A chat with Michael Langguth, Cofounder of Poq

Michael Langguth, Cofounder of Poq, image credit: Misha Terrett

We spoke to Michael Langguth, co-founder of Poq (as described on their website “rocket fuel for retail”) at Heron Tower, London.

Our favourite first question: how could you explain what Poq does in a way our grandmother could understand? Michael explains they “help retailers to engage with customers on their smartphone, allowing them to shop, and use their loyalty card via the app.” He adds for those with a bit more understanding of tech than our grandmothers: “We are a cloud platform for large retailers to deploy and maintain mobile apps on scale.”

What’s next in technology retail trends?

I ask Michael what he thinks is next in retail technology trends. “Bridging the gap that still exists between the online-store and instore experience, by doing things like adding loyalty systems to mobile app, allowing consumers to get the rich content they get online, such as product reviews or styling tips, and getting that information inside the store.  For the retailer, it has the advantage that they see the customer view of what they do online and also instore, thereby merging those two experiences from the customer side and from the retailers side.”

Poq’s collaborations with House of Fraser and Boohoo

Most recently Poq have collaborated with retailers House of Fraser and Boohoo, two very different experiences.

House of Fraser, founded in 1879, is a very longstanding multichannel retailer with a successful online store and an even more successful large network of department stores in the UK. For House of Fraser the main part of the business is still inside of the store. The Poq app was launched to encourage multi-channel shopping. It stores loyalty information and enables customers to scan products for more information.

Boohoo, in contrast, is a very fast growing online retailer, but is actually the same size as House of Fraser online. So, although they come from very different angles, the two retailers have very similar needs. That is engaging consumers with the device which is most personal to the consumer – their smartphone (Michael points out that I am using my smartphone for the interview rather than a recording device!).

Offline vs Online retail?

When asked about the instore retail industry vs the online retail industry, Michael says that he doesn’t like the description of anything being offline because it doesn’t exist in our world. “For example, if you live in Central London, the only time you are offline is when you are on the tube. That’s it, otherwise you’re always online, you’re always connected on your smartphone. The main paradigm shift of what’s changing in retail – which is going to be bigger than the change e-commerce has bought to retail – is the fact that consumers are always online.  That means they are always interacting or potentially interacting with your brand, and you want to give them the best possible experience on the device they are online with – their smartphone.”

The importance of mobile for retailers

Finally, he goes on to say how important using mobile technology is for retailers.  I’m not really surprised when Michael says he doesn’t have a laptop – he uses a laptop at work, and leaves it there. He believes most young people do not have a laptop at home and that’s an important trend for a retailer he explains, “you could spend thousands on a website and we’ll get to a point when websites will be useless because nobody will use a laptop at home to use your website.” He predicts this could be as soon as the next five years.

Mobile technology will enable consumers needs to be met in real time. For example, there are opportunities to deliver customers products to them wherever they are, not where they will be later, because they are sharing their location with you.

And that’s the key retail trend I took away from speaking to Michael about Poq: mobile is an amazing opportunity for retailers to really engage with their customers and listen to what their customers want.