liateR is a retail technology startup that provides fashion merchants with in-store interactive tools, (e.g. augmented reality displays) and analytics. The company produces products that enable retailers to set up digital catalogs, virtual fitting rooms, and social media connectivity. On the analytics side, liateR’s software automatically collects data across a variety of touch points on the shopper including age, gender, item preferences, interactions, and mood, which it analyzes for the merchant. I had a chance to speak with Antonis Argyros, co-founder of liateR and you can see a transcript of the conversation below. The company was founded in July 2014 and is headquartered in Athens, Greece with seven employees to date. liateR is a graduate of the Metavallon, a Greek social enterprise accelerator founded and operated by Alexandra Choli.
Note: The below answers are verbatim from the CEO with only minor adjustments made for fluidity.
Q: Please explain your company’s value proposition.
liateR is an interactive sales solution for retailers and brands in the apparel and accessories market that uses gesture control, voice recognition and augmented reality to create an environment where consumers can digitally try on and buy clothing. At the same time we can combine the data that we can automatically get from the user like age, gender, overall mood with the way user interacts inside the application in order to deliver customer centric content. We can deliver this content two ways a) by suggesting specific products that the user is more likely to relate with and b) by creating tailor made messages and targeted offers that will increase a user’s engagement.
Q. Who is your target customer? How will these change as the company evolves?
We have identified three customer segments – retailers, brands, and shopping malls, and focus on serving them by providing top B2B services.
At the same time, we also acknowledge that almost all of the top tech giants have invested in similar technologies, Microsoft with the Kinect sensor, Apple with PrimeSense, Intel with the RealSense and Google with its project Tango. Our strong belief is that as the company and product evolve, liateR will become a consumer product installed on million devices all over the world.
Q: Who is your competition and what is your differentiation?
The vast majority of available solutions are focused on online retailers and do not provide any kind of personalization. Successful products like Fits.me and Dressformer are trying to help e-shops (e-commerce retailers) to create a more engaging experience for the consumers using avatars or 2d cameras in order to take photos of the user. Currently, there are limited solutions that use gesture controlled sensors, mainly limited to Microsoft’s Kinect product. In most cases with Kinect, the models are not even 3d and cannot offer the range of solutions (e.g. in depth analytics, customer support tools) that we can with liateR.
Q: What is your business model?
We have three revenue streams:
- A one-time license fee in order to get the basic version of liateR along with the necessary customization and training.
- Seasonal fee in order to receive the latest updates and upgrades.
- Extra customization services that vary from creating 3d models for the customer to providing the necessary hardware.
Q: What are the key barriers to entry for your business?
- Technology – We are really fortunate to have in our team well-educated and experienced members that have helped us to reach an outstanding level and speed in our product development. For example we are one of the few (if not the only) worldwide solutions that can support 3d models in the virtual fitting room functionality while at the same time we have developed cutting edge solutions that personalize the experience for every user.
- Domain expertise – We have over 30 years of combined retail experience in the industry. This gives us the ability to recognize the needs of retailers and serve them in a unique way.
Q: What are some statistics on your business?
We already have the first set of customers that have implemented liateR in their businesses. As we speak, liateR is installed in 10 stores in Athens as well as in the headquarters of the biggest wholesaler in women’s fashion clothes. In the coming months, it should be available in the biggest shopping mall in the country as well.
Q: What is the background/experience of the current management team?
We have a well-rounded team that combines many years of experience in the retail industry and deep knowledge of the available technologies. Half of our team is built with retail business owners and the other half are pioneers in Human Computer Interaction technologies.
- Antonis Argyros (CEO) and Stamatis Argyros (Key account manager) founded their own retail business 16 years ago and currently have six sport stores and an e-shop (www.e-sportmania.gr) in Athens.
- Marianna Vakalopoulou (Business development) was one of the co-founders of www.mageca.com, which is the first worldwide appstore for gesture-controlled apps.
- Vangos Pterneas (CTO) has won the Imagine cup of Microsoft and was recently announced as MVP in his field.
As a parting thought, with approximately 90% of total retail sales still taking place offline it will be interesting to see what technologies will disrupt this market — especially with the difficult nature of fashion e-commerce. For complete coverage of the space, be sure to check out the Retail Online to Offline scan. Thanks for the time and good luck, Antonis!