Monday, 2024 June 17

WhereIsWhere interview: How a S’pore startup looks to revolutionize physical channels via its location-based marketing platform

In a world where the internet has been notoriously known to have disrupted traditional businesses, Terence Mak, the founder and CEO of WhereIsWhere, is at it again, looking to shake up the retail market.

As a serial entrepreneur with a passion for fresh challenges to change and make the world a better place, he founded a Singapore-based startup, WhereIsWhere, to buck the e-commerce trend, changing the whole paradigm of thinking that brick-and-mortar shops are a thing of the past.

WhereIsWhere’s location-based marketing tool is how he intends to blend technology with the brick-and-mortar model to change how the traditional stores would sell themselves, levelling the playing field and offering an out-of-the-box channel to grow their revenue.


How did the name ‘’WhereIsWhere” come about?

This app provides the ability for merchants to tell people, ‘’Hey, I am very near you, why not come check us out?’’. They can let consumers around the vicinity of their locations know of their latest promotions, campaigns and events, transforming the way how brick-and-mortar stores traditionally run.

It also doubles as a discovery app for consumers to know all that’re around them. People can find out things like where to go for a massage, where to go for wine tasting, where to eat and even the nearest cinema to catch a movie, at a given location.

Hence, the app is aptly coined as ‘’WhereIsWhere’’ to let people know where exactly they are and what else can they do while concurrently serving as a tool for merchants to ‘market’ to prospective customers.


The revolutionary aspects of this location-based discovery app

WhereIsWhere is the first app platform that’s designed specifically for the ‘left behind players’ in the retail industry – brick-and-mortar stores.

The founder of WhereIsWhere and his team have solved an often unasked question – what does a brick-and-mortar store really mean and what do they need.

He mentioned that the brick-and-mortar model will never be the same as a pure e-commerce online store which is all about the ‘cheaper’ alternative. The former is about providing a value-added experience for customers in the here and now as opposed to the brutal ‘price-war’ in the e-commerce sector.

To exemplify his verdict, Terence shared about his experience purchasing an Italian blazer from Italy. While it looked beautiful on the mannequin, it didn’t fit him when it got shipped to him in Singapore, highlighting a product differentiating element that tailor-made shops can offer as compared to just a ‘product’ one can buy online.

He also talked about how drinking in a bar with music and scenic views is different from sipping wine at home, showing once again that the brick-and-mortar store experience cannot be just based on price alone.

Brick-and-mortar stores need to come up with innovative price differentiating services, such as a posh and high-class experience and a bespoke tailor service, rather than play the ‘price game’, to bring in the crowds.

The other concern for brick-and-mortar stores would be how to lower their operating costs.

They can also experiment with various ideas to differentiate their services by subscribing for unlimited access to market their services on WhereIsWhere app.

WhereIsWhere offers a fixed-priced monthly subscription model based on location, to allow these merchants unlimited access to market their services on its platform, unlike the costly fees of the traditional advertising revenue model.

For instance, it would cost a Singapore-based merchant only S$100 a month to have access to unlimited advertising opportunities via their free-to-list platform. The fixed fee will vary across other countries, in accordance to location.

After all, unlike the traditional advertising revenue model which is often termed as a ‘bottomless pit’, the brick-and-mortar merchants’ only concern would be to attract the immediate audiences physically near them.

And when it comes to consumers, they will never get spam with deals and promotions from these merchants. Rather, they can ‘favourite’ their preferred merchants, to receive latest updates whenever they are nearby.

Perhaps an important element of this app could be – a steak lover can be informed immediately of a one-time lunch opportunity nearby, so he can savor the perfect steak when a celebrity chef such as the likes of Scott Conant, Guy Fieri and Michael Symon etc, happens to stop by here in Singapore just for one day.

It can also function as an ‘information app’ when consumers visit unfamiliar parts of the country, displaying the ‘best’ deals and services around. They don’t have to do research or ask around, simply using WhereIsWhere would suffice.


The opportunities and challenges ahead for WhereIsWhere

WhereIsWhere will be launched first here in Singapore, and will also be expanding into the Asia region, including Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan.

The challenge then will be to find partners, especially in foreign regions, to educate, help and change the retail landscape.

In Singapore, they have enjoyed a very receptive welcome from traditional retail players such as hair and beauty chain, Jean Yip, F&B outlets – Sushi Express and Old Chang Kee and major shopping malls including Millenia Walk and I12 Katong and will be launching real soon.

However, no particular date was confirmed.

Terence believes in being laser focused to do well in a particular niche at a time. WhereIsWhere will be aiming to perfect their location-based technology to partner merchants and offer a seamless experience wherever their users go.

Editor: Ben Jiang


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