By Tom Ballard, Director of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Initiatives, Pershing Yoakley & Associates, P.C.
WOW3D Group, LLC has an ambitious goal – to be in 1,000 locations with its Convenience Store Network by the end of 2014.
In a year-end interview with teknovation.biz, Steve Newman, President and Chief Executive Officer, said the goal is achievable, given the company’s current positioning and aggressive plans for a new product launch this month.
“C stores are the fastest growing retail area in the country today,” Newman said. Within that segment, hot bars are growing rapidly as convenience stores work to attract customers in diverse ways.
Newman explained that the company’s original product, a new offering that is being rolled out this month, and a strong relationship with the H. T. Hackney Company are significant factors in his optimism.
“Our primary business is still our initial 3D screen product,” he said. This technology, discussed previously in two teknovation.biz articles (first and second), delivers three dimensional images over standard video screens via the internet without requiring glasses.
WOW 3D believes this product can increase sales from 15 to 25 percent by grabbing the attention of individuals as they enter the convenience store.
The newer offering will begin its rollout this month at convenience stores in cities as diverse as Asheville, Atlanta and St. Louis. Newman describes it as the “dynamic menu board,” a rapidly emerging market, and says that the price of anything that appears on the 3D board can be changed in 10 seconds.
WOW 3D expects the dynamic nature of its technology, coupled with the pricing flexibility the enhancement offers, to quickly propel adoption of the menu boards.
“We are focused on chain stores,” Newman says, adding that the prices can be changed in only one store, several stores or all of the chain’s locations. This flexibility is another attractive feature.
The relationship with Hackney is particularly important to WOW 3D as it launches the menu board product. The former has eight centers from which it distributes 30,000 different products to 25,000 convenience stores.
“Hackney will include the menu board as part of the hot bar package it offers these stores,” Newman said.
The Hackney relationship, however, is more than just the latest WOW 3D product. “It’s the reason we are still in business,” Newman says.
There are other ideas in the pipeline.
“We’re exploring mobile devices that would tie into the screen,” Newman says. His vision involves free WiFi at the convenience stores that allow them to push offers to individuals once they are within 100 feet of the store.
The business model for the newer product is similar to the cable industry, something that Newman knows well from his previous professional life.
Later this spring, Newman and his team will be focused on raising a Series B round of funding to propel the growth that he expects.