André Hordagoda, co-CEO, and co-founder of retail technology company Go Instore, say he hasn’t had time to stop and think about his business’s rapid rise to prominence in the past 15 months. The tech, which connects online shoppers to retail shop staff or product experts via video chat or Livestream broadcasts, has recently been adopted by Currys PC World, Marks & Spencer (M&S), jeweler Signet’s global retail portfolio, and numerous others. We were handling 500 calls a minute last Black Friday – a year before we didn’t do 500 in total on the day,” says Hordagoda.
For some brands, video has been the only way to conduct face-to-face conversations with customers for most of the last year, as Covid-19 forced shops to shut. It means many retailers have found out what the trailblazers in video commerce already knew: it is a platform that can drive sales and engagement.
It also means the time to shine has genuinely come for Go Instore, which had operated for almost seven years with several forward-thinking retailers but now finds itself recruiting more salespeople to support its growth following such a spike in demand. We’ve been so busy activating people – we are everywhere, including Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Australia,” says Hordagoda, who adds that the team has grown from a dozen to 80 people in rapid time.
“We were dreaming of the day people would come up to us and say ‘I used this great service the other day…’ [meaning his company’s service] – and now they are doing it,” he says.
Besides the buy now, pay later purveyors such as Klarna, it is hard to think of many niche retail tech companies that have experienced such a rapid run of new customer wins in such a short space of time as Go Instore in modern times. The firm has also added Pandora, Galeries Lafayette, The Perfume Shop, and ScS during the pandemic.
Currys PC World launched what it has labeled ShopLive on the Go Instore technology – and it has made the service a central part of its nationwide marketing. It plans to launch RepairLive, too, so shoppers can get help to fix malfunctioning technology via video.
Alex Baldock, the group CEO of Currys’ parent company Dixons Carphone, says the live video shopping service “points to a retail future where every customer online can get face-to-face advice from an expert store colleague”.
The adoption and commitment to its roll-out by established names such as Currys and M&S suggests video commerce technology has longevity, even with shops open again. And other retailers have been using it for a lot longer anyway.