The point-of-sale (POS) market over the past 5 years has undergone quite the renaissance of sorts. If you remember, way back in the day, cash registers were like pieces of art. Ahhh the glory days.
Then came the brutalist period of massive computers that hid the cashiers away from the customer because of their bulk and exquisitely poor taste in design. You know the ones…
Then came Square, Revel, Toast, Clover and the like. Over the past five years a new age of sexy POS has come to fruition and completely upended the old industry.
With all of these great checkout solutions for small and medium sized businesses, people can take pride in their checkout counters once again.
But, making the checkout process even more streamlined will take another layer of technology to integrate both the in-and-out of store shopping experience into one seamless solution. That is where Tyme Commerce comes into play.
I sat down with Co-Founder & CEO Bobby Marhamat of Tyme Commerce to discuss how he and his team are putting the finishing touches on an industry that has already undergone so much change.
Bobby, you spent a significant amount of time at the POS provider Revel that has grown into a sizeable business. How did that experience shape your vision for Tyme Commerce?
Revel is a great company that grew as fast as it did because we listened to our customers (restaurant and retail owners). We created solutions to their problems by creating a ‘revenue center’ mentality instead of looking at the POS as just a transaction vehicle. We created Tyme to take the next step in fixing local commerce.
Tyme is not intended to be another POS company since that field is maturing now and many merchants have invested heavily in their existing POS platforms. Instead, the Tyme Commerce platform will be deployed alongside the POS technology and will add an additional layer of convenience for end consumers, while driving additional value and revenue to merchants.
For example, a merchant will continue to operate its POS terminals at the counter, but Tyme would also allow consumers to bypass the line, place their orders directly through their phones, and do that while viewing a streamlined menu that is personalized for their own tastes and preferences. Analogously, the merchants will be able to reduce the wait time, increase transaction throughput, improve customer experience, and present to consumers their own branded ordering environment customized for them.
How do you define Tyme Commerce as a business?
Initially, as an add-on commerce platform designed to supplement existing shopping platforms, improve consumer experience, drive additional merchant revenue, and help local commerce compete with Amazon and other online e-commerce.
In the mid- to long-term, we envision that Tyme would become a data company since the value that can be added to consumer experience and to merchant businesses through intelligent commerce data analytics is immense and can dwarf traditional transactional revenue models.
Recently, Amazon has shown signs of investing in highlighting local businesses on Amazon. So what is the exact market differentiator that will set you apart from any other competition?
Amazon can do great things and has the financial ability to subsidize local initiatives, but fundamentally it will likely remain centered around its online marketplace. Note that much of Amazon’s push into local commerce seems to be focused on improving delivery times. Unfortunately for Amazon, as long as products are coming from far away, and as long as product selection remains driven by the online ordering process, the ability to fulfill locally will remain limited.
Tyme Commerce takes a completely opposite approach: we are focusing on local commerce and creating product and services availability through the local merchants. We also seek to provide to local merchants a sophisticated shopping platform driven by complex data analytics that can successfully compete with Amazon’s e-commerce platform. We can do for local commerce what Amazon did for online commerce.
Furthermore, as we aggregate local merchant offerings, we envision creating an online e-commerce platform that can take on Amazon on its own online turf, but this time powered by local commerce and benefiting the local economy. The fastest possible fulfilment in the end will be the order fulfillment done in store by a local merchant – not to mention the consumer satisfaction of finding what he or she wants locally, having a lower carbon footprint for the order fulfillment, and helping keep jobs in the local community.
Who is the core type of organization (both size and type of retailer) that you think will find value from a service like this?
Tyme Commerce can deploy a very sophisticated L-Commerce platform with capabilities that exceed anything that individual local retailers can do, and rivaling Amazon and other leading e-commerce online merchants.
And the keys to this platform will be (1) the scalability and low-cost benefits of leveraging the consumers’ mobile phones, and (2) sophisticated real-time commerce data analytics helping the merchants drive commerce and improving the consumers’ shopping experiences by serving them data that is relevant to them.
How will you manage to keep customer acquisition cost low and will you look to partner with POS pro viders to find quicker scale?
Our distribution strategy is simple but clearly defined. On the merchant front, we aim to partner with POS providers as this is a complementary product that provides lots of value for their merchant customers.
We also intend to have an inbound development team that is fueled by a proprietary algorithm that tells us which partners we should deploy first to attract the most amount of consumers. On the consumer front, there is so much value in saving “tyme,” and utilizing a menu that is specifically personalized for them that we are very confident that obtaining consumers will be a network effect.
Once the product is ready, what will the go-to-market approach be?
We currently have a list of 25 beta merchants that are helping us build the very best product out there. Once the product is fully ready, we intend to start in the SF Bay Area and then branch out to other markets with dense populations to help the most amount of people enjoy the value of Tyme.
You talk about monetizing the platform through transactions. Why go this route rather than creating a subscription model with more predictable revenues?
Transactional pricing aligns us with the merchants and more of a performance model. We only get paid if the merchants get paid. Our premise is that we can help merchants expand their businesses by providing a superior experience to that of other commerce.
In doing that, transactional pricing will be more lucrative than a fixed SAAS model. And once we collect a sufficient set of commerce data, the additional value and monetization opportunities will shift, and we believe that the value of data will dwarf even transactional pricing
How much onboarding do you imagine will be involved in integrating with an organizations POS and e-commerce website configuration to create the omni-channel experience you are talking about?
This is the perfect time to launch the Tyme Commerce platform given the proliferation of APIs that we have built in and the seamless flow of data between various commerce platforms. Since merchants typically own their data under applicable laws and regulations, adopting a merchant-centric approach to scaling should help us close the loop with all other vend ors in the space.
From a customer perspective, how will the experience of purchasing from a local store be improved by the Tyme Commerce experience?
Tyme is dedicated to creating a superior experience by personalizing experiences for our end users thereby saving them tyme all while making the world in front of them — all about them. In addition to that, local commerce remains broken.
It is virtually impossible to search all shoe stores in a geographic area for a particular shoe unless they have an e-commerce platform and the merchants are disciplined about updating their inventory. We help enable local commerce in an efficient way while helping the hyperlocal markets thrive.
As far as blockchain technology goes how does this technology better enable you to execute on your vision for the stores and customers?
Blockchain provides a perfect platform to tokenize loyalty and to ensure immutable transaction flow. We look to Blockchain as an infrastructure solution, and we are focused on compliance and interoperability with existing technologies and business models.
In addition, deploying on Blockchain allows us to enable TymeCash on a global scale thereby creating more value for our customers. As our business model shifts towards commerce data monetization, smart contracts and other Blockchain tools can further streamline our operations and help with scaling.
Again, the timing for our platform to hit the marketplace is perfect – 1-2 years ago we would have been too early.
In one line what would you tell someone on the fence about investing in you to convince them otherwise?
We want to improve the shopping experience for consumers in their own neighborhoods, help local merchants compete with online e-commerce, boost local economies by leveraging Commerce data intelligently, and decrease carbon footprint and ecological impact by shifting online shopping to local purchases.
Talk to us to discuss our vision in more detail, think about your experience as a consumer, and talk to local Brick and Mortar merchants and see what they need to compete with e-commerce.
We would not be doing this if we did not think that we can make a positive contribution and solve a strong commercial problem better than existing commerce platforms. If you think the Tyme Commerce platform can improve the commerce space and help local economies, consider joining us as an early investor. Thank you for your consideration in any event!
Customization and local! They are terms we seem to throw around more and more often everyday. People want their lives to be full of customized tailored offerings, but they also want to shop local and feel a part of their communities.
Perhaps this is a side effect of living in a world of software that seems to solve our every need and make our lives more frictionless.
Needless to say, Tyme Commerce is the next step in the POS world that will work to bring the consumer demand for customization and local shopping to life! This is a really interesting startup and one we will be following closely moving forward.