We talked to JoAnna Sullivan of Q-ZERO about empowering end users to “self-checkout” via their own mobile device, and she had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
JoAnna Sullivan: We’re doing okay. This virus has touched so many friends & colleagues now that we have become quite adept at changing plans accordingly. Life during a pandemic is very different, and business is now conducted via remote working for us all, rather than at a co-working space. The risk of infection being too great makes the best sense for our team for the foreseeable future. Thankfully companies like Zoom have made meeting “virtually” possible and in some cases easier than in person.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Q-ZERO.
JoAnna Sullivan: Bringing over 15yrs of sales & business development in Luxury goods and retail organizations, I was uniquely placed to see the repercussions of lack of innovation in the retail industry. This inherent lack of understanding of the consumer’s journey in-store has crippled many leading brands and retailers over the last decade and helped the stagnation of once a thriving sector. In respect of this, I challenged myself to find a solution to one of the main issues causing the most friction in the average consumer’s journey; payment issues at the traditional POS. Q-Zero was developed in accordance with our mission to empower our end user to “self-checkout” via their own mobile device! No more additional scanners or other hardware.
How does Q-ZERO innovate?
JoAnna Sullivan: We conceptualized Q-ZERO in order to help provide a solution to help create a seamless & frictionless journey for our end-user by use of API’s our system plugs into existing retailers systems and allows our end-user to launch Q-ZERO app on their mobile device, then they can scan a QR price tag in-store and make a purchase within 60 seconds! No more waiting in line or other frustrating payment issues!
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
JoAnna Sullivan: Firstly, We had to dispense with all co-working and in-person meetings or events. At first, we thought it was going to prevent any progress, but then we could see this was going to revolutionize physical retail as we knew – by force! It was extraordinary to slowly realize that there might eventually be a silver lining for us as a business in the midst of this great tragedy. We knew that given the strict Covid protocols around social distancing and contamination of merchandise retailers faced that it provided a catalyst for them to seek innovative solutions such as Q-Zero to alleviate the new problems they had to deal with connected to Covid-19 in the immediate future. So, we are now modestly optimistic that we now have even more value to offer today’s global shopper.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
JoAnna Sullivan: We had to make hard decisions around our technical team- streamlining in order to ride out the storm. Cashflow is always king, and raising investment has been challenging even before the pandemic hit! Most startups are also concerned about their business model, but this crisis made us really check the value proposition and take time to make new market research & analysis. In a rapidly changing digital retail landscape, we needed to know that this solution was still very much needed.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
JoAnna Sullivan: After the first lockdown finished, I personally committed to a more regimented diet & fitness program – so that stood me in the second lockdown. When you think you look better, you tend to actually feel better! Mentally, also the anticipation of starting training again gave me ‘light at the end of the tunnel’. Everything is perspective, so it’s good to try to focus on the positives and take small actions each day to resolve conflict or negativity.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
JoAnna Sullivan: We have many direct and indirect rivals: Goliaths like Amazon and Walmart and startups like Zippin & Grabgo amongst other payment apps.
If we concentrate on providing a really great core offering and gathering feedback quickly, we can evolve the product according to our end-users’ needs.
If we are providing them with great service, solving their problems and consequently converting them into sales, we are doing well! On the surface, Q-ZERO is a self-checkout application, but underneath it’s hopefully also a great tool for consumers to shop more #consciously as they have the opportunity to interact with the product.
Your final thoughts?
JoAnna Sullivan: Life for many retailers will never be the same. Unfortunately, many won’t be able to brace this Covid storm, but I would envisage, as do many retail analysts, a renaissance in retail and I think that with Q-ZERO, retailers either large or small it will help them innovate at a lower cost and provide them with a more cohesive omnichannel strategy overall.
We have to think about community and employment even more so now, and we are very passionate about helping retailers adapt and compete with the bigger online players. Their success is not just about expansive budgets but their agility and creativity.
Finally, it is very much about #conscious shopping and #sustainability. Why order 10/20 things online you haven’t seen in reality in the faint hope they are ideal when you can go down to your local retailer and touch and feel the product – try it on and even make a day of it with your friends or family! So retailers don’t be shy get in touch so we can partner with you to enable you to convert those frustrated or anxious instore clients into happy paying customers ($$) https://www.q-zero.io/contact/
Q-Zero, minimum queue time, maximum retail therapy!