Bridging the gap between online and bricks and mortar retail lets chat with Elephanti CEO Lalin Jinasena

Lalin Jinasena

10 Sep Elephanti launches in Singapore

Lalin Jinasena

19 Oct Elephanti takes on Foursquare with pay-per-check-in app for merchants

Many retailers in 2013 still do not have an online presence. With over 1.08 Billion Smartphones being used worldwide and 89% of users using their Smartphones throughout the day. Using their phones for internet browsing 84% of the time, Social Networking sites 59% of the time and downloading APPS 69% of the time. Many will not buy online but get all the information they need before they go out shopping. Most of the time the consumer is better educated about the product than the salesperson.

Lalin Jinasena could see a business opportunity and that was to bridge the gap between online browsing and getting the consumer into the store. His hard work has  paid off with the launching of  Elephanti, which is a free  APP that connects the consumer to stores, restaurants and services they need.

Retailers can immediately set up an online store front without spending thousands of dollars on Web Design companies. This APP is a great APP for merchants for many reasons; for one retailers can advertise and only need to pay per click if the consumer clicks on the ad. There are many other features lets find out what they are.

What is the story behind Elephanti?

I come from a background of foreign businesses; such as hospitality, restaurants, cafes, hotels and retail stores. I have found that there is a difference between how we connect and engage customers with brick and mortar businesses compared to social media. The outlay of money and activity on social media doesn’t always translate into ‘walk through the door customers’.

For shoppers, the challenge has been finding products online, they are bombarded with a whole bunch of online e-commerce sites that may or may not have what the consumer wants. The consumer must do what they have done for hundreds of years; basically going from one store to the next trying to find what they need. Even with current information technology and mobile apps, etc. there was not an easy way to give customers the information they needed to get them into the bricks and mortar store. So this is why we developed Elephanti; to bridge the gap between the online experience and that of getting the customer into the store.

Merchant Profile

How does Elephanti work?

 The business signs up and creates its profile, it’s very easy because the steps are simple.  The key thing is to add their products, and their services.  If they are restaurants, cafes, they can add their menu.  What then happens is when the customer searches for a Black pair of shoes or a different kind of ice-cream the search is done on Elephanti then it searches the merchants catalogues on the APP.  Elaphanti is a unique product which is beneficial to both customers and merchants  because it helps customers find specifically what they want, and it helps merchants to target the consumers coming into their stores who are specifically interested in what they have.

How easy is it for merchants to make updates?

Well, it’s very easy currently; we are doing it for them. The business sends their product list in an excel sheet or relevant format and we upload it for them to the catalogue. All they have to do after they sign up with Elephanti is to keep the site updated consistently by sending updates of products weekly.

Is there a cost involved for retailers to sign up?

No, It’s absolutely free. Retailers don’t have to pay to sign up to be on Elephanti. And what they gain is virtually a mobile app for their store. Retailers have an APP which allows them to engage with customers and start the consumer experience before they enter the store. Elephanti is especially great for retailers who do not have an online presence; allowing them to build a virtual store with minimal outlay and potentially maximum returns.

Where is it currently being used and how successful has it been?

We launched in San Francisco, New York and Singapore in December and this market has been very successful.  We are now in the proocess of signing up merchants in Bali and Australia. We are experiencing  positive feedback from the retail community. We are very happy with the response.

In Singapore we have a number of brands and merchants who have signed up. They love the way their customers  are now finding their store and checking-in.

Among the other things, we suggest that merchants  offer a discount to these new customers; this means the customer will spend instore rather than online. Elephanti is an advocate for the retail industry saying, “Come back and shop in the brick and mortar store. We will help you to easily find the product and the store that stocked it, without you having to waste time and energy. The Elephanti APP tells you exactly where the product is available and keeps you notified of any other places that may appeal to you that may be nearby.”


How will customers benefit by using Elephanti?

There’s a lot of aspects to the consumer side. One of the other interesting things we have is a customers’ shopping list, so you can add a whole bunch of things to your shopping list and then press one button and then Elephanti basically searches for all items on your list. This is a place where you can find each and every item on your list, making your shopping list  more of an intelligent tool rather than simply being a functional list. It also saves you time while giving you the best route to shop for your purchase items close by. Elephanti is a little bit different from what’s out there and we will need to educate the consumer about how to use this easy way to shop. The App is interactive and it will save the consumer time and money.

 How will retailers benefit from becoming affiliated with Elephanti?

Once the merchant has signed up we then categorise the business, which is very important because that helps us match their business with customers who are interested in their type of business. We bridge that gap, connecting  those two parties.

From the consumer point of view, they are seeing things and stores that interest them and for the retailers that’s important because they are being led to people who are genuinely interested in them.  And those are people who are keen on buying things from the store. To highlight some of the benefits for the retailers, we ask customers to  check-in when they go to store; and in doing so, then the merchants know they are in the store because the merchant basically logs in to their account. So if they are busy in their store, by keeping their app opened (basically the website) they can see who checked-in to their store. They then know in real time, that X number of Elephanti users are in their store right then. They also have access to some information about that person; nothing private, nothing personal. That information is purely store-related, purely to do with their store and purely related to how they rated their store.  What kind of products do they like in my store? What type of brands in my store do they like?  How many times have they been in before? These are all valuable bits of information for merchants to be able to give fantastic customer service.

Thus these are benefits to the retailers. It isn’t simply about signing up and forgetting about it, it’s very attractive. You notice that there are many retail stores, restaurants and cafes, they’re all saying “Like us on Facebook”, “Follow us on Twitter”; very few people do this because Facebook is a personal thing and it’s very connected to your friends, while Twitter is for news and blogging. So that if they follow every bakery, café and retail store, then they will be inundated with too much information on their personal social networks.  On Elephanti that retail store can actually connect their Facebook and Twitter so whenever you look up that store profile you can also see that store’s Facebook and that store’s Twitter, all in one place. So all they have to do is follow the store on Elephanti; that’s it. Retailers can then stay connected to their customers.

 Is there a tool in Elephanti for retailers to speak to their clients like speaking on Facebook?

 Yes, in a sense whatever the merchant does on Elephanti, such as posting new products they have to offer, or the merchant’s store events, the consumers can find on Elephanti; following them and making updates. They can switch on notifications so if they are following that store they always know what’s happening in that store.

This is also a great way to notify customers when they are out shopping for any special offers, places of interest or discounts. Facebook is not in real time so it cannot work as effectively as a shopping tool. Elephanti is a lifestyle product. 

If you’re overseas and  have no idea where to shop, Elephanti tell you where to go, in a sense?

That’s the beautiful thing about Elephanti; it knows you. It knows you are away from home. It knows your interests. It knows the type of stores you like.  So when you go to a new city it will show you places of interest in that city that you might prefer, and that’s invaluable to tourists  because you may get lost in a new place. Tourist groups often times don’t know the best places for shopping.

If you want more information or would like to sign up go to:

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Thursday August 8, 2013 at 7:00 am ⋅ admin
Filed under : Archives, Latest News, Technology

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