Norcross-based Brickstream Corp., which sells specialized cameras to track customer behavior in stores, has opened an office in Shanghai to better serve China’s fast-growing retail market.
China, which is building massive malls at a breakneck clip, has retailers both foreign and domestic clamoring to tap into a middle class population projected to surpass 600 million by 2022.
Brickstream’s technology helps retailers understand shoppers better, providing analytics in a brick-and-mortar environment similar to the data companies can already glean from e-commerce interactions.
Its double-lens cameras work provide 3D imaging optimized for identifying people and their movements throughout a store. By measuring height and proportion, they can accurately determine whether a person is an adult or child or whether two people are shopping together.
The company is using resellers Shanghai Unicross and Shanghai Solution One in China but opened a physical presence to be closer to both partners and end users.
“At the end of the day, Chinese business likes to deal with Chinese business. That was the No. 1 reason,” said Christina Ellwood, Brickstream’s vice president of marketing.
Also, the office helps circumvent some of China’s well-known trade hassles.
“The government does not make it comfortable for businesses to buy from non-Chinese businesses when you import a physical product into the country,” Ms. Ellwood said.
China is still at the early stages of in-store analytics, but getting a foot in the door with rudimentary technologies should position Brickstream as the brand of choice when retailers are ready to upgrade, Ms. Ellwood told Global Atlanta in an interview.
“In China, and in other parts of Asia, they’re still at the people-counting stage, but it has taken off like a rocket, so we want to be there to help that market develop in a way that is favorable to a longer-term model,” she said.
Brickstream’s suite of products can help supermarkets and other stores manage queues in real time. They can also communicate with mobile phones to track how many consumers have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled, opening the possibility for instant interaction.
At the top of the analytics value chain is the ability to allow retailers to send consumers coupons or offers through apps based on their in-store behaviors, though that capability is still in its nascent stages.
Ms. Ellwood said it’s developers and mall operators seeking to boost their property values who often are driving adoption of the technology.
In some malls in Asia, rental rates are directly related to store sales, and mall operators use Brickstream’s analytics to help retailers drive conversion, effectively putting the retailer and landlord on the same team. This model isn’t often used in the U.S., if ever, according to Ms. Ellwood.
Brickstream has seen significant traction overseas since it was spun off from NCR Corp. in 2002. Now it sells to 50 countries, with the international segment accounting for 70 percent of overall revenues.
The new Shanghai office, opened in March, complements existing regional offices in the United Kingdom and Singapore.
It is located in Shanghai’s Changning district and is run by Jasmine Xue, a native Shanghainese who is tasked with expanding and supporting Brickstream’s Chinese reseller network. She works closely with James Chan, who heads up the Singapore office.
Visit http://brickstream.com for more information.