StreetSpotr : An Interview with UK MD Robin Shuker

StreetSpotr : An Interview with UK MD Robin Shuker


 In this weeks blog post we sit down and chat to the head honcho at StreetSpotr in the UK to find out all about this money making app.

What exactly is Streetspotr?

Streetspotr is a new research methodology that utilises crowdsourcing and a mobile app to deliver ‘in the moment” customer feedback. It offers a free download (on Android or iPhones) that enables people to sign up and join our mobile community. They will be invited to undertake mystery shopping tasks in their local area (using their smart phones) and get rewarded in cash through PayPal.

Can you tell us about just how dominant the Company is in the rest of Europe?

As Europe’s first mover in location-based crowdsourcing we have had the advantage of having built both our technology and community before our European competitors evolved. Germany is our home market and also a very important one regarding strategic and international plans, so we’ve concentrated on building the business in the German-speaking markets first. Within the last three years we have gained more than 290,000 registered Spotrs there, which gives us confidence to know that we’re now ready to expand our proven business model to other markets. We’ve integrated Eastern European countries like Poland in October and will continue our European expansion with real drive next year.

What made you decide to launch in the UK and what roadblocks have you come up against that maybe you weren’t expecting?

The UK is one of the largest and most significant research markets in the world, not only for the domestic business but also international projects coordinated from London. A number of our international competitors have tried to gain a foothold in the UK and failed to become established. What doesn’t work (and our competitors have proved this) is trying to become established in the UK without a dedicated and physical business unit based in London. We haven’t had this in the past and that proved to be a major roadblock, a barrier we have overcome by establishing a team based in the UK, with highly efficient project management and tech support services based in Germany.

Our observation would be that the major roadblock our competitors failed to overcome was gaining the confidence of major clients in the UK. We have the advantage of having a team of experienced researchers in the UK, supported by proven expertise and case studies from Germany. So lack of client interest and confidence is not a roadblock we have encountered, quite the reverse. The biggest challenge is actually getting through to potential clients: identifying the key decision makers and making contact. When they experience the product demo the benefits speak for themselves and the conversation quickly focuses on potential applications.

What is it you feel makes you different to the likes or Roamler / Clic & Walk and the VERY dominant Field Agent over here in the UK?

A number of things make us different. The most obvious is our commitment to the UK and physical presence in London, which immediately differentiates us from the majority of our competitors. We also believe it’s important to offer clients strategic consultancy so we work closely together (with clients) to explore how they can get the most benefit from this new methodology. We also know from our considerable experience in Germany what works and what doesn’t work, so we make sure clients focus on activities that are ideal for the Streetspotr methodology. For sure our lead product is mystery shopping but we also recognise the broader opportunities for conducting “in the moment” research using our mobile panel of Spotrs. We believe this will be an increasingly important point of difference as the sector matures.

Overall we believe a key point of difference is our ability to provide clients with cost effective strategic research consultancy, recognising clients want to buy more than “fieldwork” and that the model has to be flexible to work in a way that suits each individual client and their service model.

Do you find there is much difficulty convincing clients to sign up to your services?

No the initial response has been outstanding, at the initial meeting with the discussion has quickly turned into an enthusiastic exchange of ideas on how they can best use the Streetspotr application. They are quick to appreciate the tremendous cost savings that can be achieved with Streetspotr versus a traditional approach and also the speed at which we can deliver national coverage.

What plans to you have to keep workers engaged with the app when there may not be any paid work available?

We plan to keep a steady flow of paid work coming through to Spotrs and also support this with various fun activities and competitions that will keep people engaged. We are also exploring how we can support charities, following the example from Germany where we worked with NGO’s like wheelmap.org, (an online map for wheelchair-accessible places. Our German Spotrs have collected 28,000 photos of wheelchair-accessible restaurants and bars for free for the Wheelmap this summer.)There’s loads of data important to all of us, which our Spotrs can collect and provide as a common good. We’ve integrated gamification elements like badges, StreetPoints and a ranking list has been running since we started in mid-2011 to ensure the fun and a “treasure hunt” experience keeps our Spotrs engaged.

Do you feel the UK App Audit market is getting a bit too overcrowded at all with yourselves / Field Agent / Clic & Walk / Roamler / Streetbees / iPoll etc or do you feel there is more than enough slice of the cake to go around?

I don’t think the UK market is becoming overcrowded, I think it’s quite healthy that there are a number of players seeking to introduce this new methodology and therefore grow the sector. The traditional mystery shopping agencies and field-force providers are under serious threat and I think there is more than enough business potential to offer the new players significant opportunities. The only potential danger is that the competition degenerates into a price war and then nobody benefits, not even the clients as ultimately the model will not be sustainable and the service delivery will suffer.

Where do you see this very new sector of market research going over the next 2 years?

We believe there is tremendous potential in the application of crowdsourcing and mobile technology in all sorts of research applications, mystery shopping just happens to be the first. Over the next two years businesses that have built a strong mobile panel of consumers will be able to utilise this in a number of different ways capturing “in the moment” research, enabling brands to get a better understanding of consumers attitudes and behaviour at point purchase. Something every client wants to know.

Can you talk us through how you connect with clients? Do they approach you or are you pitching the service to them? Is it a hard sell? How do things like quality and price get decided on?

Obviously we have international connections from our experience in Germany, which has been a great way to get started. The UK team also have a number of established contacts in the research business, which has given us some great initial opportunities. We are not yet well known enough for clients to approach us so we’ve put in place a rigorous business development programme. We have a simple and very transparent pricing model. The quality of our service is based on the procedures we have established in Germany over a number of years with stringent quality control procedures (e.g. every Spot is manually checked before it is accepted) And the UK team are research professionals totally committed to delivering a quality product to their clients.

What is it you feel apps like StreetSpotr offer compared to the more, shall we say, traditional way of conducing Mystery Shopping from the clients perspective?

The two most obvious benefits are savings in cost and time. Typically we can complete mystery-shopping tasks at less than half the price of traditional methods and as we have demonstrated in Germany with 290,000 Spotrs we can provide national coverage much faster than traditional methods.

What exciting PAID tasks do you have coming up on StreetSpotr over the next few weeks/months?

We’ve got some really exciting Spots right now, e.g. HMV which require Spotrs to go into a store and report on the experience, a new campaign for Muffin Break, which pays Spotrs to go and have a free coffee. And we’ve just launched an exciting task that requires Spotrs to go to their local pub! Not a bad way to spend the Christmas holidays.

 

If you want to get involved with StreetSpotr then you can download the Apple version here and the Android version here.

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