A sticky endeavour: Why we made Stickyretail

There are two kinds of blogs: those that are thought about, researched, refined... nurtured, perhaps, over time. And the other kind is this one: just written from start to finish. Just like Yesterday.

When we wrote the first line of Sticky code in October 2019, we knew we had to show the world how powerful yet easy-to-use our application layer would be. Our first prototype was a simple app that delivered personalised video exercises in the gym. But this was not a complex app, and to be blunt, it wasn't going to generate any revenue.

What does the future of fitness look like?

In December 2019, we looked at the retail sector. What we saw didn't look good. The message we took from everything we read was that retail was in some kind of battle of physical or digital. There was some good news, however. The latest thinking was that for retail to survive, it needed to think more holistically; that is, not be concerned with being a sector that is physical or digital, but a sector that is both. Since we had already established ourselves as thought leaders in physical and digital apps, retail became our focus.

If consumerism optimises for optionality, why is society obsessed with the Boolean? Real opportunity exists at the intersection of ideas rather than the necessity of choice

Before we built anything, we assessed the market for retailtech. There was a bunch of tech that allowed brick-and-mortar stores to run online stores, a la Shopify, but not much that connected the in-store experience to the digital experience. Then there was a lot of tech that was designed to stop people shopping online and get them back on the high street, for example by improving the in-store experience. This attitude seemed odd; we know consumers like shopping online.

The in-store experience companies had us thinking. What would a retail experience look like if it were physical and digital? The first step seemed to be to make a great digital experience and interface that to the physical world through our stickers. But who else was making progress? Companies were spending millions on improving their in-store experiences, or throwing in the towel and ‘moving to digital' completely.

That's when we got our second piece of good news. Both in-store and digital experiences (online stores) were still pretty terrible! Why? It wasn't a hard one to figure out.

Left: an online store (via Instagram ad click-through). Right: Stickyretail. Perfection is not achieved when there's nothing more to add, but when there's nothing more to take away. What went wrong?

(1) The in-store experiences were ‘too digital'; that means they didn't value the things that made physical retail good. Often, the in-store smartphone experience was a rehash - or direct embedding - of the retailer's website. These experiences were painful to try, and we knew we had to do better.

(2) Digital experiences didn't provide much hope either. Online stores were designed to make shopping like exploring a giant discounter warehouse with a barcode scanner: banner ads, discount codes, complex filtering, endless rows of lazy-loaded products and high cart abandonment. The companies making software for online stores had caught a significant case of desktop feature creep. They had done too much.

So we built Stickyretail not only to show the power and ease-to-use of our application layer, but also to do justice to retail.

We built Stickyretail to change retail forever.