The Austin Technology Incubator (ATI), part of the IC2 Institute at The University of Texas at Austin (UT), today highlighted recent momentum from current portfolio company, eyeQ. eyeQ has developed a unique technology to bring online-style customer experience to brick and mortar stores. Its customer insight technology is being aggressively adopted by retailer and brands, with 5 agreements signed in the 10 months since releasing their initial product. eyeQ is also a showcase company for IBM, having presented at IBM’s IMPACT, Pulse, and Smarter Commerce conferences, in addition to their CIO Leadership Exchange.
eyeQ is re-inventing the in-store shopping experience. Retailers and brands have a significant problem: shoppers have come to expect the benefits that shopping online gives them, including personally relevant messages, pertinent suggestions, and deep product information (ratings, reviews, specifications, etc.). These benefits are almost completely missing in physical stores. To address this gap, eyeQ has created a new class of retail technology – Fully Aware and Responsive In-Store marketing – to help brick-and-mortar retailers harness e-commerce capabilities.
The eyeQinsights system learns about in-store shoppers and uses that intelligence – their activity, demographics, and preferences – to enable retailers to instantly customize each shopper’s experience. eyeQ does this through interactive touch-screen displays throughout the store that sense customer demographics and location while they shop. This helps retailers and brands better understand customer characteristics and preferences to respond in a way that is engaging, insightful, and productive for both the shopper and retailer.
Since company founding in 2012, eyeQ has been on a tear. It entered and won the Texas Venture Labs investment competition in February 2012, which led to its admittance into the Austin Technology Incubator where it is an IT/Wireless portfolio company. eyeQ was also selected to the second Austin class of DreamIt Ventures in January 2014 – the only Austin company to be admitted into the prestigious 12-week accelerator program. EyeQ was one of 5 finalists in the SXSW Pitch competition and won the Mentor/Investor Choice award at the 2014 Austin IBM Smartcamp.
In December, its solution earned Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, Inc. a Customer Engagement Award from Retail TouchPoints Magazine for an Outlet Stores pilot program. Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores continues to be pleased. “With eyeQ, customers don’t need to go home for further research or to review customer feedback, it’s all in the store with added live interaction with our sales associates,” said JJ Ethridge, Vice President of Supply Chain, Technology, and Integrated Retail at Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores.
At the store level, “our customers love it. They can spend as much time as they like with the eyeQ devices, researching the items they are interested and exploring recommendations,” according to Store Manager, David Speck. “After they’ve done that, they are ready to buy.”
Businesses are responding to eyeQ by signing contracts and expanding engagements. eyeQ has recently expanded its contract with the national restaurant operator, Luby’s, that operates the Luby’s and Fuddruckers brands. eyeQ continues working with several other major brands, each in the top 10 of their respective categories: big-box retail, electronics, automobiles, shopping mall development, and fast food.
“We knew we created something special, a secret weapon to help brick and mortar businesses compete on an even playing field with ecommerce companies that are able to utilize so many customer intelligence technologies,” said eyeQ founder and CEO Michael Garel. “But we have been blown away by how many companies – big companies – are partnering with eyeQ, and how quickly they realize meaningful business improvements by using our system.”
Austin is becoming a center for retail technology whether Bazaarvoice or Digby (now part of Phunware), Compare Metrics or RetailMeNot. ATI has incubated many of Austin’s best retail technologies including Ordoro, BlackLocus, and now eyeQ. “The retail technology innovations happening here in Austin are really impressive, eyeQ at the top of the list,” said Kyle Cox, Director, IT/Wireless Portfolios at ATI. “We are proud to be a partner to eyeQ to help support them in their rapid business expansion.”