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SmartShopping (Japan)

About

SmartShopping, Inc. is a startup focused on automation solutions for shopping and stock management. Their main services include online shopping support, such as price comparison and data-driven product recommendations for consumers. Specializing in stock management, their “SmartMat” is an IoT weight scale that provides an automation system for the management of stock and new stock orders.

Challenges

SmartShopping started out as a software company with the aim to develop a purchase automation service for households. Soon they discovered that the data they collected through their software solution was not sufficient for analysis and the intended automation solution. They realized that real-time used stock should be measured, and moved to tackle the challenge to develop an IoT weight scale specializing in stock management. However, their team, coming from a computer science background, had no knowledge of hardware. In the first place, they did not even know how to proceed with the product development, and how to find a company to manufacture their product. They struggled to create a prototype with another company, but the cost per unit turned out to be so high that it was not suited for mass production.

Why Monozukuri Ventures?

SmartShopping’s first contact with Monozukuri Ventures was when they had the opportunity to meet its CEO Narimasa Makino, who became their mentor. The most memorable advice they received was: “In order to succeed as a business, you need to create a hardware prototype for mass manufacturing”. They were delighted to find that Monozukuri Ventures knows the tasks and challenges of a startup well and can support them through the process. SmartShopping grew confident enough to make a prototype suited for mass manufacturing with Monozukuri Ventures.

How?

To make the optimal prototype for mass manufacturing, Monozukuri Ventures introduced SmartShopping to companies which helped create different parts of the prototype, such as companies manufacturing circuit boards, product design companies. As SmartShopping did not know how to find these suppliers by themselves, this was a great help to them. In the end, they were happy with the outcome of the 3-4 companies they work with. Apart from the cost, technical aspects, functional aspects, and the professional advice from the suppliers, they were able to manufacture a prototype that not only took less time than the previous prototype, but also was of a higher quality.

What’s Next?

After testing out the prototype, SmartShopping found that besides a B2C purpose, the “SmartMat” can also be utilized for B2B. Bringing software and hardware together made their business grow fivefold. The quality of the service they offered increased and they gained a competitive advantage over software startups. From now on, they plan to expand to make the “SmartMat” more user-friendly and increase its functionality by analysing current customer data. They have had requests from outside of Japan, so they are thinking of expanding abroad. Additionally, they look to reduce cost and improve design for daily use in households. They aim to further develop their product to aid the elderly in their troubles with shopping.

KYOTO OFFICE

Kyoto Research Park – 93 Chudoji Awata-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi 600-8815

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2910 Thomson Ave, C760, Long Island City, NY 11101