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Go Instore: Changing the face of retail

Entrepreneurs 27-07-2020

Go Instore founders André Hordagoda and Aman Khurana established their company in 2014 offering an in-store experience for online customers. Who knew that just six years later, their ‘FaceTime for retailers’ would become the new normal.

Transforming online shopping, Go Instore is a platform that gives visitors the option to click a button to launch a live video, allowing them to see ‘through the eyes’ of the salesperson’s smartphone. It ‘humanises’ the online shopping experience and facilitates a safe working environment for staff, whilst providing the benefits of the in-store experience for customers.

The concept of Go Instore came together in 2014 when school friends Aman and André identified a weakness in the insatiable, highly addictive yet impersonal online shopping craze: Online has low conversion rates compared to real shops. Research shows that 20-30% of people who visit a bricks and mortar store will make a purchase, whereas online the conversion rate is just 1-2%.

“We had a vision, and foresaw there was an opportunity,” says André. “We thought if we could deliver the in-store experience to the customer, we could affect their conversion rate. That was our hypothesis in 2014 and back then not everyone was comfortable with video calls. We managed to hang on for long enough that the world caught up with our vision. People have got used to doing it.”

The virtual future of retail is right now, and this couldn’t be more apparent than in the current climate. “It’s been a ridiculously busy period for our business,” says André.

When the pandemic hit, Shoreditch-based Go Instore saw a massive increase in the use of their platform across the UK, Europe, Asia and the United States.

“Demand for virtual experiences has been accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis, as shoppers look online. The usage of our technology by consumers has gone up 4000%. This platform makes your website experience that much more personal,” explains Aman. “The consumer sees through the eyes of the sales assistant and talks to them as if in-store, and they are helped through the buying process.”

That fateful day

André had been following the onset of Covid closely since December 2019. He tells us that people in the office were teasing him, saying he was obsessed. “I was watching it and saw it coming. A week before lockdown I sent everyone home, telling them they didn’t need to come into the office.”

The duo put on a brave face, despite losing two major clients on the same day. But they soon realised that Go Instore provided a major opportunity to help retail.

“It went nuts. Everyone who was already using us increased their licenses. Everyone in our pipeline—companies like Samsung—who normally take years to make such decisions, all of a sudden wanted to go live.”

André and Aman immediately started hiring more people, going from 12 to 45 employees practically overnight—some they still haven’t met in person.

“Normally it takes 6-8 weeks to take a client from signature to live. We streamlined it down to 7-14 days. We went from maybe 600 client calls a day to over 10,000,” says Aman.

Some of the world’s biggest brands couldn’t wait to partner with the platform. From names like Currys, PC World, and Dyson, to Microsoft, Samsung, and DeBeers. Hundreds of employees were pulled out of furlough to return to work.

“Covid happened and all of a sudden you can’t go to the shop. It’s forced people to use technology,” says André. “Retail is the livelihood of so many and it is not just an option to keep commerce going, but a necessity. Although physical retail has paused, online hasn’t and retail needs to adapt. Retail is not dying; it’s getting a new lease of life.”

“If you can talk online to your friends, families and colleagues, why can’t you talk to your favourite brand or retailer? They love it and it’s the new norm.

“It’s been incredible. I don’t really believe in luck when it comes to business,” says André. “Covid is horrific for everyone, but we have been damn lucky. Our business has accelerated five years in just five months. It’s been forced upon us and I’m incredibly grateful that we have been able to helped retail during these difficult times.”

Interview by Nima Suchak and Ellie Parsons

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