This post is part of our new Future of Retail series which interviews the leading founders and executives who are on the front lines of the industry to get a better understanding of what problems the industry is facing, what trends are taking place, and what the future looks like.
The following is an interview we recently had with Ofer Klein, Founder and CEO of kwik.
1. What’s the history of kwik? Where and how did you begin?
OK: kwik helps brands acquire and retain their customers in an era of intense disruption, driven by Amazon, Walmart and an increasing push to offer an ever-increasing level of convenience and simplicity. That’s why I decided to launch kwik as the next big step in e-commerce, offering IoT-based automatic replenishment through a complete end-to-end IoT solution, from the wireless IoT sensors to integration with any third-party system.
kwik launched in 2015, and today I manage a diverse global team that has closed deals with some of the biggest consumer brands in the U.S. The kwik solution has already been deployed by leading brands and retailers worldwide, allowing consumers to automatically replenish products and helping brands understand where, when and what their customers are buying in real-time.
2. What specific problem does kwik solve? How do you solve it?
OK: Most retailers today fulfill orders based on one-time user-based orders. However, there are many challenges with user-based ordering, including high delivery costs, slow supply chain processes, low customer retention and no user interface for optimal reordering.
kwik is solving this problem through our automatic replenishment technology. The seamless IoT automatic reordering solution allows programmatic ordering based on actual usage, which brings a new level of convenience and ease of use to consumers.
Our IoT solution uses sensors and advanced machine learning algorithms to detect usage and calculate inventory levels for consumables such as coffee pods, water, dishwasher and laundry detergent, and many other products.
kwik is changing the paradigm from user-based ordering, where the user initiates all orders, to usage-based ordering. With kwik, consumers can be assured that they will never run out of their favorite products. Brands and retailers benefit from lower supply chain and delivery costs, since the system can alert brands that a customer is about to run out 7-10 days in advance. Brands also see increased customer loyalty, and they gain valuable real-time statistical data on user habits and engagement.
3. What’s the future of retail?
OK: The future of retail is all about ease of use for the consumer. Consumers want shopping to be hassle-free, convenient and something that reduces – not increases – the stresses of everyday life. With each step in the evolution of e-commerce, shopping has become progressively easier, and automatic replenishment can play a big part in simplifying shoppers’ lives by ensuring that they always have the products they need without having to give it a second thought.
This focus on consumer simplification, though, means that retailers and brands must automate supply chain processes and embrace advanced technologies such as IoT, machine learning, and AI. Real-time measurement of consumable products gives retailers and brands the data they need to anticipate and seamlessly fulfill consumer needs. Technologies such as these are essential in order for retailers to bring new levels of convenience and personalized service to consumers.
4. What are the top 3 technology trends you’re seeing in retail?
Trend #1: IoT is moving squarely into the mainstream, as is evidenced by the rise of wearables, smart appliances, connected homes and much more. Leading retailers and brands have embraced IoT, too, and we’re proud a number of them are seeing tremendous value in our kwik solution. We recently won first prize at a consumer goods competition for P&G in Europe for our automatic replenishment technology.
Trend #2: In addition to IoT, we’re seeing tremendous advances in store automation. For example, a company called Simbe has launched a robotics solution that performs the repetitive and laborious tasks of auditing shelves for out-of-stock items, low stock items, misplaced items, and pricing errors. It operates alongside shoppers and employees during normal store hours.
Trend #3: Other companies are redefining the very idea of a store. Amazon Go is a fully automated convenience store that operates without human employees, relying instead on fully automated technologies that eliminate checkout lines and get shoppers in and out quickly. Others are pushing the envelope even further; a Swedish startup and a Chinese university have created a supermarket on wheels that takes the store directly to humans.
5. Why is the retail industry ripe for disruption?
OK: Amazon continues to redefine the standards for e-commerce and the user experience, training consumers to expect things such as free shipping, unlimited product choice, same-day delivery and a frictionless shopping experience. Now, Amazon has upped the ante in other areas – gaining brick and mortar stores through the Whole Foods acquisition and launching its own private label brands, which analysts predict could hit $20 billion in sales in five years.
With a vast network of stores offering same-day delivery, plus an arsenal of private-label brands, Amazon becomes an even more formidable competitor. Brands have to find new ways to engage with their customers and build direct relationships with them. That’s why so many of the industry’s best brands are launching direct-to-consumer websites, offering subscription services and partnering with kwik to usher in a new era of shopper convenience and innovation.
About Ofer Klein
Ofer Klein is the founder and CEO of kwik, the provider of IoT seamless commerce solutions that connect brands and retailers directly with consumers. He manages a diverse global team and is responsible for company strategy and growth, closing deals with some of the biggest consumer brands in the U.S. in a year. He is a former Israeli Air Force combat pilot and has more than 11 years of managerial experience in the areas of IoT, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Networks.
Ofer holds an MBA in Management of Technology, Entrepreneurship & Innovation and a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Engineering from Tel Aviv University.