Indonesia’s Slingshot Group introduces AR/VR store network
By Masyitha Baziad March 24, 2017
- Mindstores is a virtual store network platform to empower women
- Currently has 8,000 women storeowners, aims for 150,000 in two months
INDONESIAN augmented reality (AR) company Slingshot Group (formerly known as AR Group) introduces a virtual store network called Mindstores targeting local women and housewives.
Launched in 2016, Mindstores is the world’s first AR/VR network store platform that allows brand partners to offer a virtual franchise license of the stores to women who want to open the virtual business at a reasonable price.
“If one minimart franchise usually costs you up to US$70,000 per store, the virtual store will only cost US$100 and that will be the money the store owner can use to buy stuff for their store,
“Once the US$100 credit is finished, the store owner needs to top up and continue their business as usual,” Slighshot Group chairman and chief executive officer Daniel Surya (pic, above) explains.
Brands and retailers can partner with Mindstores to open up their inventory to be sold in the virtual stores. Anyone can then register as a virtual storeowner. Once approved, they will be able to sell anything from that store virtually.
Storeowners however need to buy in bulk, acting as an individual distribution channel, where the retail partners handle the logistics and product delivery.
It has been less than six months, and Mindstores currently has 8,000 virtual stores owned by 8,000 women in the country, the majority of whom are in cities around Java. They aim to have 150,000 stores within the next two months.
Daniel says that the possible number of virtual stores that can be opened with the Mindstores technology can hit four million in the next two years.
Mindstores has more than 5,000 products with a 2.3x basket size growth compared to physical stores.
Mindstores will have two other local retailers joining as partners, namely insurance company PT Astra Aviva Life as well as food retailer PT Primafood International.
Mindstores’ first partnership was with one of the largest retail chains in Indonesia, PT Sumber Alfaria Trijaya (Alfamart) in June last year. Alfamart also owns e-commerce company Alfacart.
Under a new business unit called Alfamind, Alfamart opens up its inventory and stores to a virtual network that can be owned by anyone, and can be accessed via smartphones or tablet, as a franchise strategy.
Storeowners need to have a smartphone to be able to download the store app and conduct all transactions via the app.
Once the application is open, it shows the three-dimensional virtual store, in this case Alfamind, which storeowners can enter.
Once inside the virtual store, storeowners can sell all of the products under categories such as fashion and home appliances. Currently, under the partnership with Alfamind, 80% of the products are not daily necessities, and are fulfilled by Alfacart.
Storeowners then can order goods from the virtual store in bulk, and deliver it to their buyers once the products reach their location.
All transaction data is stored with Mindstores’ system, enabling it to use big data analytics for technology improvement.
While most of the technology companies in the country seek to empower men, Daniel says that Mindstores was built with the empowerment of women in mind.
“Our internal research actually shows that women have a tendency to thrive in business, have longer endurance, and can easily establish and maintain trust, which is the key to trade in the country,” he explains.
In Indonesia, one of the challenges facing e-commerce is the lack of trust, hence many players are leveraging on the online to offline (O2O) channel, as well as putting agents in the field.
For Daniel, the technology behind Mindstores works differently, but also aims to create access to trade and commerce to as many people as possible.
“We are currently only working with big brands who are trusted, and have credibility in the market already, like Alfamart. Why? Because we are selling the idea of virtual stores, where every transaction is made online and we need to ensure that the storeowners trust us,” he says.
He adds that by having a virtual store, women can still stay at home, carry out their daily activities, take care of the kids, and still be able to earn some money.
Mindstores’ technology is scalable, meaning that it can be replicated to another industry easily. However, the company is focusing on building the retail and fast and moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector first.
Besides Mindstores, Slingshot Group also operates augmented reality technology company AR & Co, as well as one-one media interactive placement DÄV. The group currently has seven offices around the world including Jakarta, Singapore, Silicon Valley, Los Angeles, New York, Barcelona, and Malta.
As of today, 50% of the company’s business comes from AR&Co, with projects mostly outside of the home country. DÄV and Mindstores share the other 50%.
“We stay true to our focus, that we want to democratise augmented reality, so that everyone can use it, everyone can enjoy the benefit of it.
“We also want to be a global brand that originated from Indonesia, making a name for our country on the world stage,” Daniel adds.
With AR&Co, the Group is aiming at a more mature global market such as the United States, and Europe. With DÄV, it wants to tap Europe, Southeast Asia, and Latin America, with Japan and the Philippines being the markets they are looking at this year. For Mindstores, the group wants to focus on Indonesia, India, and China.