Q. Can you give me a brief overview of jisp and how the company was founded?

jisp started about four years ago. We started as a company that built unique software for the online marketplace. It created personal shoppers for websites to improve user experience. After looking at an item online, the personal shopper continued to search for similar or better products at competitive prices.

We wanted to integrate a similar system into the high street retail system. However, coming up with a reliable and cost-effective solution was difficult. After a chance meeting with the head of science in ecommerce at research firm Ipsos MORI we understood that we needed to merge the physical and ecommerce world. This is how jisp was born.

Q. What are the company’s main products or services?

Our two main products, jispGO and the Digital Passport, are designed to bring online shopping to the high street. These solutions allow any business in the retail and hospitality industry, such as airports, restaurants and retail stores to engage with consumers in-store and online simultaneously.

jispGO is a shopping experience app that can be used by any retail store, no matter the size. We use specially coded near field communication (NFC) stickers that can be attached to any item in the shop, such as posters, price tags on clothes or shelves and any end-of-unit display. This is the same technology made popular by contactless mobile payments the world over. The sticker is ultra-thin and small and coded to give shoppers all the information they need about the product. The technology is also incredibly fast and works up to four times faster than reading a barcode or QR code.

Our Digital Passport is an automated solution for tracking free-standing display units (FSDUs). According to our research, more than 70 per cent of these units are lost, damaged or positioned wrongly on the shop floor. This costs businesses thousands in missed marketing and sales opportunities.

By using NFC stickers, brands can monitor the journey of the unit from production and then to delivery, logistics and placement on the shop floor, ensuring it delivers maximum impact. Once the unit is on the shop floor, brand managers will have access to accurate customer analytics to determine the success of the campaign. Any information the customer gains from scanning the labels will stay on the device for the consumer to reference at a later date and can be used by the business for continued engagement.

Our apps help to provide smarter shopping experiences at an affordable cost for retailers, using automation to secure the future of the high street.

Q. What is the greatest challenge the company has overcome?

We are all aware that the British high street has suffered over the last few years and more shops close each year. Fast-growing online retail stores are one of the reasons that more stores are empty, but we want the industry to know that moving completely online is not the only way to encourage consumers to shop with them.

Most shoppers between the ages of 18 and 40 are very comfortable with mobile devices, so they immediately want every bit of relevant information delivered to them digitally. This suggests that consumers prefer online shopping but our research also suggests that these consumers still regularly use the high street. Consumers want the interaction of speaking to people on the high street, they also want retailers to market their stores to have the information and opportunities that they require.

Our main challenge was to convince high street retailers that they needed to change their processes to reach this market. Some retailers did not understand that there is an intermediate step before going online-only, that technology can be used to enhance the in-store experience. Our technology can integrate with existing processes in-store, so retailers can simply apply the NFC stickers to their shelves and give consumers what they require.

We also have more challenges to overcome. Our next challenge is to convince retailers that they should remove checkout desks all together. We believe that if we want the High street to thrive again then staff need to be on the shop floor to help give shoppers information and make purchasing decisions. With technology like jisp, store managers can focus on the people, the most important part of their business. They can use the app to deliver the right information, order the correct products and act as a virtual checkout.

Q. What is the main innovation you bring to the market?

Consumers make thousands of small decisions on the high street, such as what size clothing they need, what colour cushions match their sofa or if the food they want to eat contains allergens that might affect them. Our technology helps to provide consumers with the information that will make decision-making much easier.

For example, we are currently working with fast food outlets, convenience stores and restaurants to improve allergy prevention. With jispGO, consumers can enter their allergies into the app before scanning a food product or reading a restaurant menu. The system will then warn the user if they choose a product containing one of the allergens. We are also developing a part of the app that can scan the entire menu and remove items containing the allergen, giving customers more security when making decisions.

Q. How does jisp tie into the growing use of automation in retail?

Amazon Go’s Just Walk Out concept showed the industry what the future holds in retail. While this is a great concept, it involves integrating sophisticated and expensive automation that smaller retailers will not be able to afford. Our apps help to provide smarter shopping experiences at an affordable cost for retailers, using automation to secure the future of the high street.