Running Out of Coffee? SmartShopping smart mat makes your life easier.
The cumbersome and time-consuming tasks of monitoring stocks will become history soon. Meet a clever all-in-one digital scale from Smart Shopping, that can automatically reorder stocks of items when running low.
The appealing idea of easy restocking has actually been around for quite some time, but it’s more recently that it’s come to wider attention. Amazon has already made great strides in convenient shopping with its Dash buttons, tiny Wi-Fi-enabled devices that can be placed around the home and capable to reorder products and brands with one tap of a finger. After pressing a button bearing the label of a specific brand, users can choose the type and quantity of product via Amazon’s mobile app.
Similarly, cost-effective connected devices is exactly what Japan desperately must have. The utilization of cutting-edge technologies is seen as as one of the viable solutions for low birth rates and aging population, which has caused not only a labor shortage but also created special needs for elderly consumers. According to Daiwa Institute of Research experts, machines and computers will replace human labour, as companies face difficulty securing workers, and Japanese players have been experiencing in to achieve more automated process.
It is true that Amazon Dash made purchase procedure easier, says Smart Shopping co-founder and CEO Hidetoshi Hayashi. However, it solved only part of the problem where checking and reordering supplies still remain the most boring tasks. Tokyo-based Smart Shopping offers the convenience of automatically replenishing consumed goods on the brink of depletion.
Connected scales Smart Mat reorder goods without requiring a lot of human interaction. The device uses its original algorithm with sensors and connects to a smartphone via Wi-Fi. It eliminates time-consuming manual tasks and allows employees to focus on more productive activities. It is an efficient, cost saving technology that can also drive sales.
How does it work?
- Register on SmartShopping website with your smartphone or computer.
Configure a list of e-commerce sites like Amazon, Rakuten, Askul, Momotaro etc. where you want to place orders.
2. For the first time, put an item onto the smart scale.
Select an item name and total weight from a catalog data. Smart scales cannot measure weight for very small and light items, such as medicine. However, large products do not pose a problem because they can be placed on four Smart Mats.
3. Keep the smart scale turned on and connected to Wi-Fi.
The device does not consume a lot of electricity because 99% of the time it sleeps. Generally speaking, it wakes up once an hour, checks the remaining stock and goes to sleep again. Once in a week, you will be notified by email about percentage of the supplies left.
4. Once the product is gone, the smart scale will order a new one on your behalf.
Meet the Team
Smart Shopping Co-Founder Hidetoshi Hayashi has had an intense career that started decades ago at the telecom Nihon Telesystems. For the three years, he worked for the world’s largest online retailer Amazon running membership services and subscription commerce programs for consumables. In 2014, Hidetoshi Hayashi co-founded Smart Shopping with Takayuki Shiga from Cyber Agent, a pioneer company doing digital business in Japan.
Hidetoshi Hayashi: I am in charge of the operations linked to e-commerce. Other co-founder comes from a different background, such as financing and advertising that is why allocating responsibilities becomes both obvious and effective.
As hardware is never easy, it took almost four years for Smart Shopping to launch their first Smart Mat. In January 2018, the startup received a JPY 200 million support from many investment sources, including MBC Shisaku Fund, and succeeded in developing 20 prototype unities with Makers Boot Camp. Wondering which manufacturers managed to deliver Smartshopping Small lot production on time? Check here.
In order to manufacture a product on a mass scale, a startup needs a follow-on round and actively seeking for investors. SmartShopping has already narrowed down candidate factories for mass production in China, one near Shanghai and the other in Fuzhou, and Makers Boot Camp team supported their negotiations during their trip to China, where they met their manufacturing partners for their first factory run.
Such a solution did not struck co-founders out of the blue! Initially, SmartShopping team was considering an option with a camera built-in, but quickly realized it was too expensive and one could not see it through packages. “After some user tests, we realized weight check is the most reasonable way to monitor goo, says Hidetoshi Hayashi.
From Japanese lobsters to local coffee shops
Recently, Smart Shopping ran some test marketing campaigns for B2B and B2C markets, through analysis of in-market response, in order to check their demand before defining the product’s basic functionalities. After getting a considerable feedback from other businesses, they’ve chosen a hybrid business model B2B2C. It is an emerging e-commerce where the supplier makes products that are distributed via retailer channels to end-customers. A typical example would be a real estate developer producing fully equipped smart homes with already pre-installed smart scales.
Companies can be very good at handling the costs that go directly into their products, but may not effectively measure and forecast other costs of doing business — their indirect spend, as pointed out by Hidetoshi Hayashi. Smart Shopping specifically targets goods and services classified under the umbrella of indirect procurement. As of now, they streamline the process of ordering indirect supplies for lobster restaurants in Mie prefecture and specialty coffee shops.
What is direct and indirect procurement?
Direct procurement is helps purchasing materials and goods necessary for key business practices. For example, when sushi restaurants acquire fresh raw fish, if direct procurement encounters problems, the sushiman is no longer able to create his dishes. Indirect procurement is purchasing supplies required to keep the day-to-day business alive, such as snacks sold at the cash register, chopsticks and paper towels.
Vision and milestones: funding is a long journey
Smart Shopping strives to become a shopping concierge and eliminate the hassle of replenishing supplies. In addition, they aim to provide a great saving shortcut for customers using price-comparison search engines.
A good understanding of the key milestones is crucial for a startup to reach its full growth potential. Smart Shopping team is in a constant run to improve their product and match their market demand.
Hidetoshi Hayashi: Fitting scales with a container will make it more capable of adapting to industrial needs. In addition, we are looking to collaborate with smarthouse developers and embed smart scales into the accessible ecosystem. In January 2018, we raised JPY 200 million in total funds, but need to get one more round before moving to a mass-scale production.