Tuning Into Shops with Sensors

Authored by: David del Ser
November 14, 2017 - 3 mins read

Finbots for Shopkeepers Series #2


Photo: Flickr under Creative Commons


What is the one thing small shopkeepers and professional hackers have in common? They don’t leave any digital traces. While that may be good for hackers, small retailers suffer from the lack of recorded data about themselves and their business. They are less productive with analog processes and have a harder time convincing lenders to give them business loans. Luckily, smartphones and their native sensors are changing the digital game for microentrepreneurs. Smartphone sensors are the first part of the formula for Finbot-fueled growth.


Imagine Rosita, your corner shopkeeper in Mexico City, just bought her first Android phone. At $50–100 USD, this is an investment she can afford. She set up a WhatsApp account and started using Google Voice to dictate messages to her family and friends. When she opens her shop for business, she’ll be carrying her business’ first supercomputer in her pocket. Her smartphone can start collecting data and literally put her business on the map.


Sensors to Make Sense


There are a few types of sensors in her phone and the data they generate can help her to understand her business:



The Cost-Benefit of Data


With these sensors, Rosita can capture data about each of the main activities of her business. The level of effort is negligible for passive sensors like a microphone or thermometer and taking pictures is a snap. Tracking transactions with the touchscreen is laborious so value Rosia gets from the information would need to compensate for her level of effort.The smartphone would have to help Rosita create useful information and make sense of it in order to help her make good choices.


Creating sufficient incentives for users to collect a big pile of raw, messy and unstructured data is only the first step of the journey. To move from data collection to making sense of data, Rosita needs Artificial Intelligence — the second part of the formula and the subject of our next post. Stay tuned!

Related Publications
Leave a Reply