Reviving retail with the app economy: Ubamarket

Long queues and disorganised stores put off thousands of potential consumers, who are steadily ditching supermarkets for online equivalents. We catch up with Will Broome, CEO and founder of Ubamarket, a retail app that lets users get the best of the real-world shopping experience, while bypassing checkout lines

Once, shopping was a national pastime. UK’s high streets were thriving, retailers were beaming, and consumers got their daily exercise from circling the best deals.

The convenience and ease of online shopping, however, may have overshadowed the real-world retail experience, but this London start-up is bridging the online-offline shopping experience: simply put, there’s an app for that, and it’s called Ubamarket.

The app places consumers at the centre of the transaction. Users simply type in their shopping list into the Ubamarket app, enter the supermarket of their choice, and the app does the rest, rearrange the shopping list as the items are located in store for ease of access.

The app’s scanner lets users input item barcodes as they shop, keeping track of their spending. At the end of their shopping experience, users  can bypass long queues, by tapping their smartphone on a payment point, and walk out with their purchases in hand.

In a study of over 2,000 UK consumers, Ubamarket revealed two in three Britons were dissatisfied with the in-store supermarket shopping experience. The main frustrations among supermarket shoppers were long queues and the difficulty in finding items in shops.

While online grocery shopping makes sourcing produce easy and instant, 71 per cent of online food shoppers are unhappy with the quality of service they receive, put off by not being able to select produce and receiving unwanted replacement items on delivery.

According to Will Broome, CEO and founder of this retail app, the food buying experience as it currently stands is driving away consumers used to the immediacy and convenience of online retail. He speaks to GrowthBusiness about how his idea grew into the start-up it is today, and what lies ahead in the highly competitive world of retail tech.

Name of entrepreneur(s): Will Broome
Location: London/Cotswolds
Date launched: September 2016

What does your business do?

Ubamarket is a revolutionary new shopping app. Simply enter your shopping list into your smartphone and it will be rearranged into the order the items are displayed in the store. Scan items as you shop, receive real-time personalised offers and check out without queuing. It’s that simple.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

From navigating supermarkets with a shopping list that had been texted to me. After noticing everyone else doing exactly the same thing, I thought “Wouldn’t it be cool if you walked in and your list was magically in the right order?” and Ubamarket was conceived!

How did you know there was a market for it?

Initially from personal experience and interviewing over 100 shoppers as I developed the concept. Subsequently, we commissioned a national survey and published our ‘Reviving Retail Report 2016’, which clearly demonstrates that there is a need for Ubamarket. Based on a survey of over 2,000 British consumers, the research found that 66 per cent of shoppers are frustrated with the in-store experience, whilst 71 per cent of online shoppers aren’t satisfied with the service they get when buying food over the internet. We also asked them what their biggest peeves were in-store and 35 per cent cited long-queues, with 15 per cent saying that they were annoyed by not being able to find what they needed without help from shop assistants.

How did you raise funding, and why?

We raised SEIS and EIS seed funding via private equity. This funding has enabled us to build and develop the concept as well as file a patent and cover all the start-up costs. We have now launched the product to market in our prototype store, Warner’s Budgens.

Describe your business model in brief.

Ubamarket puts the consumer in control of their own shopping experience making their visit to the supermarket quicker, easier, more efficient, more personalised and therefore better value. The supermarket benefits from increased loyalty, more targeted and relevant customer offers, 100 per cent loyalty uptake (as it incorporates the store’s loyalty system)and big data analysis the likes of which have never been available before. Participating stores will pay a nominal set-up fee and an annual license fee, which is an affordable way to offer a more sophisticated in-store retail experience to their customers.

What was your first big milestone and when did you cross it?

Typing my shopping list into my iPhone and instantly being told where everything is! This happened months ago and we’ve been testing and fine-tuning the app for launch ever since.

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

The best idea in the world is still only 1 per cent of the task in hand. Failure is better than regret so bite the bullet and make it happen, right now!

Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

I want Ubamarket tobe the industry standard in-store app and promotional tool for convenience stores and medium-sized retailers around the world. We have interest in the UK, US and India already so we’ve really captured people’s imagination with our concept and the app’s fantastic user experience. In five years, I would like to be in several thousand stores.

If you weren’t an entrepreneur, you would be…

Someone who wished I was an entrepreneur regretting not having the balls to be one! Or a rock star.

What is your philosophy on business or life, in a nutshell?

In life, there are those who think they can and those who think they can’t and both are usually right. My overriding philosophy is that failure is better than regret so if you are hard working and totally driven, you’ll either succeed or be too busy to realise you haven’t. Opportunity often eludes people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks too much like hard work!

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for from 2016 to 2018.

Related Topics

App Economy