Interview with Neil Patil – VP, Marketing of W5 Networks, Inc.
Below is an interview with Neil Patil – Vice President, Marketing of W5 Networks, Inc. We hope you find the interview informative and useful. Please visit their website and check it out! http://www.w5networks.com/
TechAddress: Tell me a bit about your company, what it does and what’s your value proposition?
W5 Networks: W5 Networks has developed a solution to the costly problem of shelf level pricing that has plagued supermarket chains. The problem is severe, consider that a typical supermarket store changes about 5,000-10,000 prices per week, which today means changing that many paper shelf labels to reflect new pricing and promotional information. That adds up to over $100,000 per year per store, in only labor and material costs alone. Also, this manual process commonly results in mismatch of prices at the shelf versus what is rung up at the checkout stand. This mismatch can lead to fines by local agencies, but most importantly can lead to customer dissatisfaction.
So, with this problem in mind, we created an electronic shelf label (ESL) system to dramatically cut these costs and help keep prices in synch between the shelf and checkout so shoppers could have the highest level of confidence in the price of the products they select. The W5 ESL system has three components: 1) W5 Console – controls and manages all aspects of the system 2) W5 Access Point – transmits and receives messages to and from each electronic shelf label 3) W5 ESL – a small display that replaces paper labels and wirelessly receives price and promotion updates from the access point, it also transmits confirmation messages and alerts, such temperature and other sensor information. Each of these ESLs is expected to have an average 5 year battery life.
TechAddress: What makes your company stand apart from your competitors?
W5 Networks: Our company stands apart from the rest as we have the right combination of technology innovation, strong management with retail experience, tier-one investors, and passionate employees.
As for our product, we’ve invented a patent-pending wireless architecture that would deliver on the unmet needs of supermarket chains. This architecture and other innovation has enabled us to offer a cost-effective solution, enable reliable and long-range communications requiring minimal power, and provide a wireless network that could power other retail and shopping applications in the future.
TechAddress: What are some of the main features?
- Update prices and promotions chain-wide within minutes
- Fully customizable LCD display to easily convey pricing and promotion to shoppers
- W5 console is simple to use and allows for configuration, system monitoring, reporting and store task management
- Sleek and durable ESL design that is easy to install on existing shelves
- Easy integration with leading point-of-sale systems through an XML interface
- ESL on-board sensors that monitor critical functions, temperature and battery voltage
TechAddress: Who’s your target customer or audience?
W5 Networks: Leading U.S. grocery retail chains
TechAddress: Any new things in particular that you’re working on right now?
W5 Networks: Yes, but I’d lose my job if I told you.
TechAddress: Where do you see your company heading in the future?
W5 Networks: The future is our customers and prospects today. We have no other focus but to deliver on the promise of our product and help our customers achieve a great ROI on a solution they’ve long been waiting for.
TechAddress: Any negative feedback or criticism regarding technology and services?
W5 Networks: No. There are few technologies that benefit both a retailer and its customers. We are excited that our product benefits both by building price confidence with shoppers and reducing costs for retailers.
TechAddress: So what would you say is the guiding principle behind your company?
W5 Networks: See answer to, ”Where do you see your company heading in the future?”
TechAddress: What is the mission of your company and what are you bringing to the market that is innovative?
W5 Networks: We are bridging the paper world to the digital world for retailers; by doing so our customers will gain an ROI that was previously unattainable as well as have an installed network that could power future applications further improving retail operations and a shopper’s experience.
There are many companies where innovation comes at a high cost to customers. We’ve met the challenge of developing breakthrough technology at market acceptable costs. To accomplish this we have created a unique wireless architecture that provides capabilities beyond anything available today and at the same time enables us to offer the industry a very cost-effective solution.
TechAddress: Where are you in terms of funding and your lifecycle?
W5 Networks: Received Series A venture funding of $10 million from Thomas Weisel Venture Partners and U.S. Venture Partners last year.
TechAddress: If your technology or service is not formally launched yet, when’s the launch date?
W5 Networks: We just launched at DEMOFall ’06 in San Diego. We’ve received considerable interest from the supermarket industry and retail technology community.