If you’re in a big city like New York City, you’re probably used to walking around the block away from where you live to the corner shop and picking up a jug of milk or some dishwashing detergent.
But Paul McDonald( who says he has not lived in New York ), who was at Google for more than 13 times, wants to breakdown that distance between strolling to that store to pick something up and ordering it online so far. A new startup called Bodega hopes to install kinds of convenience store-like kiosks right into apartment buildings, gyms, or other infrastructure that’ll sell the goods — like dish cleanser — that occupants necessity. The corporation has raised $2.5 million in a financing round led by First Round Capital and Homebrew Ventures and has 30 bodegas live scattered all over the Bay Area.
“Retailers are contouring their business around this fact that users want convenience, ” McDonald said. “There’s actually only been two alternatives: you can go to the storage, or you can order something online. What we’re trying to do is introduce a third option, a new style of buying things. Diminish the storage, bringing the most part in a smaller shape factor and bring it to where you are.”
Bodega will, of course, have to go up against the typical corner stores in cities, which at this phase are iconic within their various neighborhoods with their oddities — and sometimes their cats. And as they look to woo office buildings and gyms, those organizations may already have vending machines and stores internally and have invested day building up those relationships.( The Bodega in your apartment building, also, probably won’t recollect your favorite weekend sandwich ordering even two years after you’ve moved away .)
The whole process starts with a small kiosk that sits inside a build filled with goods. Bodega applies an array of cameras to see who’s strolling up to the kiosk. They open up that kiosk with a three-digit password and then grab something out of it. The cameras then isolate their hand and what they are picking up, and when they walk away with that product Bodega logs it as sell off that client. The customer’s charge card is charged, and then life moves on.
Bodega then tracks which goods were sold, who’s buying what, and then predicts over day which products they are able to place in the bodega. It gets fill up sporadically, and then people come and buy their once-a-week buys again when needed. McDonald said Bodega uses off-the-shelf hardware for its cameras, entailing it should be easier to deploy rather than create something tradition. And, thanks to advances in image recognition, corporations like Bodega can theoretically ultimately get off the ground.
Bodega starts with a base determine of products when it was ten-strikes a enter into negotiations with a location to put a new kiosk down. Over period, the company refines that define of products based on what people are and are not purchasing. Bodega will query its customers periodically to ask what’s missing after their second or third trip over to the kiosk. All this is in an attempt to try to shave off everything that’s unnecessary in the buying process — space, traveling, and so on — to something that’s a more streamlined experience.
“Retail in The U.S. is huge, 10% of Americans work in retail, ” McDonald said. “The folks who are retailers want engineering to reduce their costs and bring products closer[ to customers ]. The marketplace we’re moving after is some combination of the grocery, gym market, and everyday essentials. Eventually, what we see is a world where you don’t have to go to the 30,000 square foot stores. Instead, we distribute the store based on products you buy once a few weeks or month.”
McDonald actually said get their kiosks into apartment buildings and gyms is one of the easier parts of the pitching, as apartment buildings are always looking for new amenities in order to attract renters. But that builds sense in a kind of urban sprawl like New York City, where living in an apartment building is normal and its tenants might find something like this genuinely useful outside of walking to the actual store on the corner.
This also might make sense with new, modern apartment buildings — but in a lot of cities, you’ll find yourself apartment hunting in older builds and dealing with landlords that know they won’t require these perks. Your house might not even have laundry in it, much less the chamber for a kiosk like this. While it might help the newer houses attract higher rents from more affluent tenants, it’s not clear if this will become as prolific as McDonald hopes.