In a globalised world of mega-malls and franchises, high-streets and department stores are looking increasingly the same. However, a new app called Knomi is setting out to connect people with local, independent fashion boutiques that might otherwise pass under your radar. Here, CEO and co-founder Markus Ehrnrooth tells Globetrender how Knomi is changing the way we navigate the real-world urban retail experience.
What is Knomi and why is it innovative?
Knomi is an app that lets you find the best independent, designer fashion boutiques, and even which boutique sells a specific handbag, for example. It launched in 2016.
Most of our end users are high-spending tourists. We are changing the way offline shopping is done by making the process of finding boutiques and products in the offline space easy.
Many boutiques are located off the beaten track and are harder to find – especially for visitors.
Over 90 per cent of luxury purchases are made offline – that is in physical boutiques – and we realised that there was no established platform for convert online research into in-store visits and purchases. We built Knomi to fix this.
How does it work?
Users can search for specific products they wish to purchase and see where they are stocked nearby or use our area guides to find local shopping inspiration.
Knomi users can also plan ahead and add products to their wishlist to receive notifications when they are close to a boutique stocking any of the items. We provide directions, along with the store phone number and address.
Our partner stores all have iBeacons – this means that we can see how many Knomi users visit the stores. In addition, we employ some really cool machine learning methods to make it easy to extract and handle and classify our partner’s product inventory.
Can you make purchases through the app?
Our primary aim is to facilitate and encourage user visits our partner stores for them to purchase there. This said, we do allow users to purchase in the app as well.
How does it change the way locals and visitors can engage with a city?
Shopping is cited as one of the most popular activities for overseas visitors to Britain, with approximately 70 per cent of leisure visits involving retail. We simply make the discovery process easier, for both locals and tourists.
Just like Foursquare makes it easy to find a great café in a new city or a neighbourhood you aren’t familiar with, or OpenTable makes it easy for you to find a free table at a restaurant and book it, Knomi makes it easy to find fashion boutiques and see what they have in store, without having to go there first.
Which cities is it available in?
Knomi is currently available in London, Paris, New York and Madrid.
What are your plans for growth?
Our international growth plans will see us expanding the number of stores and cities globally from 2018. For now, our key focus is on growing and “owning” the London market.
Which brands and boutiques do you partner with?
We have more than 80 luxury brands and boutiques on Knomi such as Vivienne Westwood, Victoria Beckham, Erdem, Emilia Wicksted and Christopher Kane.
Do you have any direct competitors?
There are many general travel and guide apps out there, as well as some really cool fashion apps. But to specifically find the best fashion boutiques, and in what boutique I can find a specific item, we don’t really have any competition.
How many active users do you have?
We have had more than 20,000 downloads.
What is the future of bricks and mortar retail in a world of online shopping?
We firmly believe that there will always be a place for bricks and mortar, particularly in luxury retail. Admittedly there are some really big players in the world of luxury online shopping who are doing a great job, and online will probably keep growing quicker than physical stores for a while.
When it comes to luxury, however, experience is key and the relationship between the customer and the brand and is really important. That is difficult to fully replicate online. Just like face-to face business meetings are not going away just because video conferences are doable, we don’t believe that offline or bricks and mortar retail is disappearing.