B8ta promises to revolutionize retail with new format

A new retail format showcasing Internet of Things products is set to debut in Silicon Valley, and promises to not just sell products, but provide brands with real-time insights into customer behavior.

The concept, b8ta, was developed by four alumni of Nest, an early entry into the IoT market that was acquired by Apple. The folks behind b8ta say it is the first brick-and-mortar retailer dedicated to IoT, and they promise it will transform retail. Other retailers including Best Buy, Sears and Target are developing IoT stores and concepts, but b8ta includes new back-end technology.

The store utilizes a proprietary software stack to provide companies selling products in the store with real-time insight into conversion metrics. It will also let them "curate every step of the customer journey to control their brand identity and consistency," according to the company.

Feedback from the store's software will provide critical information to the many new startups and brands creating consumer products for the growing IoT category.

"Right now, consumer desire for innovative products is booming, and there's never been a better time to be a maker," said Vibhu Norby, CEO and co-founder of b8ta. "However, most new products don't make it into stores until months or years after they've launched because traditional retail is fundamentally broken and the product introduction process is arduous, especially for new companies. At b8ta, we've built technology that makes brick-and-mortar retail easier and quicker to set up and sell."

B8ta has partnered with RetailNext to provide companies information about foot traffic and engagement, similar to what online retailers can receive from Google Analytics. It's a reverse engineering of the online experience for the physical environment, according to the company.

The space will provide shoppers with hands-on experience with the new technology. Digital displays show real-time pricing and product information to alleviate the need for the use of smartphones in stores.

"B8ta is a retailer that showcases the products, not the packaging, one that makers can sign up for and manage online, that uses human language, provides real-time data on traffic and sales, and has a simple business model that doesn't require a team of lawyers to execute," Norby wrote on the company's blog. "Our showroom will have a collection of nearly 50 incredible makers and their technology products that you can try out of the box and buy, same day. For many of these makers, b8ta will be their first step into brick-and-mortar retail and their first opportunity to showcase their products the way they're meant to be seen. For other makers, b8ta will be their opportunity to let you experience a familiar product in a new way."

The store will open in Palo Alto, California, on Dec. 11.

For more:
-Read the blog post by b8ta founder Vibhu Norby
-See this b8ta press release

Related stories:
Target makes big IoT statement with 'Open House' shop
Target adding 'smart home' sections in stores
Target CEO Cornell places big bet on technology
IoT worth its hype; $1.2 trillion impact on retail predicted
Target to roll out RFID price tags this year

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