This month, we’ve decided to shine the limelight on What the Shop, the point-of-sale shopper experience management solution. It’s a startup we know well – it was awarded the Special Prize in the Lottery Challenge organized by La Française des Jeux and five other European lotteries.

Who are you?

I’m Lionel Avot, co-founder and CEO of What the Shop.

Tell us about the What the Shop adventure – when and how did it start?

The adventure began in 2014. Back then, there was already talk of Amazon’s plans for drone delivery, and with my colleagues – who, like me, have over 15 years’ experience in the digital world – we wondered how come Amazon had become the leading player in customer experience despite the fact that physical retailers have so many benefits to offer.
What the Shop was born with the idea of bringing all the tools we’re used to using in the digital world into the physical world. It’s a bit like if the web was a test lab, and now it’s time to make good use of all of the excellent practices that have been developed by implementing them in shops, which continue to account for 90% of all business – a fact that can be forgotten all too quickly!


Could you describe What the Shop in a few words?

What the Shop identifies the adverts that are most effective at generating visits to points of sales, analyses visitors’ behaviour in store, and offers them simple, customized digital interaction at the point of sale.


Your business model:

Our business model is very simple and very transparent – it’s based on a monthly licence for each point of sale, which provides access to all of our tools.


Your aims (short-/medium-term and long-term):

Our solution has grown to maturity and has entered its industrial stage – so now our challenge is to develop as quickly as possible in France and in Europe to become the leading solution for managing the point-of-sale shopper experience. We also have an extremely dynamic partner in Africa, who’s helping us to accelerate.


You took part in the Lottery Challenge. What did you gain from the experience? How are things with La Française des Jeux? Have you stayed in touch?

Of course! As well as the visibility the challenge provided, we’re now working with La Française des Jeux on a number of projects that should be released over the coming months. La Française des Jeux is France’s biggest local sales network with over 31,000 points of sale, so they’re a central client for us. Since the Lottery Challenge, we’ve also won other challenges, including one organized by the TF1 Group – it’s interesting to see where certain topics are converging… More details coming soon!


Which people and what infrastructure helped you out? What was the result?

Our biggest strength is our partners. We’ve surrounded What the Shop with a whole ecosystem of solutions linked to retail in order to open up a wide range of possibilities. SAS for data analysis, Symag for loyalty programmes, Nomosphère for network installation, SQLI to integrate our solution, TF1 for measuring the effectiveness of adverts – we can’t list them all here but we’re proud that we’ve been able to build some fantastic projects with all of these partners, who are leading figures in their fields.


What nice surprises have you encountered in your entrepreneurial adventure?

The first is the team, and its ability to grow with the project. Our technology relies on a hugely diverse skill set, and seeing the team tackle new problems and overcome them on a daily basis never fails to astound me. For me, entrepreneurship is first and foremost a human adventure.
The second nice surprise is all the support from government bodies. Finally, I think that all of the innovation assistance frameworks that there are around result in an environment that strongly encourages innovation.


The final word:

Sow innovation, harvest growth!


And a few bonus ‘Chinese portrait’ questions for our interviewee!

If you were a film? Dikkenek
If you were a song? Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
If you were a book? 1984 by George Orwell
If you were a quote? “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
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