Based on blockchain, augmented reality, geodrop technology and social gamification, SUBAJ Global Network is going to completely transform the shopping and rewards system for the customers and merchants, says Adebayo Surakatu, Founder & CEO of the Germany based SUBAJ GmbH. Excerpts of the interview with him:
What are the inherent issues in the traditional shopping and rewards system from the merchant and customer’s perspective?
Well, as per my understanding, the traditional shopping and rewards system has been more of a calm ocean to navigate lately. It’s really getting outdated and is currently full of flaws that needs to be eradicated once and for all. More or less, the rewards have lost their true meaning and customers barely even use them. It’s not just the customers, even the merchants are not getting any significant benefits from the traditional reward system.
First things first, let’s talk about the problems faced by the customers due to traditional reward system.
The customers are now tired of the absurd offers that are barely of any use to them. They are tired of overspending just for the sake of little returns or no returns at all on their shopping. One major problem is that every merchant or retailer today is offering his own loyalty card programme which is redeemable only at one retail store. For example, getting some reward points at a fitness club won’t buy you bread at the local bakery store. So the point is, it imposes restrictions upon the customers and limits their profitability. Apart from that, there’s a lack of transparency between the customers and the merchants as there is no robust means of two-way communication between the two. As a matter of fact, over 70 per cent of the customers don’t even use their reward coupons and they just expire.
This was about the customers. But it turns out, even the merchants are suffering when it comes to traditional reward system. To attract new customers, they usually have to pay a large sum of money in terms of bank fees on PoS devices, credit card acceptance fees etc. Then, there are all sorts of marketing fees involved for printing and distributing flyers, leaflets, media, newspaper and radio advertisements. Besides, the merchants also face a cut-throat competition from the local shopping malls, retail conglomerates, online e-commerce and now mobile commerce. Although there can be an effective mobile solution to control all these different types of costs but most of the merchants and businesses refrain from adopting mobile solutions. The reasons are simple. The costs of developing an app are exorbitant and there’s also an intense competition from the mobile commerce giants. But imagine if you can list your business on a mainstream shopping and rewards app with a massive user base and backed by thousands of other merchants? Things are going to be pretty easy right? That’s the difference SUBAJ is going to bring into the lives of merchants and customers.
How these issues could be addressed with the application of technologies including blockchain, AR and AI?
What really is the technology? According to me, the technology is essentially an adoption of a service or platform to ease the way things work and to improve the efficiency and workflow of a business. And it’s about enhancing the impact of these business processes on our everyday life. In the past few decades, technology has changed the way shopping was done and it’s still progressing every year. We have moved from Aunty corner stores to supermarkets to mega malls to e-commerce and now to mobile commerce. Shopping is a major constant thing which everybody does. Whether it’s the need to purchase foods and beverages or to shop for gifts and amenities, it’s a daily consumption necessity for everyone.
The blockchain technology is heavily disrupting the way shopping is done. Usually, customers go and look for what they need; they search, compare, evaluate and then decide whether they want to buy this or not. However, the advent of blockchain technology has greatly streamlined the process. Now instead of customers searching for their products, the products are reaching the customers based on the customers’ specific needs, demographics and preferences. Elevating the interaction of customers to products, the use of Augmented Reality brings a new dimension to the shopping world. It creates an interactive experience of a real-world environment where products, rewards, goods or services are augmented and directly over layed on a mixed reality platform. Customers no longer need to query or search extensively for the product information and locations of their availability. They can now see it popping up on their camera enabled mobile phone app as they walk through the streets. The customers can engage and interact with the merchants in a transparent manner and are informed in real-time of exactly when they will be needing merchant offers and services.
While customers enjoy these new and easy shopping experiences, Artificial Intelligence as a technology is necessary to study the pattern, search, click and buying habits of the customers as well as the merchants. With smart AI algorithms, customers’ predictive shopping pattern can be monitored and their interest in certain products depending on several factors can be mapped out intelligently. Using Lead Semantic Matching technology, implementing AI techniques into retail commerce is the next big game changer in the shopping world. Based on the images, words search, products clicked or items bought, embedding artificial intelligence into digital-image marketing will change the future of Shopping. AI-image search is central to its ambitions of building a data-science model that drives highly relevant product offerings to consumers across the social web and its becoming the retail sector’s next big digital shopping experience.
Through SUBAJ you promise to revamp the shopping experience of billions of customers from across the globe and disrupted the traditional approach of using a point-based reward system. What’s your game plan to achieve your stated objective
Being active in the loyalty rewards and fintech space for over 10 years, I have experienced a tremendous change in the needs of both customers and merchants. SUBAJ aims to bring a real value backed loyalty programme to the customers each time they shop. The customers need to see the value of what they are getting back as loyalty. No more unnecessary points, now they get crypto tokens with real value. With SUBAJ tokens, we offer a real tradeable asset to the customers for free. Our goal is to build the biggest global shopping network of retailers, merchants, businesses and companies (both online and offline) so that the customers can enjoy the benefits each time they shop. They can also trade or exchange the rewards tokens they get for further goods and services at any other merchant store. Interconnecting all merchants together creates a shared economy for the retail industry. Tokens received from the aviation company can be used at the bakery store to redeem food. We are forming a global community of merchants where SBJ is the centralized token that powers the entire ecosystem. This drives more value into SUBAJ token and hence greater benefits to all participants. Our plan is to use the latest technology of blockchain, augmented reality, geodrop technology and social gamification to unravel a new shopping experience for the customers. With the launch of SUBAJ App (slated for July 2019), we aim at connecting our platform to millions of merchants and businesses.
What are going to be the tangible benefits to the merchants and customers?
Let’s start with the merchants. Merchants are always put in a bad light in the retail chain. They not only cut down on costs to attract customers but also pay heavily each time they use services from third parties. With SUBAJ, merchants will enjoy better services which not only aids them in generating more revenue but they also get rewards each time they use our blockchain platform. SUBAJ provides a full mobile strategy to the merchants; they can be seen by millions of customers on the SUBAJ app which brings a global awareness to the merchants. Moreover, merchants can use the SUBAJ patented geodrop technology to target and offer their products, services, rewards, coupons and offer them to the customer within a specific geographical zone. Merchants can launch various offers that appear on the SUBAJ’s augmented reality app and is visible to any customer within 100m zone radius. With the value of SUBAJ token increasing rapidly, merchants can also accept SUBAJ coin as a payment method and elevate the extra fees on transactions processes. For the first time, small merchants can accept tokens of big retail companies and participate in the holistic shopping ecosystem of the customers.
The merchants can save immensely on effective real time advertisements. They can easily analyse their customers’ choices, preferences and shopping behaviour which will further help them in effectively targeting different groups of customers. The solution will help them in attracting more customers, cutting down their expenses and maximizing their profits. They will get an active support from a global community of thousands of merchants, retailers, companies, clubs and businesses.
If we talk about the benefits to the customers, they don’t need to carry 6-10 loyalty cards, just download the SUBAJ app and manage all your loyalty coupons at one place. There are instant real time offers, discounts, coupons everywhere; free SUBAJ tokens with lots of social experience through gamification for them. They get a transparent system where they can easily interact with the merchants in their area or anywhere across the world. Most importantly, the customers can redeem loyalty reward points received from one merchant at any other merchant or retail store.
What progress has been made so far to create and build the partners network?
SUBAJ is continuously building and expanding its business ties with many corporate organizations in rewards and loyalty industry. We currently have partnership with major groups giving us access to hundreds of thousands of merchants and millions of customers from across the globe. We have mapped out our targeting partners and discussions are on the way.
Our goal is to have hundreds of millions of customers downloading the SUBAJ app with millions of merchants connected through the SUBAJ platform. Working closely with fast food chains, retail conglomerates, e-commerce giants, financial institutions and other service providers, SUBAJ aims at building a global (online/offline) marketplace for everyone. SUBAJ finds it necessary to collaborate with industry leaders and we prioritize this relationship through events like Global Blockchain Congress or New Age Banking Summit, which are very helpful towards meeting targeted partners and service providers. SUBAJ is official blockchain partner or sponsor of these events.
What is the road map you have set for Subaj? What gives you the confidence that you will achieve your goals?
SUBAJ will be operational from 18 June 2018 with our official Pre-ICO launch of the SUBAJ token. The Pre-ICO is scheduled to take place at the New Age Banking Summit Europe in Warsaw, Poland. The crowdsale follows immediately after 19 July 2018 and will go on till 1 August 2018. On November 2018, we will showcase the SUBAJ coin development and get listings done on all exchange platforms. The SUBAJ app and exchange platform will be launched in December 2018.
In June 2019, we will launch the SUBAJ Global Marketplace and Merchant POS. By July 2019, we’ll complete the whole platform by launching the geodrop technology, merchant token creation platform. Go LIVE starts from August 2019 and we’ll start a global movement in each country worldwide. We have not only the required experience and execution capabilities, we also have a strong diligent team of developers, advisors, business analysts, marketing strategists, brand developers, legal counsellors and experts working closely with us in making this a reality. As we continue development, we will increase our team to bring in more and more solution driven experts and establish more collaborations onto building the SUBAJ project.
You have also inbuilt social investment proposition in Subaj. How does it work?
Yes, this is in fact the only mission and vision of SUBAJ project. Having seen what crisis we still face in our modern day world, it’s important that we do our part to the society as well. Despite the access to the high end technology, still many children don’t have clean water to drink, don’t have vaccines to stay healthy and can’t afford get education. SUBAJ has established the SUBAJ Charity Foundation, a non profit NGO that uses the SUBAJ technology platform to help the less privileged and deprived children of the world. Ten percent of the free tokens received by a customer goes into the SUBAJ Charity Foundation where these funds will be used to provide clean drinkable water, medical vaccines, better education and even the Internet accessibility in rural and remote areas of the world.
Technology can also impact the social life and welfare of people if properly used and tailored to benefit others. Charity donations should not wait until a disaster happens. In fact, every second is a disaster when a poor child dies of hunger or can’t afford clean water. Let’s make the world a more meaningful and better place.
SUBAJ is using blockchain technology to impact the social welfare of the less privileged. We urge all industry players to join us in this movement.