shopper feedback often gets lost at the staff level. As a result, many shoppers take to complaining publicly on social media when they want an answer.
“We solve that by giving the shoppers and merchants a direct way to communicate,” said Chan.
The company was founded and launched at the end of 2013 by Chan and William Hogben after meeting at a philosophy club earlier that year. They bonded over a shared obsession over the value of time. Chan is a self-dubbed “serial entrepreneur that’s passionate about education, sustainability and technology.”
One day, while traveling together, the flight was about to take off, and the light bulb went off after a purchase – or lack of purchase, rather – of a water bottle at an airport shop.
“We were running late, and the line was moving way too slowly. None of us had cash on hand, so we ended up abandoning our water to catch our flight,” said Chan. “I complained, and Will said, ‘I could make an app that solves that.’” Chan told him to put his money where his mouth was, and FutureProof was born.
FutureProof has worked with California Fresh Market, El Rancho Market and a slew of other clients. Chan said that, to date, the company has built a lot of software and technologies, some of which were downloaded over 24,000 times by other developers in the last month to use in their own software. “[That] is an often overlooked value and a high praise for our developers.”
California Fresh Market Co-Owner Alfred Holzheu told KSBY that his stores and larger business “rely on the statistical chance and the bag check and the fact that we have every piece of information about [shoppers]. Their name, a picture, their credit card, a photo ID.”
Chan said the biggest hurdle for the business has been timing the market. While several startups with similar ideas came before FutureProof, Chan said they didn’t do well because they were just too early.
“The adoption cycle for retail technology is very long — even the now-ubiquitous barcode took over a decade to catch on,” said Chan. “Retail historians will know that even the shopping cart was originally rejected! We overcame this by remaining persistent, patient and keeping track of the macro-market timing, while making more improvements to our technology every step of the way.”
But now, that timing is better than ever, said Chan. For the future of FutureProof and its clients, Chan said the plan is to stay one step ahead whenever possible.
“With Amazon Go coming into the market and top retailers, such as Walmart, Sam’s Club and Sainsbury’s progressing on their own versions of mobile checkout, there’s a huge demand for what we do,” said Chan. “We are an affordable and reliable solution for not just grocery stores but also retailers in other sectors, such as fashion, convenience — airports are coming to us, both locally and abroad. And we will be expanding our service into those areas as well.”