In this second installment of our series introducing you to the New York Fashion Tech Lab 2016 class, we’d like to introduce you to Smartzer. Smartzer is a London based fashion tech startup that makes an interactive video player that is “shoppable, engaging, and interactive.” We spoke with Karoline Gross, Smartzer’s founder and CEO, to learn more about their product.
Video is one of the fastest growing forms of online content, whereas the monetization, engagement and analytics capabilities around this are still in very early stages. Video in general is a passive form of media with solutions around pre-rolls with extremely low engagement and conversion rates. We wanted to create a video player that can innovate in all these areas and allow consumers to access the information they want it.
Smartzer is an interactive video player that allows clicking on anything in a video to instantly see further information or to make a purchase. This is paired with a detailed analytics system to gain an understanding of how consumers interact with video to a level that has previously been unattainable. The ability to see exactly where consumers are clicking, on which products, during which parts of the video provides interesting and valuable insights into how to create even more engaging video content, and which elements of the video players achieve the best interaction and conversion rates for brands. This data is then at the core of our future innovation.
What’s the inspiration behind Smartzer?
The inspiration behind Smartzer came from my previous experience at a video production company, which focused on fashion and travel related content. There was a concept to build a separate website to feature all the details about the content such as the restaurants and hotels that were featured. This then evolved to take it a step further and have the information as part of the video itself for a more seamless experience.
Tell us about your Players and Analytics Dashboard.
Our product has two main elements – the interactive video players and the Analytics Dashboard. The interactive players are used to make it easy to navigate through videos, to explore more details and ultimately shop or sign up for notifications. Every interaction is reflected in the Analytics Dashboard. This includes data for views, clicks, clickthroughs and engagement as well as detailed patterns for how and where different types of clicks are happening. This is then used by our data analytics team to understand what works best and how we can improve the player for even better results for each customer. The data is also used to help brands plan for better video strategies in the future.
How do you differentiate yourself from other companies in the space?
In addition to a different user experience, Smartzer is differentiated with technology and analytics capabilities. Smartzer’s players are fully built in house and customizable for each brand that we work with. The technology behind the players allows us to create and modify interactive videos at a high speed, allowing for a scalable solution. The analytics are both important for the brands we work with for results reporting, as well as for Smartzer internally in order to keep innovating based on the consumer behaviors we observe.
What was your journey to get to New York Fashion Tech Lab Class of 2016?
We applied for the New York Fashion Tech Lab class in last November 2016. I was actually in New York for a meeting at the time and I receive a suggestion to apply. When we found out that we were shortlisted the team was extremely excited. We really wanted to do all we could in order to make it to the program, even though we knew that this would be challenging as our team is based in London. We wanted this because the program was perfectly aligned with the biggest challenge we have – getting access to the right people at the companies that we would wanted to work with.
What has been the hardest obstacle for you in starting Smartzer? What has been your favorite part?
There have been a number of obstacles over time. Initially it was the technology. Whilst seemingly simple, the whole system itself turned out to be a lot more complicated than initially anticipated with integrating the players with our proprietary video tagger and databases with analytics visualization. The most recent challenge has been with sales and being able to speed up sales cycles with large corporations.
Our favorite part has definitely been having some amazing brands use a product that we have built and seeing that Smartzer has a real impact on their business. This is something that lets the whole team see years of work paying off.
What’s next for Smartzer?
We are constantly innovating on the product side with some exciting developments launching soon. We are also looking to set up a more permanent presence in New York over the next 6 months.
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