The War on Food Waste: How can Ubamarket Help?

We all love food, glorious food. But, ironically, its lack of consumption can be a real problem for the environment, the economy, and our own wallets. The Evening Standard has recently been waging a war on food waste, and in doing so it has been bringing to light some research figures that are pretty hard to swallow. A study by Wrap, for example, found that “annual food waste from UK households, hospitality and food services, food manufacturer and the retail and wholesale sectors amounts to around 12 million tonnes”. That equates to “at least 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions” and is worth “more than £19 billion a year”. Food for thought, no?

But, there’s no point crying over spilt milk, and supermarkets have finally started doing their bit to tackle the issue. For one, you might have seen some weirdly shaped wonky vegetables around of late. After all, a parsnip still tastes like a parsnip no matter what shape it is, and it’s just a bit rude to disregard them for not being as pretty as their peers (equality for all vegetables!). It’s one important step to cut down the amount of food that ends up in the bin, but probably more significantly, leading food retailers have now agreed to cut food waste by 20% by 2025.

However, supermarkets taking action is only half of the battle. According to the Love Food Hate Waste campaign, 50% of the total amount of food wasted in this country comes from our own homes. We all do it; mainly because we are busy, and let’s face it, have bigger fish to fry than always taking care to use up every morsel of food we have in the fridge. Consumers often buy things that it later turns out that we don’t need. Indeed, in our own research we found that 19% of UK adults are annoyed that they buy items in supermarkets that they already have or do not need – that equates to over 9.6 million across Britain. The result is that the typical UK family wastes £700 in uneaten food and drink every year.

Fear not though, we’ve designed an app for that! You probably already know how we aim to make shopping more time efficient, but we are also quite proud that Ubamarket can make your food shop more, erm, memory efficient too. With a list of all you’re previous purchases in your pocket at all times, not being wasteful just becomes a piece of cake.

Ubamarket: The Best Thing since Avocado on Toast?

From the Eureka moment when the initial concept was born, through the four years of innovation and elbow grease that made the dream a reality, Ubamarket’s journey to its official roll-out in-store has been monumental. And while the team here at Ubamarket Towers has always been convinced that our app is the best thing since smashed avocado on sliced bread (sourdough, of course), this counts for nothing if other people don’t share our point of view. Thankfully, the reception we’ve received so far has been fantastic.

We covered the roll-out in last week’s blog (here), while our CEO and Founder Will Broome has also offered some great insights around the long and, at times, troublesome path to launching Ubamarket in his latest blog (here). So we’ll not cover old ground; but instead we’ll take this opportunity to give ourselves a rather hearty pat on the back for some of the great press coverage Ubamarket has enjoyed since its big reveal to the world back in mid-August.

Following all the hard work – which is still ongoing as we strive for ways to improve the app – it’s gratifying to receive recognition from others that they, too, see Ubamarket as a game-changer for the retail industry. It’s been five weeks since word first spread about the app, and in the intervening period we’ve had no less than 20 pieces of coverage, with many more in the pipeline. Here’s a list of who’s been talking about us!

And this is just the beginning! There are countless more stores to implement Ubamarket in, and we’re confident that press coverage will continue to come through thick and fast – join us for the ride!

How do you Solve a Problem like… Scanning a Muffin?

This is a blog from Will Broome, Founder & CEO, Ubamarket Ltd.

Just this past week, our amazing retail app has rolled out in-store. But it’s been a long, four-year journey before arriving at what the rest of the world will see as the beginning of Ubamarket and, along the way, we’ve encountered every problem imaginable. And some we could never have imagined until they slapped us in the face like a big, wet (variable measure barcode) fish, which could have up to ten thousand price and weight variations which, in turn, need to be instantly and flawlessly recognised by the app! And breathe.

A more fundamental problem first though. How do you solve a problem like scanning a muffin? As you will know, a muffin is made of muffiny-stuff and, when you pick it up from the freshly baked goods section of your supermarket, it doesn’t have a packet or, therefore, a barcode. As it happens, that particular conundrum was almost very simple to overcome because, if you can’t scan a bakery item itself, you can simply scan its specific shelf-mounted barcode instead, right? Well, usually, yes. But, in this case, you can’t do it. And that’s because our prototype store (along with thousands of other stores across the UK) uses short-cut picture-based ‘quick codes’ at the cashier for certain items which look like barcodes but aren’t. Goddammit. We’ve figured out (some rather sophisticated) solutions for all of these challenges and we’ve filed for Patent Protection too because we’re genuinely working things out here that have never been done before. It’s amazing that something which can make or break an app, and takes approximately three seconds in store, can take the world’s finest System Architects weeks and weeks to code.

Other problems we came across include (but are in no way limited to) loose fruits, temporary special offers, multi-buy deals and how to ensure every Ubamarket user benefits from Automatic Loyalty™. That’s right, Ubamarket means you’ll never have to dig around in your bag or wallet for a loyalty card, ever again. It’s revolutionary and it’s so easy. And for that reason alone, these unique and groundbreaking features were bloody difficult to create! The key to a great app relies upon just one thing: simplicity. If it’s simple to use and it makes your life easier then it’ll work. If it isn’t then it won’t. The user experience is everything.

This is a blog from Will Broome, Founder & CEO, Ubamarket Ltd.

It’s Alive! Ubamarket Officially Rolls Out In-Store

This week has been a big one for Ubamarket. While we may have revealed our beautiful new retail app to the world last month, prompting a flurry of fantastic pieces of media coverage, it was only this Monday that saw Ubamarket officially roll out in-store. In the rather idyllic setting of Moreton-in-Marsh in the Cotswolds there resides a Warner’s Budgens store where lucky shoppers can now enjoy the plethora of benefits that Ubamarket has to offer.

img_5708-2To remind you of how it all works: download the iOS app (for free) and type in your shopping list – the minute you enter the Budgens supermarket your list will be rearranged into the order your items are located on the shelves, making the shopping experience quicker and far less stressful. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg; as you walk around the store you can scan each item on your list using your smartphone, tracking how much you’ve spent and making it easier to monitor your budget. Not only that but you don’t have to re-scan every item at the end of your shop, so there’s no need to wait around in mile-long checkout queues. Throw in Automatic LoyaltyTM, which means that loyalty points are automatically amassed as you shop (the clue’s in the name), and you’ve got a whole new way to buy food!

The launch of the product in-store is a huge step for Ubamarket, following years of innovative development work by Will Broome, the Founder and CEO of the app, as well as DMI, a global leader in end-to-end mobility solutions, and HTEC, a leading developer and supplier of payment and loyalty solutions.

img_5706But this is just the first stage of a long journey – the retail revolution has just begun! Over the coming weeks, months and years you can expect to see Ubamarket pop up in supermarkets and convenience stores across the UK and beyond. Needless to say, we will be updating you every step of the way.

What Kind of Stores would Ubamarket Suit?

This is a blog from Will Broome, Founder & CEO, Ubamarket Ltd.

Ubamarket is an uber-useful and fantastically simple retail app which helps supermarket customers shop faster, and smarter. It puts the power back into the hands of the consumer and promises to breathe life back into the high street. After all, 71% of Brits who buy food online have stated they are frustrated by the experience, so there remains a great opportunity for good, old fashioned bricks-and-mortar shops to win over new customers.

From a store’s perspective, Ubamarket  is important because it eases and enhances their customers’ experience and, as a result, breeds loyalty. With its very low installation cost, easy upkeep and minimal ongoing license fees, Ubamarket  is available to almost any store, anywhere in the world. The convenience market is perfect for Ubamarket as it offers a unique opportunity for these shops to differentiate themselves from their competitors, enabling smaller stores to fight for their position in an eco-system that is largely dominated by the ‘big four’ supermarkets.

On the other hand, as the market continues to rapidly move towards regular convenience shops as opposed to large weekly shops, the big supermarkets could use Ubamarket  to arrest this decline and turn things back around. This is because, as our own independent study revealed, the biggest gripes people have about supermarket shopping is that there are long queues (cited as an issue by 35% of the 2,000 UK adults surveyed) and it is a struggle to find items (15%). Ubamarket empowers the retailer to tackle these problems head on.

Crucially though, it’s not all about the grocery market. Ubamarket makes the in-store experience faster, more efficient, better value, more productive, and hassle free!  Wholesalers such as Costco, for example, would benefit enormously, as would large hardware stores like B&Q, and furniture stores such as IKEA. This is because navigation, automatic loyalty, real-time personalised offers and instant checkout would turn an often frustrating trip to these giant stores into the perfect hybrid experience, bridging the gap between online and in-store retail, thereby helping to increase sales and customer satisfaction.

Another major strength of Ubamarket is that it will tell you everything you need to know about your customers. The app tracks ‘behaviour patterns’ as opposed to ‘purchase patterns’ for the very first time, meaning you get unparalleled insight into how your customers are shopping in your store! You’ve heard about ‘big data’ but this really is ‘HUGE data’ on every level.

Ubamarket  is designed to span sectors and can be entirely white labelled to your brand if you would like it to be. What’s more, Ubamarket can be integrated quickly and affordably into any store, anywhere in the world.

If you are an independent store, part of a franchise or even a large multi-national retailer then please do come and have a look at Ubamarket  – we’d be delighted to talk to you about how we can work with you to ensure your customer base is fully engaged and supremely loyal!

Ubamarket. Shop Smarter.

This is a blog from Will Broome, Founder & CEO, Ubamarket Ltd.

What are Shoppers’ Biggest Pet Peeves with Food Shopping?

Last week we finally drew the curtain back on our beautiful new report – Reviving Retail 2016. This glossy research paper examined current consumer attitudes towards food shopping both in-store and online. And, in short, it found that shoppers are pretty fed up with the quality of service they are receiving.

Based on an independent survey of 2,000 British adults, the study we commissioned provided some extremely interesting results. As such, we would advise you go and make yourself a cup of tea and read through the report in full – you can download it right here!

But for those who do not have the time or patience to consume the paper in its entirety, let us drill down into some of the key findings. Let’s begin with in-store grocery shopping; first and foremost, of the 2,000 people we asked, 66% of them stated that they were in some way frustrated with the supermarket experience. And here are the biggest pet peeves they had:

  • I have to wait in long queues at the checkout – 35%
  • I find myself buying items I already have or do not need – 19%
  • I find it difficult to track my total spend – 16%
  • I struggle to find the items I want on the shelves quickly and without assistance – 15%

These are things that anyone who has ever stepped foot into a supermarket can relate to. Indeed, it was these very bugbears that inspired Will Broome to create Ubamarket in the first place, as he explains in his blog, here.

Moving onto online food shopping, the survey revealed that of those who buy food online, a massive 71% of them are annoyed with at least one aspect of the shopping experience. Here are the things that frustrated people the most:

  • I am not able to select my own fresh produce – 38%
  • I receive unwanted replacement items – 29%
  • The items I buy are poor quality (bruised, discoloured, misshapen) – 18%
  • I receive the wrong items – 16%

If you, like the overwhelming majority of people in this survey, are frustrated by the food shopping experience, then why not check out Ubamarket and see how we can help!

Ubamarket CEO, Will Broome: How I Got the Idea for Ubamarket

This is a blog from Will Broome, Founder & CEO, Ubamarket Ltd.

Four years ago something dawned on me. I wasn’t the only person in the supermarket with my head buried in my phone, staring at a shopping list that had been texted to me and wondering where to start!

Of course, when I did eventually get started, I embarked upon a journey that would have made an expedition across Middle Earth seem less complicated. Dictated to by my list as if in a trance, I searched item by item, aisle by aisle, until (a long time later) I was left with one item which was simply impossible to find. And I still haven’t found it, by the way. From aisle one to aisle seven, aisle three to aisle nine and then back to aisle one again, because it turns out that the seventeenth thing on my list is located right next to the first thing on my list (who knew!?), my hapless journey continued.

“Wouldn’t it be cool if you walked in and your list was magically in the right order?” I thought to myself, and so Ubamarket was conceived. Right there on aisle nine.

Over the ensuing four years, I have developed the idea dramatically and, on the way, I have consulted some of the finest technicians, system architects, designers, project managers, coders, developers, supermarket owners, back end system technicians, POS specialists (and some of the worst too, of course) from all over the world. And now I have arrived at the beginning of another journey: the start of the retail revolution.

Ubamarket has evolved on a Darwinian scale (but in fast forward) and the app is poised to become the new way to shop faster and smarter whilst the retailer enjoys greater customer loyalty, so earns more and, instantly, learns more.

Warner’s Budgens in Moreton in Marsh, Gloucestershire, is our prototype partner store and it’s well worth a trip to the beautiful Cotswolds to check it out when we are officially up and running next week. We plan to roll this out across the UK throughout 2016 and, chances are, it’ll be in a store near you soon… watch this space!

This is a blog from Will Broome, Founder & CEO, Ubamarket Ltd.

Reviving Retail 2016: New Ubamarket Study Reveals the True Plight of UK Food Retail

The world of retail has changed; consumers have become more discerning and more demanding, with technology now playing an increasingly important role in the way we shop. A study at the end of last year revealed that 97% of British shoppers take their smartphone with them as they peruse the stores, while 85% of smartphone owners in the UK are using retail apps. When you throw in the advances of online shopping, it’s easy to see why the way consumers engage with and buy goods has changed irrevocably over the past decade.

But in the food retail industry, are supermarkets keeping up with the changing demands of consumers and delivering a level of service that satisfies shoppers? That’s exactly what Ubamarket wanted to find out – so we commissioned an independent survey of over 2,000 UK consumers to explore what they thought about the food buying experience, both in supermarkets and online. The results, which are today published in our new report ‘Reviving Retail 2016’, were remarkable:

  • 66% of Britons said they were dissatisfied with the in-store supermarket shopping experience – equating to 33.6 million frustrated shoppers across the country
  • The main frustrations among supermarket shoppers were long queues (cited by 35% of Britons) and struggling to find items (15%)
  • Meanwhile, 71% of the UK’s online food shoppers are unhappy with the quality of service they receive – not being able to select produce (38%) and receiving unwanted replacement items (29%) were the main frustrations
  • The result is that 27% of respondents – equating to 12.4 million people in the UK – said they have reduced the frequency with which they visit the supermarket or buy food online
  • 30% of Britons said grocery shopping is one of the most inconvenient things they have to do each week, while 28% said it was their least favourite shopping experience

Read the full Reviving Retail 2016 report here

With over a quarter of shoppers cutting down the frequency with which they buy food, supermarkets must act fast to keep consumers satisfied and coming back for more. Indeed, the findings are even more important as they come hot on the heels of new data from market researchers Kantar Worldpanel, which revealed that all four of the UK’s ‘big four’ supermarkets saw sales decrease in the 12 weeks to 14 August 2016. The message is clear: the times are changing and food retailers have to keep up!

So what’s the answer? Well, in the survey Britons were asked if they would embrace a solution that combines the benefits of in-store and online food shopping – a resounding 69% said yes. This figure increases further to 82% among shoppers aged 18-34.

Enter Ubamarket.

The Ubamarket app brings together the benefits of in-store supermarket shopping – such as being able to select your own items and browse the shelves – with the convenience and efficiency of online food shopping. By making the trip to the supermarket a breeze and encouraging footfall in-store, Ubamarket empowers both the shopper and the retailer by promising to change the face of food shopping forever.

Read the full Reviving Retail 2016 report here

Tackling the Challenge of Shoplifting – How Ubamarket will Improve In-Store Security

This is a blog from Will Broome, Founder & CEO, Ubamarket Ltd.

Unfortunately, shoplifting is nothing new in the world of retail, and with the implementation of self-scan checkouts in supermarkets, additional challenges have arisen as retailers have relied on the honesty of the consumer. Recent research from Statistic Brain found that there has been a 20% increase in theft using self-scan tills. Furthermore, additional research from the University of Leicester – which thoroughly audited 1 million shopping trips – found that 6 million items in the study were individually scanned while 850,000 items, equating to 4% of the total value of goods, were shoplifted. This is a major issue for retailers in the supermarket industry and when establishing Ubamarket it was a critical issue that we had to address.

Currently, supermarkets operate a system of ‘security by obscurity’, which generally involves a manual presence from a security guard to perform spot checks at the exit. Retailers also have to rely heavily on CCTV to pinpoint the unscrupulous thieves that drop items in their bags while avoiding the weighing scales at the self-scan checkout. Although stores are already quite savvy when it comes to spotting repeat offenders and moving swiftly to identify then prosecute them, minimising in-store theft is something that definitely needs to be tackled further.

How Ubamarket is Approaching the Security Challenge

To improve the shopping experience and notify the stores of any stock discrepancies, Ubamarket records the consumers’ habits and actions in-store, meaning shoppers leave a detailed ‘digital footprint’ in the supermarket and are therefore far more conspicuous. For privacy reasons, each shopper has an anonymous user ID; however, details can be accessed by the store (for the benefit of the shopper). This is a major breakthrough for in-store security, as Ubamarket’s behavioural mapping and receipt tracking will make it far easier to pinpoint any missing or unpaid stock items and align it with anyone that has been in that aisle or section at a particular time. The deterrent alone of knowing your actions in-store are tracked is significant to a thief and Ubamarket makes this very clear to all of our users from the outset.

Furthermore, Ubamarket shoppers are less likely to make a mistake than with a self-checkout station, as they’ll clearly see what’s been scanned on their list and will be alerted if they try to checkout prematurely. Shoppers will be unable to check-out unless every item on their ‘checkout list’ has been successfully scanned. Receipts are automatically logged on your phone and all scanned items are highlighted in green, making it clear if a payment has not been made and thereby helping to eradicate accidental theft. The only way to circumnavigate this system would be to not add the stolen item to your list in the first place, thus defeating the object of using Ubamarket to plan your journey around the store. By omitting items from your list you will also miss out on savings as the more products on your list, the greater deals you’ll receive thanks to Automatic LoyaltyTM, which is integrated in the app – this acts as a further disincentive for thieves.

Exacerbated by the implementation of self-checkout tills, theft is a major problem in all supermarkets, to such an extent that many stores already add a contingency in their budgets for shoplifting. Therefore, a further argument that some progressive retailers have made is that the savings of using self-checkout outweighs any theft-related losses by reducing operational costs. Furthermore, the cost to install a single average-priced self-checkout machine is about the same as an entire license fee to integrate the Ubamarket system, so the savings with Ubamarket are far greater. However, we firmly believe that a streamlined operation can co-exist with a crime free one too.

Practice Makes Progress

One day, in the not too distant future, Ubamarket and self-scan apps will be mainstream practice – consumers and retailers just need a little time to adjust, as with all innovative new technologies. After all, there was a time when we were terrified to put our card details into a budget airline’s website and now we wouldn’t dream of booking a flight any other way. We cannot eradicate all shoplifting and we are by no means promising to reinvent the wheel when it comes to in-store security; however, what we can do is work alongside retailers to support their current infrastructure.

With behavioural mapping; receipt tracking; the inability to check-out without scanning your full list; and user-registered purchasing data which can be accessed by the store owners and requested by the authorities; the app does not increase the threat of shoplifting. Instead, these technological advantages enable Ubamarket-ready retailers to manage security more efficiently as well as give shoppers every reason to be more honest! We can’t stop the odd individual from trying to slip out of the store with something concealed on their person, but what we can do is let you know who they are as a bolt-on to current security systems.

This is a blog from Will Broome, Founder & CEO, Ubamarket Ltd.