How VSBLTY is making massive inroads into Latin America with its retail and security software
Richard Dal Monte, Market One Media
- VSBLTY software will power digital displays in Modelorama stores and mom-and-pop shops in Mexico
- The network will provide a security component as well as brand advertising while collecting customer analytics and POS data for retailers and brands
- VSBLTY has also signed a deal to provide a network of digital displays and cameras in an airport in Guatemala City
Challenges and changes in the retail business sector are many and myriad. Bricks-and-mortar shops, for instance, struggle to adapt to the ever-expanding competition presented by the ease and convenience — and, during a global pandemic, safety — of online shopping. Some launch internet outlets of their own, others attempt to recreate the characteristics of online shopping on the sales floor with digital tablets that hybridize the in-person experience.
In addition, there is the question of delivering advertising impressions, in terms of how to get the message out to the right consumer at the right time. Does a business owner choose conventional methods like television commercials or digital channels like digital banner ads, or a social media campaign? And whatever they choose, how do they know it works and if they can measure conversion?
“This media network is so effective, because you have ads running in a store where the shopper makes a purchase decision, and you have many shoppers attracted to the screens.”
— Rodrigo Velasco, CEO & Co-founder, Retailigent Media.
VSBLTY Groupe Technologies Corp. (CSE: VSBY) is looking to capitalize on these attributes and provide, for the first time, customer engagement that is driving sales lift as well as the analytics that validate the results with their recently announced agreement with Mexico’s Anheuser-Busch (ABInBev)/Grupo Modelo and Retailigent Media.
VSBLTY is an independent software vendor and growth-stage company based in Vancouver and Philadelphia that has developed a suite of products for the retail sector that uses machine learning and computer vision to give store owners detailed, thorough anonymous, data about customers visiting their stores, as well as their reactions while shopping.
In-roads into Latin America
On December 1st VSBLTY announced that it would be launching a joint venture with ABInBev and Retailigent, both of which have massive reach in Latin America, to create an in-store media network in up to 50,000 Modelorama stores and independent corner stores in Mexico, with the possibility to expand into Central America and South America by 2027 — that would be tens of thousands of stores and a potential market of close to three-quarters of a billion people.
Here’s how it will roll out: ABInBev will open up the network of its own Modelorama convenience stores — beer, pop, snacks are big sellers — as well as provide outreach into independent mom-and-pop shops, putting the weight of its sales force behind the project.
Retailigent, which has longstanding relationships with brands and media companies, will place camera-equipped advertising displays in all the stores. And VSBLTY, which has been partnering with Retailigent for five years, will provide the software to run the content and analytics.
“It takes the three parties here to perform their role optimally for everything to come together,” explains VSBLTY’s CEO and co-founder, Jay Hutton.
And although the placement of these displays is crucial, his company’s software is what makes the magic work — and, more importantly, makes them valuable to store owners, advertisers and shoppers.
Digital, data and security
According to Hutton and his Retailigent counterpart, CEO Rodrigo Velasco, this is how it will work:
- A shopper in a Modelorama store or independent corner store will see a digital display showing promotions on certain products — for instance, Grupo Modelo’s Pacifico beer, Diet Coke and Lays potato chips. They then move about the store, select their purchases, pay and leave.
- The computer vision-equipped digital display — which does not record video or collect or store any identifying information — monitors the shopper, registering and assessing how long they spend watching promotional videos as well as their reactions, and recording that information which gets integrated with sales from the point-of-sale (POS) system.
- The data gathered is synthesized, analyzed and shared with the retailer, and advertisers to show sales lift and demographic information about the average shopper.
“This media network is so effective, because you have ads running in a store where the shopper makes a purchase decision, and you have many shoppers attracted to the screens,” explains Rodrigo Velasco, CEO and Co-founder, of Retailigent Media.
He adds, “Another important feature is how we are using this information and the analytics to improve the content of the advertisements. Using artificial intelligence, we can provide information about campaign results including proof of play and proof of performance.”
Online shopping but in-store
Kiosks bring the interactive experience of online shopping at home to in-store, where a shopper can be influenced to make a decision and complete the transaction.
In addition, the systems run by VSBLTY’s software have a security component to address the constant threat of robbery in these convenience stores. Using cameras that are overhead, they will have the ability in real time, to determine whether a store is being robbed, collect images of possible criminals and look for similar images across the network of stores. Computer vision can also be used to detect weapons.
This combination of security, digital display and consumer analytics (including integrating POS analytics), Hutton says, “Is the holy trinity. That’s everything we do.”
VSBLTY, which, early in the pandemic, adapted its software suite to provide COVID-19-related safety solutions to workplaces and retail spaces, is also bringing that trio of solutions to another sector: airports.
Digitally enhanced security
In October, the company announced it was partnering with Branding Global, a comprehensive advertising network in Latin America, to install a network of displays and cameras in La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Hutton says the “Pilot deployment” in La Aurora will monitor for weapons and security risks while also providing digital displays and advertising to the generally higher-income demographic that can afford to fly.
He notes that getting VSBLTY’s products into airports “Has always been a strategic goal.”
The Guatemala City partnership is a solid first step into that sector, and it comes in a year when, despite the challenges of the pandemic, VSBLTY has made huge strides, whether pivoting to add services in response to COVID-19, attracting $6 million in investment in September and, signing the ABInBev/Retailigent deal.
Major strides for VSBLTY
The pandemic has played an outsized role in some of the company’s endeavours. As some retailers have struggled in the face of restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the novel coronavirus, Hutton says, others — such as drug stores, supermarkets and DIY stores — have thrived, and many have invested in technology to bridge the gap between shops and online shopping.
“We’ve been able to muscle through,” he explains.
When asked about the possibilities for VSBLTY’s growth given its plans in Latin America, and about its attractiveness to potential investors, Hutton says, “We all spend our lives looking for companies that are not too early and not too late.”
“We don’t want to invest in a company after it’s become Tesla. But we’d love to invest in it when it’s just an idea for a battery, and that’s got enough validation and traction that it’s no longer just a proposition.”
“That’s what VSBLTY did in 2020: We crossed the Rubicon. We went from concept, idea, early prototype to production level,” he says, pointing out the company’s expanding involvement in key sectors — security and retail — that boast potential “Explosive growth rates.”
Hutton also notes that the company made “Quantum leaps” in revenue this year and is looking towards more huge jumps in 2021, which is exciting news for investors.
Learn even more about VSBLTY by visiting its website here.