RainCheck has now joined up with the EverLife community to offer a limited Airdrop to those who have created EverLife.AI Avatars.
About the EverLife.AI Network
With EverLife.AI your unique immutable Avatar on the blockchain evolves over time as you train it with knowledge and skills. Your Avatar can use those skills to network with other Avatars and earn EVER tokens for yourself and your loved ones. These tokens can be used to get services from other Avatars on the Network or upgrade skills of your own Avatar to make it smarter and more resourceful.
Your Avatar connects and collaborates with millions of other Avatars and do tasks based on the skills they learn to earn EVER tokens and generate real life opportunities.
Learn more at https://everlife.ai/
Through this collaboration, the first 1000 Evernauts will receive 10 Rain Tokens each.
We are excited to announce that Raincheck – Winners of the Australian Visa Everywhere Initiative – has been selected for the first ever Visa Everywhere Initiative Asia Pacific Finals, where we’ll pitch against finalists from China, Japan, Thailand & Vietnam!
The event will take place from 12th to the 16th November 2018, at the Singapore EXPO Centre. The Singapore FinTech Festival will feature a series of exciting events including FinTech Conference & Exhibition, Global FinTech Hackcelerator Demo Day, AI in Finance Summit, FinTech Awards, Innovation Lab Crawl, Workshops, and an expanded Investor Summit comprising of “FinTech Deal Day” and a new component “Meet ASEAN’s Talents and Champions (MATCH)”.
Learn more about the event at https://fintechfestival.sg/
RainCheck unites online shoppers with offline purchases, generating an on-demand shopping experience.
RainCheck aims to deliver solutions on the online shopping problem; majority of people are now browsing products online, but only few close the purchase.
Co-Founder and CEO Cameron Wall says, ‘We found that there was a lot of people obviously saving items into their list. I think the average basket size from online was about just over a hundred dollars but the average basket size in store was probably 2.5 times the size of that.’
With 90 percent of people researching new products online, 90 percent of purchases continue to take place in offline in-store.
The company has built, designed and launched its RainCheck app which facilitates people to use their mobile device to choose a brand, save preferred items in a shopping cart to a ‘wishlist’, where users then receive notifications when a product is available in nearby stores.
Cameron Wall states, ‘Raincheck is transcending online to offline so it’s a layer that plays that whole ecosystem.’
As we are living in an online world, people are taking on a multichannel approach when shopping, hence much more focus should be pointed to transforming the online shopping to in-store purchasing.
‘I think there’s a big opportunity for everyone’s discovering things online. But let’s try and work out what store they went into when they went there whether we converted them and if they actually bought the item. I think that’s more important for brands to understand that’, says Cameron Wall.
Digital devices have a significant influence on in-store sales according to GeoMarketing, Mobile phones will influence $1.4 trillion in offline sales within the next 5 years.
The sales that Mobile influenced in 2016 account for over one-third of total retail in online and offline sales. (GeoMarketing)
Retail has shifted to using technology to close the sales to an extent that it is both contextual and consistent. RainCheck creates relationships with consumers and assists in determining the sale and retail journey, making it personal.
RainCheck transcends the future for retailers to establish balance of power, measure the online to offline conversion of sales and target online users that ensue in-store activity and purchases.
‘Our original mission is transcending the online and offline worlds and that’s what we’re focused on and everything that happens around that’, says Cameron Wall.
RainCheck is a digital channel that transforms the digital and physical systems of retail shopping. For the consumers, there is the opportunity to obtain both an online shopping request and an in-store experience.
As the data shows, about 85% of people prefer browsing online, but make a purchase in-store. People are afraid of bad material quality or that the thing may not fit. While just viewing goods, users are not particularly eager to click on “Buy” and purchase them online. Thus appeared a gap which the whole eCommerce is stuck in. It is RainCheck that can fulfill this loophole. So, let’s look deeper what RainCheck is and what use it can bring for customers and sellers.
What is RainCheck?
RainCheck is an O2O Commerce Platform aiming at transcending the online and offline worlds. This platform is based on DLT, or in other words, blockchain, while the other instances run on the AWS Cloud Environment. The RainCheck platform allows sellers to track online product discovery to in-store sale. This platform doesn’t use Ethereum network, like many other do, it will be built using Stellar Network that works for non-complex applications through simple smart contracts. It means that all the transactions will be recorded forever in the Stellar Consensus Protocol. SCP has some safety properties that optimize for safety over liveness, it pauses the progress of the network until consensus can be reached. SCP simultaneously enjoys four key properties: asymptotic security, decentralized control, flexible trust, and low latency. This makes the RainCheck platform unique. Furthermore, the platform has already won several awards, including the Visa Everywhere Initiative and the Accenture Consumer Tech Award in Singapore.
What are the main advantages of RainCheck?
By using this platform, users obtain the most updated information about the product presented at the right time and place, so that it will narrow the gap between online and offline shopping. All the products discovered online can be saved, moreover, the user will get notified information about the time when the product is available in nearby stores.
The platform also includes such positive aspects as:
gulping the product information data including stock levels from different eCommerce platforms such as Neto, Magento, Demandware, Shopify;
accumulating the data of the product for the customer;
allowing users to save a product item into the Cloud;
involving backend integration to payment scheme API’s, PSP’s and banks;
using Geo-fencing technology;
analyzing hundreds of data points;
offering a card-linking capability to users of debit and credit cards. The platform works closely with payment card schemes such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, along with Payment service Providers (PSP).
Every party will benefit from this platform. For example,
Shoppers – The user will be rewarded with reward points or even cash-back if the purchase is performed either online or offline.
Retail brands – The data analysis function can measure digital marketing attribution to a landing page or website so that the sellers can find out all the information. The platform can track that sale all the way from the digital marketing call-to-action (CTA).
Payment Service Providers (PSP) – They can set fees and/or make a commision from successful online payments, they are also in a good position to capture offline transactions.
The ICO starts on November 5 and will last for 1 month till December 5. The RAIN Token is based on Stellar and costs $0.04. The soft cap is marked at 6,000,000 USD, while the hard cap is 28,000,000 USD. The total supply of RAIN Tokens is 2,000,000,000. The distribution pool accounts for 35% of tokens. The RAIN Token sale will be conducted through OST KYC.
The Coin Shark does not endorse and is not responsible for or liable for any content, accuracy, quality, advertising, products or other materials on this page. Readers should do their own research before taking any actions. The Coin Shark is not responsible, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on any content, goods or services mentioned in the article.
Article by Coin Shark – https://thecoinshark.net/raincheck-o2o-platform-aims-to-change-ecommerce-world/
Many people have asked me why we chose to build our Token project on the Stellar protocol, and my answer is quite simple. If we had built our project on the ERC-20 standard (Ethereum), it would have failed. In fact, I believe that almost all projects backed onto the Ethereum chain will fail, here is why.
It was June of 2017 and I was discussing using the Blockchain or DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology), with my cofounder Will, to solve a massive problem that loyalty had in the retail brand space. It was a no-brainer really as we could extend our existing online-to-offline (O2O) platform to capture loyalty as well and using the distributed ledger ticked a lot of boxes.
The next task was for us to evaluate what chains existed that we could leverage to build out or solution on. The obvious choice was Ethereum as it was widely being used by many projects and there was a lot of hype around it at the time as they had an ERC-20 standard that supported smart contracts. We ended up deciding on the Stellar protocol and we are so happy we did, below is a summary of that journey and how we got to where we are today.
At the time Ethereum was relatively new to the Blockchain world still, and was, basically a distributed programming platform — scripting software for autonomous organizations and ownerless apps. Described by Vitalik Buterin (co-founder of Ethereum), himself as
“Ethereum is a modular, stateful, Turing-complete contract scripting system…our goal is to provide a platform for decentralized applications.”
Now if you are going to build a project that is truly decentralized with no central decision making, Ethereum is a great choice. But most blockchain companies don’t need smart contracts to execute their core business logic or want to circumvent the legal or jurisdictional problem. They just want to issue digital assets and process transactions. That’s exactly where Ethereum will let you down.
If you are building a project where tokens will be issued where they need to be traded quickly and at low cost then Ethereum will fail every time. Our project involved issuing tokens that needed to be used in a retail environment while transactions were happening in near real-time, this was a concern.
With all tech projects you start from the user experience and work back from there, and using the Ethereum chain we would have been in big trouble from day one. To confirm this we observed tests that were carried out between April and May this year 2018. The results and methodology can be found here on GitHub.
Problem 1: Your most enthusiastic users will have the worst experience.
Ethereum queues transactions on a per-account basis, and yet miners don’t prioritize transactions by wait time. In fact, given transactions with equal gas prices, miners are assigned them at random. So an active account builds up a transaction queue, and the network has no mechanism to clear it. The result, for high-volume accounts, is an ever-increasing transaction lag.
Ethereum processes transactions using two numbers, a transaction nonce (what we’ll call the “nonce”) and an account nonce that, for clarity, we’ll sometimes call the “count”. The transaction nonce puts an account’s transactions in order; the account nonce counts whenever one of them is mined. When a new transaction, with its nonce, is submitted, Ethereum compares that nonce to the current count to decide what to do. If the transaction’s nonce is lower than the count, the transaction is ignored. If it’s higher, the transaction is delayed. Only if/when the nonce matches the count can the transaction move into a block. Here’s a simplified diagram of how it works:
This is actually very similar to the “please take a number” systems you see at a deli or at a government office like the DMV, and it’s a fairly common way to prevent replay attacks. Lots of other chains do something similar. However, Ethereum’s transaction-to-block algorithm (or, really, lack thereof) adds the wrinkle that the people working your DMV window here — the miners — aren’t necessarily accountable to the next number in line.
As you can see in the graph below, Ethereum mining is dominated by a few select mining pools — the four largest miners account for a whopping 70% of the Ethereum hash rate.
Miners often have their own criteria for the transactions they’ll accept. Many only accept high-gas-price transactions. Some only accept their own transactions. Miners like these will let block space go unused before filling it with something from your queue. So now imagine a DMV where certain windows are telling people “sorry can’t help you,” while more people file into the waiting room every second and you have all these jokers in front of you who have to get helped before you can even talk to someone — and, voila, you have some idea of how Ethereum handles transactions.
We weren’t aware it worked like this until after we tried to implement Kik’s load spec: 480 accounts each submitting 1 txn/minute on average for 3 hours. That’s 86,400 total transactions, an average of 8 per second.
We spun up the test, using ETH Gas Station’s “standard” estimates for gas, expecting a median confirmation time of about 30 seconds, and, lo and behold, 13 hours later, more than half of our transactions still hadn’t made it into a block. We stopped the test at 13h and 50m, and 50.1% of our transactions were missing. (Reminder: the raw data is in our GitHub, if you want to check our work.) We thought we’d messed up somehow, but, no. We had just created a bunch of long lines, and some jabroni transactions had stood there all day doing nothing.
When you read elsewhere about “Ethereum transaction times”, the posted numbers almost always suppose a single, one-off event. They do not pertain in an application-level environment. We ran the Kik test again just to really make sure we were doing everything right, spending another 6.9 ETH, and we got essentially the same result.
Here’s a typical experience from that run — this is just the account that happened to be first alpha-numerically. You can see the wait times grow as transactions pile up.
It’s one thing to talk about “settlement time” in the abstract. But think about the above data in terms of actual user experience. The more someone uses your Ethereum app, the slower it goes. After just three hours, their transactions are taking 8 hours to confirm.
Of course Kik’s test spec said we should submit transactions for three hours and then stop, so that’s what we did. In the real world, you can’t build in downtime to allow the count to catch up — so in theory transaction queues just get worse and worse. In practice, of course, as your Ethereum app becomes unresponsive, users will help it catch up, by leaving.
Here’s the performance distribution from that second test. I trimmed the slowest 5% so the long-tail doesn’t skew the overall picture.
For comparison, this is what Kik measured running the same spec (on Stellar.)
I just grabbed this plot from their post, and I don’t have the original data, so I can’t show my results on the same chart. But using the magic of computers, I can at least overlay the curves:
Everything looks comparable until you notice the x-axes. The waits we measured on Ethereum are 3,000 times longer. That’s the queuing problem in a nutshell.
This performance issue is currently a fundamental part of Ethereum. Improvements like sharding or Casper are promising in theory, but those will be complex fixes layered over Ethereum’s almost maximal complexity. Something like lightning can rely on Bitcoin’s inherent simplicity; whereas there’s nothing basic to fall back on here. A skyscraper is usually built on bedrock, not on top of another skyscraper, yet that is what a lot of Ethereum scaling solutions propose to do.
The only certain performance improvement is to spend more on gas and hope to plow through each account queue faster. We in fact did that in a third three-hour trial — which we ran because of our “we should do what we can to make this work” commitment.
The previous two tests had used the “standard” ETH Gas Station recommendation. We used the “fast” tier (≈4 Gwei at the time) for the third and spent 11.8 ETH on our 480 accounts.
Performance improves — to only 500 times slower than Kik’s results on Stellar — but it’s still not fast enough. The backlog builds and payments hang around with nothing to do.
Problem 2: Very High Cost of Wide Adoption
Ever thus to power users. But Ethereum is also unsuitable for the other kind of adoption, what you might see with an app like, I dunno, Etsy, where instead of a few people going deep, you have lots of people checking in every once in a while. That’s because an Ethereum app’s per-user costs go up quickly as it adds users, and that’s why you see stuff like 70x price spikes whenever anyone tries using the network across many accounts.
We captured this data incidentally, looking for a workaround to the queueing problem. To keep transactions from piling up, we refactored the Kik spec as follows: instead of a few accounts submitting a bunch of transactions, we spun up a bunch of accounts (28,800) and had each of them just do a single transaction. To stick to the original test’s guideline of 8 total txn/s we submitted the transactions over the course of an hour.
Curiously, this didn’t actually help performance very much. The median confirmation time was 23 minutes — actually slower than the “fast” test above. Even weirder, some of the first transactions we submitted were the last to confirm:
We knew account queues couldn’t be the issue. It turned out that as soon as our transactions started hitting the network, miners’ fees soared. So our earliest transactions, submitted with pre-test “standard” pricing, were quickly priced-out. They lingered in low priority for hours.
We had discovered another of Ethereum’s negative reinforcement loops. Adding users immediately scales cost. In the real world, increasing the number of units implies lower per-unit costs. Basically the whole private sector is built on this idea — “economy of scale”. But here: each incremental user immediately increases the per-user cost. It’s like bizarro economics.
You can see prices climbing ≈6x over the short 1-hour run of our test.
Again, the built-in time limit of the test makes everything look more sustainable than it actually is. Extrapolate this chart out and drop the needle somewhere in the middle. What do your per-user costs look like after two weeks of steady usage? Two years?
The above test cost us $1,445 for a single hour. It ran when gas prices were low, just ≈1 Gwei for standard speed, and it puttered along at just 8 transactions a second. To run a basic test, that’s $12.6m a year.
If you apply that cost structure to a real business, you see that Ethereum’s fees are already unsustainably high. For example, PayPal does about 240transactions a second. Put aside the performance fixes it would take to make that happen and put aside the rising-price dynamic I just documented. If PayPal had been built on Ethereum and paid our observed rate, they would’ve laid out $380m in network fees last year. That would’ve been 21% of their net income, and, again, that’s pretending that you could somehow freeze prices.
An idealized version of Ethereum won’t work for one of the most profitable transactional businesses in the world. How is the real version going to work for the rest of us?
“If you want to build a decentralized Uber and Lyft on top of an unscalable Ethereum, you are screwed. Full stop.” — Vitalik Buterin
I encourage you to watch the full panel this quote came from — it shows four of the most important members of the Ethereum team saying a lot of what I’ve been saying here. When today’s high-profile ICO becomes tomorrow’s cautionary tale, it will only be bad for everyone in the ecosystem, and they know it.
There’s no doubt that the Ethereum community is the strongest in blockchain, and there very likely wouldn’t be token economies at all without Vitalik’s vision. It’s not Ethereum’s fault that developers are asking from the tech what it was never meant to deliver. It’s the people chasing last year’s ICO dollars, regardless of what’s actually the right tool. Ethereum’s problems all start with misguided entrepreneurs. Don’t become another one of them.
If you’re building a transactional app, the protocol will not support the behavior your users will expect. I have immense respect for the ambition and the complexity of Ethereum, but I’ve come to see it as blockchain haute couture. Beautiful, intricate, high-concept, high-minded. And not what you wanna wear to work.
If you want trustless, distributed computation — if that’s really what you’re building — definitely use it. If you never plan to actually launch anything, Ethereum’s great for that, too — just ask the over 50% of ICO projects who disappear after their token sales, if you can find them. They’ve already hit the Great Filter. And likely some beach in Puerto Rico.
But if you want to build a business that sticks around like we are — if you plan a typical user-to-user service and don’t need to tie up your business logic in a smart contract — if you plan to issue a digital asset and you plan to transact at high volumes as a core part of your strategy, pick a platform that is optimized for that. Do what we did, and build on Stellar.
Cameron Wall CEO & Co-Founder, RainCheck
Credits: Contribution by Christian at StellarX and Tomer Weller designed and ran the load tests and provided technical guidance for this post.
Providing consumers with a loyalty program in the digital age is simple and fast. But, there is regularly a substantial divide between the numbers of programs in which consumers join and the number in which they actively engage.
Co-Founder and CEO of RainCheck, a Decentralized Loyalty and Rewards Platform, Cameron Wall states,
‘Obviously people who shop online and offline are much more valuable than people that just shop online.’
Loyalty should be like other new technologies, simple, logical, clear and valuable. Rewards should be acquired, exchanged and used at any loyalty program, and accessible everywhere.
During a short period of the pilot it was measured ‘1.8 million dollars in merchandise that was RainChecked, and that basically led us to the point of understanding, did the transaction occur’. ‘And that’s that’s when we went into the phase of tackling that problem and integrating the payments side of it so that we could close the whole loop’, says Wall.
The RainCheck Platform based on Stellar will establish RAIN Tokens. In applying the distributed ledger technology, people will be able to acquire loyalty and reward points in a smooth way from any retail brand and use it to share or convert them into a service unit that can be used at other retail brands.
Having multiple brands accessible to consumers, via online channels, indicates that there are a great number of reward programs that are driven by various loyalty programs.
The arrival and access of online channels sets loyalty programs to be tailored to the consumer and pertinent through the use of mobile apps and in-store engagement. RainCheck delivers instant content that enables the shoppers loyalty program to be more personalized and consistent across frequent purchases.
‘We basically make money from the platform play. So we license the platform out to the brands if they want to use all the different modules for their own app or we actually can click the ticket on loyalty on the payment side’, says Wall.
‘Loyalty is a big one on card linking so linking offers and loyalty points to everything on payment cards’ says Wall.
RainCheck adopt and focus more on a SKU level of the card-linking approach in order for shoppers to save money on purchases by linking their payment cards to a merchant, cash-back or loyalty program.
Wall continues, ‘So it’s sort of a cloud platform it’s quite flexible depending on what the retail brand wants to do because they all want to do different things.’
RainCheck establishes a decentralized loyalty and rewards platform that can combine reward points across a number of loyalty programs. It aims to allow the consumer to pass reward points for one program to another. Shoppers will now have the opportunity to collect their points into one unit and use at that one loyalty program, or even share points to a third party.
Establishing a simple, logical, clear and valuable loyalty program will lower the increasing debt that is owed, as well as managing the level of loyalty contentment of it’s program shoppers.
The business of selling products in retail stores is facing many challenges. One of the most fundamental is: What should a retail store be? That used to be simple — stores have stuff and they want to sell it. Now, technology and cultural changes have caused us to question how it should be done. Stores need to rethink the best way to serve customers and what functions a store should serve.
Lest you think stores are going away, keep in mind that no one has created a more effective mode for converting browsers into customers and building brand loyalty than physical stores. So no, stores are not vanishing. But they are going to change and right now no one knows exactly how. We are going to see more new ideas, more experimentation, more adaptation of concepts than ever before.
For now, brands have to ask themselves:
Do I need physical stores of my own or can I sell my products in someone else’s store?
If I need my own stores, how big should they be? At the recent Etail East conference, Jared Blank of Bluecore said, “the genius of Bonobos was that stores don’t have to be 5,000 square feet in a mall, they can be 1,000 square feet.” Blank was referring to the men’s brand that lets you try on clothes in the store but doesn’t have any inventory to sell; anything you buy gets shipped to you from their warehouse after purchase.
How much inventory should a store have and how should that be balanced with inventory online in a way that’s appropriate for every product and brand?
Can holding inventory in a store be justified when the cost of the space to display and store it is so high and there’s a risk that it will become obsolete?
What else should be happening in stores besides selling stuff?
The answers to these questions are going to be different for different types of products, tires aren’t jewelry. The answers that retailers come to will determine their success or failure. Their ability to try new things will create all new sorts of retail stores that no one has ever seen before. That’s a huge challenge for retailers, but for consumers, it’s fun and interesting to watch it evolve.
There won’t be one answer or one right way or one genius who figures it out, it takes a team and collaboration to find the best solutions. At a panel I moderated recently at Etail East, Scott Friend of Bain Capital Ventures said when talking about companies they invest in, “We can’t know what will happen next. We find people who are smart about what will happen.” On the same panel, Anna Palmer of X Factor Ventures, said about the future of physical stores, “We take products where the people are,” and isn’t that the ultimate goal of a retail store?
Recently I spoke with a number of companies whose services and functions complement, compete with and challenge what stores have always done. They are all innovative and interesting and where it goes now will ultimately be up to consumers.
RevCascade facilitates drop shipments from wholesalers to consumers. What that means is — let’s say you go to a store and they don’t have what you want. A sales associate shows you a tablet or screen that displays what you’re looking for. It appears to be the store’s inventory at another location but it’s really the inventory of the store’s wholesale supplier. You can buy it on the screen and the wholesaler ships it directly to you at your home. You never know you bought something from the store’s wholesale supplier, you think you bought it from the inventory of the store at another location.
You may think that’s not such a big innovation. But one retailer that has about $2 billion in revenue starting using RevCascade and did over $50 million in additional sales using RevCascade in the first year. That’s not a small change; if that retailer has gross margins of 35%, there’s very little incremental costs and they’re adding profit of over $17 million with no reduction of anything else. For the right retailer, RevCascade is offering the possibility of meaningful incremental sales and profits.
More important, RevCascade raises the question of what should a store be? If you’re going in and buying off a screen, why not just stay home and do it on your own screen? The obvious answer is that RevCascade is turning visitors who didn’t find what they want into happy customers and that’s good for everyone. But if stores are doing that, do they really need so much inventory in their stores? Shouldn’t they just have stores that give consumers a reason to come in, like entertainment, and then help them buy things on screens? If the inventory isn’t required to be in the store, wouldn’t it make more sense to have stores do many more things to attract customers than just hold inventory. It raises the question of “store experience” to a different level of importance.
The answer will be different for every retailer because their interaction with their customer, their brand meaning and their actual product lines are all different. But with a facility like RevCascade, a retailer has to rethink what it’s providing and what gives it a competitive edge.
You can take the RevCascade concept to an extreme. Nordstrom has a store in Los Angeles that carries no inventory. If you shop online and they have the inventory in another store, you can go to the “Nordstrom Neighborhood” store and pick up your product within two hours of ordering. Or you can bring products you bought online into the Neighborhood store for alterations. Or you can meet with a personal shopper, get advice, and have the products in your home on the same day. In their new men’s store in New York, Nordstrom uses the store to allow customers to pick up products 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you arrived on a visit to New York and forgot something, a person will come out the door of the store in the middle of the night to give you what you ordered online. It makes the store much more than a place to look at things and decide whether to buy or not.
ShopShops is everything you already know about Home Shopping Network, QVC and Evine. Except there’s no studio, ShopShops creates videos that take place in retail stores and it showcases the products that are in the store. There’s also no TV necessary, ShopShops livestreams its events online only. It’s live but it can also be replayed later and the same products can be ordered if they’re still available. At the moment it is being used mostly by Chinese viewers who see American stores when they’re closed. There’s no reason why ShopShops can’t create events when the stores are open, it could potentially make a store a more interesting and exciting place to be for the customers who are in the store when the event is taking place.
Simpletire sells tires but they don’t keep any inventory themselves. You go to their site, enter what tires you need and Simpletire uses its buying power to find you the best price. Then you go to the installation center or automotive shop it has found nearest you and the tires are shipped there and installed by the local store. You may say that’s not so innovative, there are a lot of marketplaces selling products in other people’s stores. That’s true but typically not for products that require custom installation on your device by store employees, Simpletire is unique that way. They are leading customers to automotive installation shops that would not have found them otherwise.
Maison Marche is a startup so there’s no telling how this business model will develop. It was created by Sarah Easley who is known for her past experience curating a well-respected, high-end women’s fashion boutique in downtown Manhattan. Maison Marche creates pop-up stores in private homes, curated by Maison Marche and managed by hosts who invite their friends over to shop. The clothes are not made or even owned by Maison Marche — the company gets designers and merchants to consign the goods for 1-2 days and the host and Maison Marche each get a percentage of the sale. Maison Marche creates a template with detailed instructions about how to organize, curate and run an in-home popup shop and advises hosts with any questions.
Brideside sells dresses for bridesmaids. Unlike most retailers that invest in real estate leases, Brideside invests in stylists, who give personal advice to brides and bridesmaids. You may say that’s just like Stitch Fix or other personal styling sites. But it isn’t, Brideside organizes its services around physical spaces where brides and bridesmaids get together with their stylist, often as a group, in person or virtually, to decide which dresses complement the big event. Sometimes that physical space is a Brideside showroom in the four cities where they have them. In most places however, it’s the home of the bride or one of the bridesmaids where they organize a try-on event with sample dresses and guidance from Brideside. It’s a unique model that leverages physical space and virtual styling. The stylists help the brides and bridesmaids organize their bridesmaid dress event from beginning to end without the company incurring the cost of stores.
David Kind is also a startup and it sells luxury eyeglasses online but has a component that is different. Eyeglass retailers that want to carry the David Kind line don’t buy the glasses wholesale, they pay a fee for being loaned some inventory. The retailers can then sell the products from the inventory they have or they can lead a consumer to the David Kind website. When the retailer guides a consumer using the David Kind website, the consumer gets a link that allocates the sale to the retailer who then gets a part of the purchase price.
Reflaunt hasn’t launched, they are only now going into an incubator. They bridge the market for consumer products with the market for resale of previously-owned products. Reflaunt puts a button on the site where you buy product that enables you to list the product for resale or donate/recycle it when you’re done using it. If you’ve ever leased a car, you know that leasing is great when you want to always be driving a car that’s less than two or three years old. Reflaunt is the same idea. Once you’ve worn or used a product for a while, if facilitates an easy sale of what’s already in your closet so you can make room for the next new thing. Reflaunt is taking advantage of the very high growth in the resale market, increase customers’ purchasing power and help consumers enhance sustainability in the fashion industry.
All of these companies are changing the way merchants think about their stores. The innovations that young companies are making will increase and there will be lots of opportunities for consumers to benefit from the changes. And isn’t that great?
Article by Richard Kestenbaum
Read more at: https://www-forbes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.forbes.com/sites/richardkestenbaum/2018/08/22/retail-innovation-etail-nordstrom/amp/
RainCheck brings to the blockchain and cryptocurrency markets, a global loyalty & rewards points exchange aggregator based on the Stellar blockchain. Cameron Wall, Co-founder of Raincheck will be discussing the project with us in this interview.
1) Could you please tell us about yourself?
I started out in the ICT industry the year after I left school in 1984 when the Macintosh PC was released. I have seen the birth of network computing and the Internet, and the Blockchain will eclipse them all. I have founded six tech startups along the way and RainCheck is my current venture and is really exciting as it opens up O2O Commerce for the first time.
2) What is RainCheck?
The RainCheck platformallows retail brands to both track and influence online product discovery to in-store sales. We also offer card-linking (debit & credit), where people can add offers, loyalty points or cash-back to any debit or credit payment card. The main difference is that we can do this at SKU-level not just at the merchant level.
We are extending the platform capability now using the Stellar DLT to decentralize loyalty reward points on a global scale. The Stellar open-protocol is the only network that can handle ultrafast transactions at almost zero cost which makes it perfect for retail brand loyalty rewards.
3) What inspired you to start building a loyalty and rewards exchange aggregator?
The sheer frustration of earning rewards points in siloed programs and never having enough points in and single program to earn a valid reward. I thought why can’t loyalty points be more like actual currency and be traded cross-border and cross-program? The Blockchain can allow this to be realized and we started building the solution.
4) The loyalty and rewards niche is one of the crowded and competitive niches in the cryptocurrency space. What makes RainCheck different from all your competitors out?
We have the only solution that uses and underlying open-protocol that can handle the transaction speed and cost needed to be successful. Other solutions built on the Ethereum chain (ERC-20) will simply not be able to handle the transaction flow at a cost that is sustainable to work correctly, in fact, any project built on Ethereum will struggle to be successful in its current state.
5) What are some of the problems you see with existing crypto and non-crypto based loyalty and rewards programs.
As I have just stated, the chain that a loyalty and rewards solution is built on will be critical and will be the source of failure. Existing non-crypto programs have a huge issue with the value of rewards that are owed to people sitting on balance sheets as a liability, sometimes in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Also, payment card interchange fees are being reduced which means that many programs are under pressure to offer real value.
6) How will RainCheck change how the rewards are received and used?
Firstly, a majority of retail brands do not have a loyalty program as the CapEx cost is a barrier, and existing reward offers are based on maybe your birthday or some other customer factor. RainCheck will allow a simple cloud-based solution where onboarding is simple and fast for a retail brand, they can be up and running in a matter of days. The RainCheck solution utilizes peoples existing payment cards as the unified loyalty card and rewards, offers and even cash-back is seamless and requires no action from either the loyalty member of the actual store associate.
All reward points will be backed onto the RAIN Token which is a digital currency meaning they can be transferred between all participating programs. As the ecosystem builds and expands then larger loyalty coalitions can join their programs as well.
7) How will Blockchain technology help the RainCheck accomplish these things?
All retail brands hold a set value on the quality of their products and that value is set in the value of their reward point value. For example, 1 point from brand x could equal $0.05c yet 1 point from brand y is $0.1c by using Smart Contracts we can aggregate this points together and make the stored value transferrable. It is a bit like the way fiat currency is remitted cross-border. The Stellar Blockchain is the only true decentralised network that can handle that solution at scale within a few seconds at almost zero cost.
8) Can you tell us more about the technology and components of the RainCheck that makes it function?
The entire RainCheck Platform has been built from the ground up to be open and fully scalable with all instances running on the AWS Cloud Environment. The platform is broken into a couple of modules that all interconnect and can be run at multiple instances, or individually, depending on the services required at the time.
– Product Feed (Online)
– Inventory Feed (Stores)
– O2O Wishlist
– Stripe payment gateway
– Stellar based digital currency wallet
– Geofence and Beacon technology
– Connected POS & Card-Linked Offers
– POS integration – Tokenization card
– Push Notifications
– Data Analytics
– Loyalty as a service to integrate loyalty into payment
– DLT based loyalty reward points system
9) What are some of the detractors associated with your platform and how do you intend to remedy it?
We are still building the SKU-level Card-Linked Offers, which requires POS software integration. We are working with POS/Payment Terminal vendors like Ingenico to streamline this process.
We are still building the Stellar based wallet to check the balance of their digital currency, track digital currency transactions, check loyalty points from different merchants, manage loyalty points with RAIN Tokens etc.
10) How does RainCheck’s token offer integral and functional value to your ecosystem? Why is it necessary?
The current payment technology and infrastructure cannot support the payment and reward point aggregation requirement of RainCheck the ecosystem. We need to leverage the Stellar based RAIN token to achieve an integrated payment service based on DLT. The RAIN token can also link all features across the O2O shopping, overseas commerce, loyalty ledger and digital currency wallet in the whole RainCheck ecosystem.
11) How much do you intend to raise in the RainCheckToken Sale and what are the steps for contributing?
We want to raise $28M which is the mark for the hard cap, with a soft-cap of $6M. We will use the funds to build and deploy the DLT based components globally. A large portion of the funds will be used to promote the O2O shopping, overseas commerce and the DLT based loyalty program globally. We will also invest in some technology and/or companies, which are closely related to our eco-system.
We are currently in Pre-sale phase and interested supporters can register with the project from the ICO website https://www.raintoken.org/.
12) What’s going to happen to the RainCheck after the token sale concludes and what where do you see things in 5 years?
As the business is well established already and a large part of the tech is completed we will execute our go-to-market strategy. The RAIN Token project will bind a lot of what we are doing in the O2O space together. In 5 years from now we see the RainCheck ecosystem working globally with many brands and offering cross boarder loyalty and rewards aggregation build into existing payment networks.
13) RainCheck has a fair bit of competition in the loyalty and rewards niche. Can you give some details on your sales and marketing strategy to get market share? How do you intend to beat your competitors here?
First of all, as I have mentioned above we are launching on the Stellar open-protocol which can handle the transaction speeds and almost no cost that any loyalty and rewards system will need to survive. Most of the other solutions are based on Ethereum and the chain cannot handle what is required to be successful at this point.
Also via our global strategic partnerships such as IBM we plan to attract the right retail brands at the right time. This also allows us to enter new markets quite easily.
“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation.” — Dean Kamen
Almost 70% of shoppers globally belong to a loyalty program, yet most people, although accumulating these reward and/or loyalty points, seem to hardly use them. The main reason being that they can never accumulate enough points required to exchange for a worthwhile reward and when they do, it is difficult to achieve — like a seat or class upgrade with an airline.
Many loyalty programs and coalitions have major issues with massive accumulations of points sitting on their balance sheets as liabilities. These points are viewed as money that is owed to people, sometimes this in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Both display clear problems that are on each sides of the equation, for the consumer and the brand loyalty program.
Loyalty in many cases has become a sales tool, like a discount or sale campaign in disguise, to look like a benefit for a customer’s purchases. Choice is the main driver when it comes to shopping today and people have many screens and of course windows to see merchandise Despite this, many gravitate back to where the loyalty program resides and that, in many cases, is in-store and not always online.
Onboarding consumers to a loyalty program in the digital age is a lot easier and faster than ever, but there is often a large gap between the number of programs in which shoppers are enrolled and the number in which they actively participate. Make no mistake, loyalty programs are intended to ultimately increase a retailer’s share of the consumer’s wallet. While two-thirds of global respondents who participate in loyalty programs (67%) somewhat, or strongly agree, that they join these programs only to get free products or discounts. The advent of digital channels opens up loyalty programs to be personalised for the consumer through the use of mobile apps, email and in-store interaction. This allows the loyalty program to be more customised for each member of the program and influence repeat purchase behaviour.
Financial rewards are the most highly-valued loyalty program benefits for members of all ages. But product discounts, cash back or rebates are rated higher by older respondents than by their younger counterparts, where personal offers and products are seen as a benefit.
Having a loyalty card or other form of loyalty identification at checkout is still required in just about all major programs. In many cases this has led to large, heavy wallets and/or loyalty card apps on our mobile phones. In 2018 this should not be the case as loyalty should seamlessly be part of the payment process.
Loyalty should be like other new technologies, simple, seamless, cross-border and rewarding. That technology is now here and its based on the Blockchain.
The Decentralized Ledger Technology (Blockchain), that is available to us today will revolutionise every industry sector on a global scale. What has taken the Internet and World Wide Web to achieve in 25 years we predict will be transformed in far less than half that time.
It will decentralize stored value, accumulated via a loyalty program or scheme, into a stored value transferable unit. This will have a clear offering to a loyalty scheme participant, but also to the organization distributing the reward units, or points, via their proprietary loyalty scheme.
Today’s consumer shops via the omni-channel method, starting their path to the final purchase from a call-to-action from one of many screens, (mobile, laptop, desktop, digital billboard etc.), researching on Social media, talking with friends and of course visiting stores. Loyalty has now been reduced to the approach that a repeat purchase will equal more reward points.
Having so many brands available to the average consumer, via digital channels, means that there are hundreds of reward programs run by multiple loyalty schemes. In many cases these programs are unified in larger scheme coalitions and run by large global organisations such as airlines or payment card schemes.
After many months of evaluation, the team at RainCheck believe that the best DLT platform to build that technology on is the Stellar platform.
The Stellar project is one that has been seen as having great potential to influence the financial sector. Besides its primary focus of providing a network for faster and cheaper cross-border payments, the project is also able to hold tokenized assets and coin offerings. More voices from the crypto space believe that it will eventually become the crypto of choice for Central Banks all over the world.
Stellar is the only DLT technology that allows funds to be sent and received very quickly and almost at no cost, and that makes it a perfect network to handle a loyalty rewards system.
Thanks to Amazon’s latest shareholder letter, we know its formidable Prime subscription service now has 100 million members who order more than 5 billion products a year.
Competing retailers have rolled out comparable two-day (and faster) delivery options, but Prime sets a high bar with streaming movies, TV and music, as well as access to books and shopping deals. Amazon is also a daunting adversary when it comes to price and convenience.
But retailers have an opportunity to distinguish themselves by providing personalized services with early and/or exclusive access to products, which has become a more important part of their loyalty programs as consumer interest wanes in transactional value.
In fact, Marissa Tarleton, CMO of savings site RetailMeNot, said loyalty is no longer a single program, but rather a product, marketing and business strategy that builds products and experiences to make customers repeat visitors.
“Loyalty for most brands is about frequency and retaining users long term,” she added.
And, David Clarke, global chief experience officer, experience consulting leader and principal at PwC, said successful companies transcend being a product or service and instead become platforms that foster communities of like-minded people.
“I think smart brands will think about ways to capitalize on the relationship opportunity to drive loyalty,” Tarleton added.
But retailers must also offer additional experiences, or what Tarleton called “softer features that are less transactional,” like Nordstrom offering Rewards Card holders early access to anniversary sales, exclusive holiday points events and VIP access to store events.
Another example is Mac Cosmetics’ Select Loyalty Program, which is tiered based on dollars spent in a calendar year with benefits like exclusive products, early access to collections, complimentary makeup applications, birthday gifts and exclusive event invitations.
Target’s RedCard holders also have early access to events like its collaboration with British boot brand Hunter. In addition, they receive 5 percent back on all Target purchases and free two-day shipping. As a result, Target said RedCard holders are some of its most loyal guests, generating nearly 25 percent of sales in 2017. With $71.9 billion in revenue last year, that’s nearly $18 billion.
“A program like this appeals to Prime members’ sensibilities while also reinforcing Target’s differentiators in a way that makes clear why it makes sense to be loyal to Target, too,” added Jared Blank, svp of marketing and insights at AI-driven retail marketing firm Bluecore.
Target is also piloting a loyalty program in the Dallas area called Target Red, which gives members 1 percent back on purchases, 50 percent off a first-year membership on same-day delivery from Shipt and free next-day delivery with Target’s Restock service.
Retailers can generate loyalty even further with personalized experiences thanks in part to the data they collect.
“Each time a consumer swipes their card or enters their email, data from each touch point aggregates into a singular profile, giving retailers a consistent view of each customer and the ability to deliver contextualized experiences,” said Stephanie Waters, global retail industry principal at digital software company SAP Hybris.
What’s more, Tarleton said consumers now expect offers, services and benefits to be customized to their preferences.
Walmart’s Savings Catcher, for example, is a free loyalty app of sorts that is embedded into how consumers already engage with the retailer, Tarleton said. To use it, shoppers scan their receipt’s bar code, which allows Walmart to look for advertised deals nearby. If it finds a lower price, Walmart gives the shopper the difference. Walmart’s built-in features drive repeat engagement through personalized discounts like a loyalty program would, kind of like Kohl’s Cash, she added.
And while consumers may not necessarily say they want personalization, they will come to expect it once they reach a certain threshold, Tarleton said.
Sephora couples its loyalty program with its app and online tools to give it the ability to recognize customers online, in-store and on mobile in a highly personalized way.
“They are using omnichannel and personalization strategies in their products and experiences that drive long-term loyalty well beyond what their traditional rewards program can likely accomplish,” Tarleton added.