Posted on April 26, 2019 by staff

The start-up reverse-engineering eCommerce for the high street


Bricks and mortar stores need the functionality of a website in order to provide the best experience, according to Qudini co-founder and CEO Imogen Wethered.

Her London-headquartered software-as-a-service platform, created with co-founder Fraser Hardy in 2012, offers high street stores new functionality taken from the eCommerce playbook.

It offers click and collect, queue management, the ability to request assistance and analytics among other digital features.

These new solutions are helping shops to become more like their online counterpart, and in doing so saving money and freeing up staff.

It’s an investment that can pay for itself after just a few transactions, claimed Wethered.

“The ROI is so significant,” she told BusinessCloud. “If you serve and sell to just two more customers a month you make a return on investment on our platform. That’s why more and more retailers are implementing it.”

Wethered came up with the idea during a hackathon with Hardy, and was quickly accepted into Wayra, O2’s tech accelerator. The pair would leave with the telecoms giant as one of its first clients.

She told BusinessCloud that in-store software is a reaction to the changing psychology of shoppers, which are now divided into two customer ‘missions’.

Mission one, she explains, is for customers in a hurry who are accustomed to eCommerce.

“If a customer wants to buy something online it’s so easy and fast, but some of that mentality is being translated into retail which means that physical retailers need to up their game to fulfil customer’s orders and offering a seamless experience,” she said.

Mission two is customers who want to go in to a real high-street location to learn and engage.

“Retailers are implementing more mobile payments and self-checkout to solve the first mission so that they can free their staff up to be better at supporting customers with mission two,” she explained.

“For example, Samsung do after-sales support, repairs and tutorials on devices. Other customers like O2 have ‘gurus’ instore that offer services to customers. You’ve also got a number of beauty retailers doing hand massages, for example.”

It’s a solution which has clearly found its market. In the few years since the company was founded it has built a client list which includes Tesco, John Lewis and Ikea as well as O2.

Wethered has added the personal accolade of being named the WCIT Enterprise ‘Young Entrepreneur of the Year’.

More recently investor Seneca Partners bet £2m on the growing company, which Wethered said is growing internationally.

With offices already in New York, Sydney, Argentina and Spain, it will use some of the funding to open its first American office as nearly a third of its client-base is in the US.

It will also build out its development team to keep up with its ambitious new ideas

“We want to be a suite tool to manage your customers and your shop floor in retail,” said Wethered.