Essay: Mining gold through Disruptive Innovation and Primary Data

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Intro: Here’s is a non-technical article on how businesses can leverage data to innovate.

Late 2009, I was working in Shanghai, and part of my job was to source the most innovative technologies and companies in the retail space. is a startup that truely stood out. They started in 2007, and raised another $US10m in 2012 and are fast expanding, their new App aim at “revolutionizing” online shopping. Based on where you live, compare prices of a shopping basket with different retailers. It’s all there: product availability, delivery date and local promotions:

“While you shop, we compare your basket in all the retailers so we can suggest smart swaps and replacements to help you save even more money.”

I’ll let the singing eggs do the explaining:

Thoughts and Implications for

> Now, that’s the perfect definition of transparency of information. Is customer loyalty in retail long gone? At any given time, you are only one click away from shopping at a different retailer. We see it as an evidence for High tech products (laptops, cameras…), but seeing that you can now substitute an entire shopping basket in a click is quite impressive.

> More interestingly, is independant from retailers featured on their site, and they resell primary data to CPG manufacturers. Traditionally, Coca-Cola, P&G… rely on traditional data providers (Nielsen…). What offers is all Saas, ultra-granular and real time. Since they focus on the user, they don’t even care if you complete your purchase online or through traditional retailers:

“It’s up to you how you use our site: You can order your basket online, print your basket as a shopping list and take it with you to your local supermarket or simply just compare different supermarket prices online.”

They have a highly replicable model, as long as they manage to acquire retailers data their future will be extremely bright.

> So, the business model is to provide consumers with comprehensive and transparent information on retailers, in order to acquire primary data and resell it to CPG manufacturers. Super disruptive and very bankable, fair play!

Thoughts and Implications for other retailers/businesses out there:

While some traditional retailers built their online presence from scratch, Amazon have been acquiring many niche retailers into their porfolio (think and, were acquired for $US550m in 2010, plus Zappos…). are the only one – to my knowledge – that act as third parties providing information as a portal.

Here’s what I’m interested in: companies such as Google, Facebook and Amazon have a lot of primary data (social graphs, purchasing behaviors…) and they are large enough to market it through Ads or use it to win more business (advanced consumer profiling).

Social graphs aren’t an easy source of primary data for obvious privacy reason. But as long as it’s an anonymous analysis of purchasing behavior, it seems to be fine! Google is also having a go at gathering consumer primary data through Google Consumer Survey.

In the era of Big Data, we have a newly-found ability to make sense of largely untapped datasets. That will help all companies to articulate data they have been sitting on for years. This goes in two different ways:

Enhance your consumer experience: The Power of suggestion. Big Data from a consumer-stand point: The concept of A/B testing isn’t new, what is new is your ability to query billions of data rows to serve customers better. Think CenterParcs using BigQuery optimizing their yield management system: “Center Parcs Europe employees are tracking booking trends easily, and the application has allowed them to adapt their marketing tactics to maximize

Primary Data as a Business model: Are you sitting on a gold mine? Most businesses would gather primary data as a consequence of day-to-day business activities. Now, it’s never been easier to monetize it: Making sense of data is relatively cheap since it’s all done through external providers such as Amazon and Google. If you need ten thousands a virtual machines to query a database, all you have to do is ask, go and play with this awesome retailer dashboard created by french startup BIME based on BigQuery

So, could well-established businesses and startups alter their strategies through embracing/reselling primary data? Could AirBnB team up with Yelp and Kayak to provide a super-targeted experience for their users?

Check out what Jill Dyche, blogging on Harvard Business Review blog Network, has to add.

NB: This was meant to be a blog entry, and turned out to be more of an essay. If you agree, or more interestingly of you disagree, I’m happy to chat about it, thanks.

-Rodolphe (initially published on



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