My New Happy Place
Three nights ago I was on my back deck and…I was happy. My wife was puzzled. My dog looked worried. You see – happy is odd for me – I’m not really an “enjoy the moment” sort of guy…there is always the next piece of innovation, the next marketing program, the next challenge – but in that moment…
I had just returned from Shoptalk where we debuted OpenINSIGHTS. It’s new, it’s different, and there isn’t (nor has there ever been) a vendor offering a solution like ours (or the way we are offering it). To say that in a market with 8500 vendors – honestly, it was a little scary.
The reception @Shoptalk was a-maz-ing! Right place, right time, right solution, right approach. We were validated by the right people at the right retail brands – literally retail family members. All signs are pointing to this being by far the most important thing I have (or will do) for the industry I love. Yes, my fair reader, that was a happy moment. Certainly different than just 3 years prior.
It was a common occurrence. I had been waking up at 4:30 almost every morning for nearly 2 months – drenched in the sweat of a reality that included a family to provide for. Of a mortgage payment to make. Of promises made to my wife of nearly a decade. There was no going back to sleep…I was in anxiety mode.
After creating SmarterHQ in my basement, nearly 6 years prior, it continued to grow and evolve. We had moved beyond the reach of most competitors. Our Forrester Total Economic Impact study touted results so compelling the analyst had to seek special permission to publish. Clients were ecstatic about their ROI…wait…why did I leave?
It was never about abandoned carts.
Starting with Sears (in 1999), I had been creating the industry’s first “triggered” marketing programs. This was an emerging practice known as Behavioral Marketing and would eventually fuel ExactTarget’s (now Salesforce marketing cloud) retail channel launch and the birth of SmarterHQ. That said, it was not my original intent for SmarterHQ to be a “Behavioral Marketing Platform.”
Destination: Customer Intelligence
Behavioral marketing, to me, had been an entry point. It was a way of building a company, driving revenue, and providing the fuel to build something…more important. My personal mission was substantially less about your websites – and far more about your stores, your marketplace presence, your product lines. It was about fully mobilizing your customer database – to drive high quality in-store foot traffic, manage share-of-wallet, get out in front of churn, and allow you to re-active more lost shoppers – no matter what the sales channel. My mission was Customer Intelligence at scale.
Every New Beginning Comes From Some Other Beginning’s End
That was my vision for SmarterHQ. It was big, it was ambitious, it was specialized to the retail vertical. And as with any company, as you onboard leadership, the direction and vision for that company will invariably change (as it should). SmarterHQ made its home in behavioral marketing – choosing to expand laterally into other verticals like travel and financial services. As a retail guy – I was done.
ZIO was the beginning of OpenINSIGHTS. Working with a few top-tier retail brands, we designed with the end in mind – from strategic outcome to the marketing program that would realize it. That led to machine learning-based insights required to create audiences & content and, ultimately, to the data that would be required to scale the outcome. By working backwards we crafted a Customer Intelligence tech stack that understands retail.
The Birth of OpenINSIGHTS
A year ago, we realized we had built transformation. It’s strategic marketing…all of your next generation marketing programs. It’s data/infrastructure modernization. It’s acceleration for your customer/product-focused machine learning. It’s an analytically vibrant “single shopper view” engineered for retail. It’s all deployed into the retailer’s existing cloud environment. We built the future, so what are we going to do with it?
Change the industry
Give it away! That’s a joke (sort of). We are going to Open our technology to the world and fix a broken industry. Over the last decade I’ve seen martech change. More vendors, more noise – and oddly enough, even more distance between the retailer and their strategic customer goals.
OpenINSIGHTS changes all of that. Our #UnVendor commitment delivers the following:
- No Software Fees: No subscriptions fees, no license fees – what you see is what you get
- Data Ownership: OpenINSIGHTS deploys into your cloud, it’s your data – all of it.
- Real Machine Learning: see the above.
- Modernized Infrastructure: deployed in the latest cloud architecture (starting with AWS).
- A perpetual license with source level access that is irrevocable (yeah, it’s yours).
The marketing programs we deliver are both familiar and completely new (especially scale).
- Behavioral Marketing (for the 6th time in my career)
- Signal based customer acquisition (including support for stores)
- Targeted prospecting of “new-to-you” product lines (supporting stores – again)
- Continuity/Replenishment including seasons/seasonal catalogs (and yes, hellooo stores)
- Churn risk (leveraging predicted shopper value)
In Closing – Thank you
To our Investors who’ve supported our build. Retailers who shared their aspirations, data, and commitment. And to you – our Retail Nation – Open is yours.