B8ta, a company whose retail-as-a-service platform allows retailers to set up store-within-a-store concepts featuring new brands and products, is launching a store-as-a-service platform that will allow product brands that traditionally haven’t operated stores to quickly set up new physical operations, according to a b8ta press release.
The first customer expected to use the platform, called Built by b8ta, is networking company Netgear, maker of home WiFi routers and other products, which is planning to open a Built by b8ta store in Silicon Valley’s Santana Row in June, according to a TechCrunch story.
The new software b8ta is providing includes checkout, inventory, point of sale, inventory management, staff scheduling services and other capabilities. It was demonstrated this week at the TED2018 conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, with the creation of a pop-up store featuring demonstrations of products, like the Jibo social home robot and the 16-lens Light L16 camera.
In just the last couple of years, b8ta has emerged as one of the more interesting companies in the retail sector, taking a cue from the store-within-a-store movement to help retailers sell products they traditionally might not offer in a dedicated space within their stores. This helps brands and product manufacturers gain access to a sales venue they might not otherwise have. For example, home improvement retailer Lowe’s worked with b8ta back in 2016 to launch a smart home experience in a technology demonstration space called SmartSpot. (B8ta also has its own stores, like the Santa Monica location that just won a retail design award.)
That approach is capable of injecting some new energy into brick-and-mortar stores that customers may have taken for granted as somewhat boring and predictable. Now, b8ta’s store-as-a-service platform could go even further to pump new life into the brick-and-mortar retail world by helping open flagship stores for brands that otherwise might not have tried such an endeavor, or helping grow new locations for brands that might have found the idea of expanding just too much to tackle.
If brands buy in, it could prove to be a big boost for owners of empty store space, unused commercial real estate, perhaps even malls. And the timing could be just right, as more brands investigate ways to grow their direct-to-consumer sales and pure-play e-commerce sellers look to establish brick-and-mortar bases where they can develop personal, face-to-face bonds with customers.
The Netgear store coube be just the beginning of a busy effort by b8ta to put its store-as-a-service platform to work. B8ta is close to announcing other brands that will use the platform for store launches, according to TechCrunch and that as many as 15 brands in the cosmetics, apparel and furniture segments may launch stores on the platform this year alone. The brick-and-mortar part of retail is coming off a shaky year in which store closings seem more common than openings, but if new store operators can lean on a turnkey platform to get their doors open, that could change.