preezie is on a mission to bring the in-store shopping experience online.
It’s something retailers have overlooked in the past 10 to 15 years in the rush to make their product inventory available on the internet, according to the company’s CEO and co-founder, Michael Tutek.
“They got online so fast that the real, one-to-one experience took a back seat. It’s all too common that retailers see people just as users and numbers, so we want to change that thought logic,” Tutek says.
“Every single shopper that’s on your site is a real person. They have their own traits, their own concerns, their own motivation, and their own needs, wants and desires. And if you think of each shopper – each single digit on your user analytics – as an individual person and put yourself in their shoes, then you can create a world-class experience.”
Established in 2017, preezie describes itself as the world’s first retail experience platform. The platform’s name is a play on the words ‘products made easy’. It empowers online shoppers to effortlessly find what they’re looking for by taking them on a journey of discovery, learning about their interests and needs, and providing accurate recommendations based on their responses.
The platform also allows retailers to provide the in-store experience online through triggered pop-ups that offer assistance and more direction for shoppers who might leave their store.
In turn, this individualised and humanised shopping experience helps brands and retailers increase their revenue and conversion rates, capture more emails, reduce product returns, gain consumer insights and even survive the death of third-party cookies.
“For example, you might go on JB Hi-Fi’s website to look for a TV, but you’re not sure which one to look at. There are over 300 on there, and you can use preezie to help you navigate that range,” Tutek says.
“Once you’ve found the right product or the right fit, then you move on to the next phase, which is checkout.”
Riding the COVID-19 tailwind
preezie was accepted into Skalata Ventures’ support program in 2019. The program helps companies grow their customer base and prepare to scale. So, by the time the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Melbourne-based start-up was already well placed to help retailers manage the unexpected boom in online traffic.
“We never really hit our stride until the pandemic hit,” Tutek says. “That’s when we were actually ready to start growing as a business.”
And grow it did.
preezie’s revenue increased by a whopping 500 per cent in the past financial year alone, and the platform now serves just under 1 million shoppers per month. It also has more than 100 retail partners globally across verticals including fashion, beauty, home living, jewellery, and sports and hobbies.
Furthermore, the company recently raised $5.5 million in funding to boost the growth of its product, team, and drive international expansion.
“We currently have 22 people across three countries, and we’re looking to grow to about 40 or 50 over the next 10 months,” Tutek notes.
Powered by the cloud
preezie was built in Microsoft Azure, which has provided plenty of stability, scalability and cost efficiencies, according to Tutek.
“We frequently utilise the autoscaling feature so we can handle and promptly respond to any type of traffic our customers throw at us,” he says. “All our apps in Azure App Service autoscale for busier periods and reduce the cost during quieter times.
“Our back end is on .NET, and Azure aligns well with that. It always supports the latest functions of .NET.
“I’ve also been told by our Head of Technology, Danny Wang, that the technical support from Azure has been fantastic. They are very reliable, proactive and able to pull in the right people for our requirements.”
Tutek says Microsoft helped the company save money in its early days.
“We were accepted into the Microsoft for Startups Founders Hub, so we received about $120,000 of Azure credits over two years,” he says. “And we were also part of the first Microsoft Retail Innovation Club, so Microsoft has been super supportive.”
preezie currently uses several services within Azure, including Azure Storage, Azure App Service, Azure SQL, Azure Service Bus and Azure Functions. The company is also looking to use Azure Front Door, Cosmos DB and the cloud platform’s machine learning capabilities to support its growth plans.
“We see the future [of online retail] being powered by individuality, so we’re using that as the premise for how we will grow,” Tutek says.
“We plan to introduce some machine learning specifically for data analytics, to better understand our customers’ needs and offer better services and recommendations. When that time comes, we’ll definitely be looking at Azure’s machine learning capability, because it just makes a lot of sense.
“And then as we grow, gain more customers and expand in more countries, solutions like Azure Front Door become more essential, because it allows us to scale and grow globally a lot quicker.”