Interview • 09.12.2019

Digital and local

Hannover startup creates fashion search engine for downtown stores

In early 2020, the BLVD startup will pilot an app of the same name into the market. The app aims to create a pleasant shopping experience in city centers by avoiding unnecessary routes and tedious searches. During the EHI Technology Days 2019, iXtenso sat down for a quick interview with BLVRD founder and CEO Ari Berzenjie.

A man stands on a stage and speaks into a microphone...
Source: Steffen Hauser

Mr. Berzenjie, BLVRD is in the process of developing an app. What is the purpose of this app?

Ari Berzenjie: BLVRD aims to be the fashion search engine for the city center. We target all people who want to shop in cities, but don’t want to spend a lot of time searching for items in stores. We use the search behavior of the digital generation as a foundation. If digital natives look for a special top of a certain brand, they don’t want to go to different stores to track down the item. Over the last 20 years, we have become accustomed to search by product. This is exactly the type of service BLVRD is designed to deliver.

Mockup of the app BLVRD, product page of a shirt
Source: BLVRD

How does the app work?

We use a user interface that’s inspired by those you see with online stores, allowing you to search for tops, shirts or blouses for example. You get product search results and find out which local retailer has the respective items in stock in your size. The advantage for the consumer is that he or she doesn’t need to stress about deliveries and returns or having to be home when a package arrives. What’s more, shopping with our app is sustainable and saves resources. I always like to compare city centers to large warehouses, and they are right outside your door. Yet the best warehouse doesn’t work without a plan. That’s exactly what we want to be: the plan for the warehouse.

Our app finally gives retailers the chance to expand their reach and connect with the digital generation. In terms of sales and marketing, retailers have had a lack of visibility into this generation’s behavior for quite some time now. The set-up of distribution channels in this generation is fundamentally different.

Does your app specifically target this generation or who is your target audience?

BLVRD actually targets anyone over the age of 15, ranging from digital natives to silver surfers. Our surveys have shown that people between 50 and 60 consider the stress relief our app promises to be just as relevant as younger generations do.

There is another crucial factor when it comes to older generations. A large percentage still believes that “you must go to stores in town to shop”. However, they have also had some bad experiences along the way with crowded city centers and bad parking situations. Meanwhile, people in their late 50s are quite tech-savvy and know how to use a smartphone. We've found them to be the perfect mix.

To put it in a nutshell, we target anyone who wants to shop sustainably in less time.

Mockup of the app BLVRD, overview page User profile...
Source: BLVRD

Let’s focus on the retailers for a moment. How can they collaborate with you and how important is this collaboration for them?

Needless to say, the success of our project hinges on the retailers. We need to achieve a critical mass of retailers, because without them, we can’t bring our app to market no matter how strong consumer acceptance may be.

To prompt retailers to get on board, we tried to minimize the efforts they need to make. Retailers can directly approach us and only need CSV or XML files from inventory and maybe product image URLs. It doesn’t take more than that.

Is there any cost to retailers if they collaborate with BLVRD?

Our goal is to create a proof of concept. We will launch a pilot in Hannover in early 2020, where we use a closed group of 1,000 pilot test users (consumers) to prove that it is possible to apply the idea in a practical setting. Of course, the retailers’ willingness to participate is crucial for us during this phase. That's also why our service is free of charge during the six-month test stage. We will most likely follow up with a second pilot phase in Hamburg. That being said, we are planning an official launch in five major German cities by the end of 2020.

What difficulties have you encountered thus far?

For startups, it’s really hard to approach the retail sector and find someone that’s open-minded about your idea. You approach retailers with a useful solution, saying “We have something that can really help you" and they just say, “No thanks. We are too busy.” That always reminds me of the story of two men working hard to push a cart with square wheels. Then somebody approaches them with round wheels and wants to offer them to the two men and their response is, "Sorry, we don’t have time. Can’t you see we are busy?”

As a startup, we take a big risk by offering our service for free during the pilot phase. But we want to make this as easy and convenient for retailers as possible.

Interview: Sonja Koller

related articles:

popular articles:

Thumbnail-Photo: Vending machines: Customers alone in the store...
18.01.2021   #sales promotion #food retail

Vending machines: Customers alone in the store

Combi City-Markt makes round-the-clock shopping possible – without staff

Shopping after closing time? That’s possible at the Combi City store Bünting in Oldenburg. At the 24/7 vending machine, late at night shoppers have the opportunity to stock up on everything they need from the supermarket's ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Danish supermarket chain implements ESL in all stores...
10.02.2021   #electronic shelf labels (ESL) #price labelling

Danish supermarket chain implements ESL in all stores

The chain is investing in modernization and more digital initiatives

The privately owned, Danish supermarket chain Løvbjerg is doing well, and has experienced a great development in 2020 with a 18% growth. The chain is therefore also investing in modernization and more digital initiatives. Most recently, ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Checkout-free hotel convenience store in Yokohama, Japan...
17.02.2021   #self-checkout systems #self service

Checkout-free hotel convenience store in Yokohama, Japan

Using biometric authentication technology

Zippin announced the launch of its latest retail format: a hotel convenience store. Zippin's partner, Fujitsu, the leading systems integrator in Japan, has worked with Koyo Group to implement the world's first checkout-free store within a ...

Thumbnail-Photo: How do technologies find their way into retail?...
17.03.2021   #brick and mortar retail #self-checkout systems

How do technologies find their way into retail?

Rolf Schumann, CDO of the Schwarz Group, provides answers at the "Retail Innovation Days"

Tech is cool! Gimmicks, gadgets, gizmos – they impress and inspire quickly. However, it often takes much longer than technology experts and developers initially predict before the technologies actually arrive in everyday life and are used by ...

Thumbnail-Photo: BAUHAUS introduces new click and collect technology...
10.03.2021   #electronic shelf labels (ESL) #price labelling

BAUHAUS introduces new click and collect technology

New solution helps store associates pick items for Click & Collect orders

With help from electronic shelf labels and handheld terminals, it has become much faster and easier for BAUHAUS to navigate through the store to find the right items. A new solution that also saves a lot of time on replenishment.With a product range ...

Thumbnail-Photo: The 6 technology trends affecting the security sector in 2021...
15.01.2021   #security #brick and mortar retail

The 6 technology trends affecting the security sector in 2021

The trends are shaped by how and why technologies are used

It’s useful when looking forward to first look backward: hindsight has a wonderful way of providing context for future-gazing activity. And when looking back over the past year, one insight could understandably be that attempting to predict ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Robotic canteen set to change the global food and hospitality industry...
10.12.2020   #food retail #food technology

Robotic canteen set to change the global food and hospitality industry

Karakuri showcasing its pre-production machine

Karakuri, a food robotics company, lifts the lid to unveil the world’s first automated canteen to make meals, the DK-One. Karakuri’s robotic system will revolutionise how and what we eat in restaurants, canteens, buffets, hotels and ...

Thumbnail-Photo: First Amazon grocery store opening in Britain...
15.03.2021   #brick and mortar retail #food retail

First Amazon grocery store opening in Britain

Young shoppers interested in skipping checkout lines with cashier-less tech

With the first Amazon grocery store opening in Britain, latest research from Mintel reveals that three quarters (76%) of Brits say they would shop at one.When asked what would encourage them to shop at a physical Amazon grocery store, almost two ...

Thumbnail-Photo: The Citizen CT-E651L :  two-in-one label and receipt printing...
04.03.2021   #printers #label printers

The Citizen CT-E651L : two-in-one label and receipt printing

Compact, dynamic and stylish design with outstanding connectivity

Say goodbye to manning separate printing solutions for label and POS as global specialist printer manufacturer, Citizen Systems, announces the all-new CT-E651L label and POS printer. Derived from the successful CT-E651 POS printer, the CT-E651L is a ...

Thumbnail-Photo: Klarna starts cooperation with Verifone
23.12.2020   #digitization #self-checkout systems

Klarna starts cooperation with Verifone

The idea: a shopping experience in stores that is unique worldwide

Klarna, the leading global payments and shopping service, announces a strategic partnership with Verifone, a global leader in payments and commerce solutions, that will make Klarna available as the first-ever buy now pay later solution to millions ...

Supplier

Delfi Technologies GmbH
Delfi Technologies GmbH
Landgraben 75
24232 Schönkirchen
Reflexis Systems GmbH
Reflexis Systems GmbH
Kokkolastr. 5-7
40882 Ratingen
iXtenso - Magazin für den Einzelhandel
iXtenso - Magazin für den Einzelhandel
Celsiusstraße 43
53125 Bonn
APG Cash Drawer
APG Cash Drawer
4 The Drove
BN9 0LA Newhaven
SALTO Systems GmbH
SALTO Systems GmbH
Schwelmer Str. 245
42389 Wuppertal
CCV GmbH
CCV GmbH
Gewerbering 1
84072 Au i.d.Hallertau
Citizen Systems Europe GmbH
Citizen Systems Europe GmbH
Otto-Hirsch-Brücken 17
70329 Stuttgart
HappyOrNot
HappyOrNot
Innere Kanalstraße 15
40476 Düsseldorf
EuroShop
EuroShop
Stockumer Kirchstraße 61
40474 Düsseldorf
Axis Communications GmbH
Axis Communications GmbH
Adalperostraße 86
85737 Ismaning