Sparking Growth in Corner Shops

Authored by: David del Ser
November 19, 2017 - 4 mins read

Finbots for Shopkeepers Series #4

In this series I have described how smartphone sensors can generate raw data and how AI techniques can be applied to transform that data into structured information. Now we are ready for the final step: putting it all together to create valuable insights for decision-making and to automate tasks to save time and effort.


Imagine a Penny for shopkeepers like Rosita


To do that, we need to construct a devoted Finbot to advise and coach someone like our shopkeeper Rosita. This Finbot could, of course, work for many shopkeepers, observing what works and doesn’t across the network, and finding the best prices and products available in the market. Based on the sensor data and the intelligence from insights, a Finbot could provide support to Rosita’s main retail operations, which include:


Serving the End Consumer

Armed with information about who is buying what, the Finbot could help our shopkeeper, Rosita, create more valuable relationships with her customers by:


Dealing with Suppliers

Since the Finbot would have data on sales, purchases, and inventory, it could streamline communications with suppliers by:


Managing the Business

The Finbot could also make Rosita a better business manager by:


Partnering With Financial Institutions


Finally, the Finbot could help Rosita collaborate with financial partners by:


Impact on the Shop

In Mexico, Rosita’s corner shop would typically keep almost a full month’s worth of inventory as compared to only five days for modern convenience stores. While any one decision supported by the Finbot coach may generate only small savings in time and money, the aggregate improvements could boost overall productivity. As an example, if all that excess capital locked up in inventory could be put to good use, it could multiply Rosita’s revenues!


In addition, the Finbot could provide on-the-job training, finally giving Rosita the chance to learn the basics of inventory management. By chatting with the Finbot about her products and data, Rosita could elevate her marketing skills and put idle moments in her day to better use. Perhaps Rosita could grow as a manager, getting tips on how to delegate to employees or advice on when she’d be ready to open a second shop.


Departing Thoughts

Sparking growth in any business is about gathering data, culling insights, and making better decisions. A Finbot could make Rosita’s shop more productive by creating time for her to focus on her clients and suppliers. This would boost her income and eventually allow her to expand the business.


Unfortunately, such a Finbot doesn’t exist yet, even if it’s already technologically feasible. As is, Rosita is an impressive entrepreneur but patching together such a sophisticated AI system is beyond an average person’s skills.


In emerging markets, fundamental shifts in technology are planting the seeds for growth. With all the power that smartphones already offer, shopkeepers could leapfrog straight into a situation in which their mobile super computers digitize and run their businesses. We hope fintech innovators will consider building smart personal finance apps for low-income customers once they see Finbots for micro-entrepreneurs as a business opportunity. How can we accelerate this trend to give small shopkeepers around the world a business edge? We’d love to know what the community is up to and how they can be part of this wave.

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