Back in February, the 22 brick and mortar stores especially attracted customers interested in new technologies. They could try out new products directly in the store that thus far were barely even available on the market. All products are out of their packaging and ready for action. VR gadgets can be put on, games can be played, even smart clothes can be tried on. If any questions arise, the trained narrators – the start-up does not want to call its store staff salespeople – are ready to answer them anytime. The customers do not even have to buy anything in the stores – because at b8ta it is not about sales per area.
Store with advertising space and live usability lab
Instead of that, the start-up sees itself as a walk-in advertising space: companies that mainly sell their products online can use the space to offer their customers a haptic experience. If a product wins a customer over, it can be ordered and paid for online, and is then home-delivered. For the operators of b8ta, it does not even matter if the customer buys the product at b8ta.com, the manufacturer‘s own website or at a marketplace, as there is no commission per sale. Instead, the product manufacturers pay a base fee for the presence of their products in the b8ta stores – and for the information on how the customers handle the products, which the start-up collects in its stores. Because every b8ta store also functions as a live usability lab. That way, manufacturers can test how different prices or other marketing messages work in comparison with each other. “Retail as a service” is what b8ta calls its business model.