Software-Powered Retailer b8ta Opens Four New Locations
b8ta, a software-based retailer, announced this week that it will more than double its brick-and-mortar footprint with the launch of four new locations. The new stores are located in San Francisco, San Jose, Houston, and New York City, and bring b8ta’s total store count to nine.
Each store, b8ta said, will feature a mix of more than 100 products, giving their local communities the opportunity to “discover the latest consumer products on the market.”
Brands featured in the store include Koss Bluetooth connected headphones, smart strength training and toning device Activ5, Enclave Audio wireless home speakers, and the Square Panda phonics playset.
b8ta opened its flagship store in Palo Alto in 2015, and followed that up with new stores in Seattle and Santa Monica in 2016, and Austin and Corte Madera earlier this year.
“In December 2015, we opened our first b8ta store in Palo Alto to prove that retail wasn’t dying because consumers had lost interest in shopping, but because the makers behind the best products had lost interest in working with retailers” Vibhu Norby, CEO and co-founder of b8ta, said in a statement. “After opening our first five stores, filling them with hundreds of unique products, and engaging 25,000 customers a month, we’ve proven our thesis. In the next five months, we’re doubling our store footprint and extending coast-to-coast, allowing our amazing makers to meet their customers across the country.”
The b8ta concept is one that enables the store manager to act more like a software developer than a true retailer. Brands get into the store by renting out space and the b8ta platform in what essentially amounts to a monthly subscription. That subscription gets the manufacturer access to physical store space, but also in-store marketing, the messaging, and even the price points for each product, right through the b8ta dashboard.
“I really think everyone in this industry on the manufacturing side agrees that the way that we sell and merchandise consumer electronics isn’t ideal, and the process for getting into retail is completely broken,” Norby said in an interview with Dealerscope last year. “As a customer of retail shops and particularly electronics shops, we started noticing that the product selection was starting to feel old and stale, versus what we were seeing online. So, we started talking about, what if you created retail stores that were driven by the manufacturers, and were powered by software? What would that look like?”
An additional benefit to the manufacturer for participating in the b8ta program is that they get to train the in-store staff either directly or through webinars. And then there are all of the analytics that the manufacturers receive through b8ta’s software.
“We designed our system to deliver per-product data on how that product is performing, including how long people are standing in front of their display on average, how that’s changed over time, and how many people are actually stopping by their product display versus the total traffic in the store,” Norby explained in our interview. “The result is, there’s this store that feels unlike any other store in the world for both the customer and the manufacturer.”