The Flagship workforce with their Very best Stand Award at On the net Retailer. Resource: supplied

Siblings can depart large footsteps for us to comply with in, and in the situation of Simon Molnar — the brother of Afterpay’s Nick Molnar — ‘big footsteps’ is placing it flippantly.

But Simon is lacing up his footwear and getting huge strides in the very best way possible: with Flagship, a startup of his own.

Flagship is a retail-centered tech organization, searching to provide brick-and-mortar retail into the electronic earth by assisting in-human being stores access the exact same information, insights and recommendations that e-commerce gamers can, this kind of as item sights, conversion premiums, and inventory ranges.

In an exclusive chat with SmartCompany at past week’s On-line Retailer’s convention, Simon stated the idea came to him when doing work with Venroy as a advisor for its digital web site.

“I begun inquiring issues they could not response,” he explained.

“And the more I thought about it when I spoke to other retailers, the extra I realised that this wasn’t special.”

This consistency throughout the marketplace “didn’t sit well” with Simon, with bricks-and-mortar sales driving a minimum amount of 70% of the revenue for quite a few of the vendors he was talking to.

Simon has generally worked in retail, so the realisation that all of these players in the market place experienced an avenue where they experienced “absolutely no plan what’s likely on aside from selling” in comparison to their e-commerce counterparts was how the strategy of Flagship started off brewing.

“The target was: how do we provide more of that e-commerce globe into brick-and-mortar the visibility, the data details, the manage?” Simon spelled out.

“How do we deliver that into this entire world and give more visibility into what’s going on right before the product truly sells?”

On screen at Flagship’s On line Retailer exhibition stand — which gained the 2022 Finest Stand Award at the celebration — the workforce shown how the notion will work: a tag is hooked up to each individual product of clothing and, when moved throughout the retail outlet, sensors decide up its spot, letting for the monitoring of their whereabouts and use in real-time.

This knowledge can then show when an item has been tried using on and subsequently acquired, which items have been still left in the alter rooms, and how a great deal stock of a specific item continues to be.

In a post-pandemic entire world, Simon admits men and women often problem why he would choose to make know-how for bricks-and-mortar retail.

But he acknowledges there is “always been a electric power battle concerning online and offline”, and that these kinds of a disparity is actually getting to be extra evident put up-pandemic, not a lot less.

“A good deal of people phone us disruptive know-how,” Simon reported.

“I never like to contact us disruptive since we’re not disrupting any individual. We’re coming into a place that has not existed prior to.

“And all we’re in the end trying to do is make improvements to performance, boost procedures, and help you save stores value by not having to devote too a great deal on manpower.”

Brother in arms

Getting the likes of Nick Molnar on your side whilst you make a startup is very likely what a whole lot of founders desire for, and Simon does not shy away from performing with his brother as he builds Flagship.

In actuality he usually goes to Nick to sense test suggestions and focus on technique, and tells SmartCompany that Nick functions as fairly of an exterior advisor to the small business.

The relationship also aided Flagship with its early-stage funding, as a ton of Afterpay’s early investors backed Flagship, also.

This funding helped construct the technological know-how again in Oct 2020 — suitable in the depths of the pandemic — but Simon points out the initially actual ‘launch’ of the hardware was during Afterpay’s Edit Collection previous Oct.

Back again then, Flagship’s tags have been even now in their initially iteration: battery run illusory beacons, which served “prove the concept”, Simon suggests.

However the battery-operated tags demonstrated some flaws: largely, the hazard of likely flat.

Now the tags are totally battery-considerably less and attract electrical power from sensors around the retail store, earning it a far more sustainable, environmentally-helpful and functional model.

But Simon’s brother is not the only family members member helping with Flagship’s expansion: the crew of seven are currently functioning out of Simon and Nick’s parent’s basement in Sydney.

And while Simon and the staff appreciate remaining there — primarily when his mum delivers cookies down for every person — with expansion programs in sight, he recognises Flagship simply cannot perform from his mothers and fathers basement permanently. 

At the second, Flagship’s concentration is on clothing where there is a “clear line to purchase”, but he’s not shying away from servicing other retail sectors in the potential. 

So whilst we can not expect to see Flagship tags on every single products in Bunnings upcoming week, Simon nevertheless has bold designs for the following few many years — most prominently to carry this technological know-how on the net as perfectly as in-shop, allowing for retailers to entry the complete assortment of facts all by Flagship’s AI. 

“Right now we’re concentrating just on bricks-and-mortar, but the goal is to blur the line.” 


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