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CityBcon - Mobile Technology Designed to Revolutionise the High Street

May 20, 2015 - Added by Sync IE     807 views     0 likes     0 comments
Sync NI caught up with John Fleming to discuss his experience of the inaugural Irish Accenture FinTech Programme. This intense 12 week programme culminated in Fleming pitching his mobile app CityBcon to investors in both Dublin and London last month.

CityBcon is a mobile app that provides small and medium retailers with a new mobile sales channel.  The app allows retailers to reach their customers with targeted promotions and offers and to transact on smartphones (iOS and Android).  Most small retailers won’t have a native presence on smartphones. With CityBcon, they will.

The problem we solve?

We focus our attention on the SME high street retailer who currently faces many challenges, in particular massive and growing competition from online stores. Online sales are growing at a rate of 16% per annum in comparison to high street sales growth of 3%.

We realised that the majority of SME retailers did not plan to release mobile apps due to cost, complexity of development and volume download challenges. Irish Consumers are avid smartphone users with the Irish regulator ‘Comreg’ reporting that mobile data usage has grown by 75% among smartphone users over the last 12 months.

Customers are increasingly using their mobile device to spend money with mobile commerce increasing at three times the rate of online spend. And with online spend here in the Irish Republic alone at €6Bn we can see the importance of this trend towards mobile and the magnitude of the mobile commerce market.

CityBcon ensures that the SME Retailer does not remain invisible to its consumers by giving retail partners a presence on our mobile platform.

How CityBcon Works?

Our technology is built around five pillars: content, beacon detection, analytics, messaging, and payment. The content is curated in-house and is of the highest quality, including high quality photography, as this greatly defines the user experience. Beacon detection is core to our value proposition to both retailers and users, providing spontaneous context driven content. We’re working with LocalSocial and Aplix in this area.

The beacons do more than provide context however. They are the backbone of our analytics system which is being developed on IBM Watson Analytics. The beacon locations are tied to brands in our content management system, which helps us develop user profiles. We further develop user insight through social media integration. Layered on top of this is the messaging system, which only communicates with users about brands (and businesses) they love. We’re using another IBM product in this area, and finally payment, which is likely to be via FEXCO’s mobile payments solution.

All of this technology is largely hidden from the retailer and user. The retailer can work with us via email, we do the rest. They can be live on CityBcon gaining mobile app presence in a few hours. For the user, they just get a great experience which they can control.

A key innovation for us is building a list of loyal customers for our merchant partners.  Once a user has been in store for a few minutes we note this via the beacon and add this to the store’s CityBcon fan list, especially building a marketing list for subsequent targeted communication.  These footfall additions are then combined with the user’s social media brand and store likes, creating a 360 view of the user shopping habits.

My Journey

Building a commercially viable product is challenging but the Product Management Programme at the Dublin Institute of Technology trained me to better understand the complexities involved in building products which customers love.

Today, CityBcon has over 20 beacon sites live across Dublin including retail outlets, restaurants and hotels.  Aer Lingus has also come on board as part of our partner programme.

We have just completed the Accenture Fintech Accelerator and IBM Global Entrepreneur Programme is helping us to build the product.

This has not been a straight road.  We have had to demonstrate value to retailers and so introduced beacon technology into our product.  We have funded this product ourselves with some help from Enterprise Ireland.  Starting up is a series of failures, culminating, hopefully, in success.

What’s the ultimate goal?

We really want to make a difference on the high street, giving powerful native mobile solutions to retailers of all sizes while building a shopping experience that users love.  And to do this around the world, via partners.  That’s not too much to ask, is it?!

Follow @CityBcon

This article is featured in the Sync NI Spring magazine.