Interview with Andre Hordagoda, Co-Founder at Immersive Virtual Shopping Experience Go Instore

My business partner Aman and I founded Go Instore in 2014 to offer an in-store experience to online customers and transform the detached aspect of online shopping.

Essentially, Go Instore is a technology platform that gives online shoppers the opportunity to engage with a highly trained product expert via live video. Our technology solution gives shoppers that one-to-one human contact they would otherwise miss when shopping through a website.

At a time when shoppers weren’t allowed to visit physical stores, the pandemic has fuelled a growing demand for our platform as people can continue to enjoy that in-store shopping experience from anywhere.

The online shopping habits consumers adopted during the pandemic are expected to continue, so, humanising the customer experience in the digital world has never been more important and we are here to help retailers make the transition. In total, our technology has driven tens of millions of pounds in incremental sales for our customers as it enhances consumers’ shopping experiences and reflects the encounters they would enjoy if they walked into a physical store.

Brands are reaping the benefits of our platform and seeing their conversion rates grow from as little as 1-2% to up to 30%. The number of brands using our platform is increasing at a rate of 4-5 month-on-month, globallyand we have now gone from a core team of 12 to a global team of 70 people and we are looking to expand even further.
 
 
Go Instore (@goinstore) | Twitter
 

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

 
Aman, who has been a close friend of mine since school, and I have both worked in the retail tech space for over 10 years. One day, we identified a weakness in the growing, yet highly impersonal trend of online shopping: digital shopping channels have extremely low conversion rates compared to physical shops. The in-store conversion rate is around 20% while only between 1-2% of people who visit a retailer’s website will make a purchase.

The realisation for Go Instore as a concept came when I was in a luxury bag store my sister managed at the time. I was there visiting her and for 45 minutes, no one came in. I thought to myself, you’ve got your highest converting assets, the staff, not doing anything, but the website traffic is abundant: what if we take the experiential element of a physical visit and put it onto the furthest reaching footfall capacity of a website? It’s like taking your best store and unleashing it onto the whole of the internet.

The real traction for brands came when they started to hire dedicated store staff to convert online traffic. That was the penny drop moment when we started to say this can drive exponential growth for businesses. Now we have massive brands like Samsung, Pandora, Miele, Debeers and Curry’s PC World who are putting more effort into their online channels than ever before.
 

 

What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

 
Take a leap of faith. All the business books will tell you the steps you should follow to establish a successful organisation, but you must put everything on the line and just go for it. Confidence and belief in yourself are key. But I couldn’t have done it without Aman by my side. If I am feeling doubtful, he will bring me up and vice versa. Mentally both of us focus on optimism and perseverance. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had sleepless nights, we’ve had self-doubt. Everyone’s self-belief wavers at some point. However, if you have a strong mindset and a strong business partner, you can face the challenges you encounter with conviction.
 

What can we hope to see from Go Instore in the future?

 
Our business is currently experiencing rapid expansion. We recently launched Go Instore in North America and are now working with some of the biggest names in retail around the world. At the beginning of the year, we were taking a few hundred calls a day through the platform but now we are seeing over 35,000 daily. That’s a growth rate of
10,000%! We really believe this is just the beginning of the retail revolution and that before long, video powered retail will be the norm.

We are also helping several big-name retailers set up Dark Stores – physical hubs dedicated entirely to supporting online shopping. Dark Stores can connect all a retailer’s online traffic to an individual location, where product experts, using Go Instore, are able to communicate directly with online shoppers. The concept has already proven to deliver a superior customer experience as we have seen the Average Order Value (AOV) increase around 200% through the Dark Store.

We are having regular conversations about what retailers can do to continue transforming the lack of physical footfall, into digital footfall in a captivating way that increases consumer confidence and boosts the online experience. We are taking these conversations and continually innovating our platform. Really, we don’t foresee our rapid growth to slow anytime soon so watch this space … this is only the beginning for Go Instore!