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Jon Cheney is the Founder and CEO of Seek, a customer experience company with a flagship product that does web-based augmented reality product visualization. It is a tool that allows customers to view their products in the natural environment around them through their smartphones. 

In his early years, Jon ran his own DJ business, a kayaking school, and put in his time as a door-to-door salesman. He also served in several management positions over the past 12 years before starting Seek in 2016.

 

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • Jon talks about his company, Seek, and the kind of work they do
  • Jon explains the mobile conversion rate stats with and without augmented reality
  • How brands with many SKUs can make use of and manage augmented reality
  • Can Amazon sellers use Seek on their Amazon listings?
  • Projecting lighting and shimmer differences on 3D models and how Seek helps brands without 3D models. How Seek protects itself from being pushed out of the way by Amazon
  • How to use the Seek app on the desktop and phone
  • Seek’s future plans for products to serve the face, hands, and feet 
  • Snapchat’s virtual augmented reality with ads 
  • Jon addresses the issue on privacy, how his company uses data, and the problems that can arise from products like Google glasses
  • The impact of augmented reality on retail stores and Jon’s experience at a try-on booth
  • How augmented reality could be a threat to giant retail stores and how its use reduces product return rates
  • What augmented reality has in store for education and the environment

In this episode…

Advancements in technology have brought about many changes in how brands manage and operate their online stores as well as how consumers shop online. Augmented reality allows consumers to see the products they intend to buy in their homes through their phones before they actually buy them. This means they can view and test out the product’s features to find out if it truly meets their expectations and needs.

Jon Cheney, Founder of Seek, says that retail stores that have embraced this technology have reported increased conversion rates and reduced their return rates. In addition, smaller retail stores are better placed for competition with the giant retailers who are yet to adapt augmented reality. It’s a game-changer in retail and the sooner people get on board, the better it will be for everyone.

Join Eric Stopper in this episode of the Buy Box Experts as he talks to Jon about the benefits of augmented reality in both online and retail stores, and what the future of retail will look like in the future as more businesses adapt to this technology. They also talk about how Seek makes 3D models, their plans to integrate with Amazon in 2020, and what it can do for education and the environment in the future. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

Buy Box Experts applies decades of e-commerce experience to successfully manage their clients’ marketplace accounts. The Buy Box account managers specialize in combining an understanding of their clients’ business fundamentals and their in-depth expertise in the Amazon Marketplace. 

The team works with marketplace technicians using a system of processes, proprietary software, and extensive channel experience to ensure your Amazon presence captures the opportunity in the marketplace–not only producing greater revenue and profits but also reducing or eliminating your business’ workload. 

Buy Box prides itself on being one of the few agencies with an SMB (small to medium-sized business) division and an Enterprise division. Buy Box does not commingle clients among divisions as each has unique needs and requirements for proper account management

Learn more about Buy Box Experts at BuyBoxExperts.com

Episode Transcript

Eric Stopper 0:09
Welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast we bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s e-commerce world. Hey, this is Eric stopper and welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast. This episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts. We take ambitious brands and we make them unbeatable. We’ve got a team of consultants over here that will identify key low hanging fruit for some of your best selling cases on Amazon. So if you are an Amazon seller and you want to make more revenue, then go to Buy Box Experts.com click on the free analysis button and you’ll be connected with me or a member of my team. We are going to start charging for it. It’s free right now. So go and click the button before you have to spend a couple of hundred bucks to talk with us. Our time is just getting limited. So go and click on that button. Today we are joined by Jon Cheney. He is the founder and CEO of Seek a customer experience company with a flagship product that does web-based augmented reality product visualization. It’s a tool that allows customers to view their products in the natural environment around them through their smartphones. In his early years, he ran his own DJ business, a kayaking school, and he put in his time as a door to door salesman. He’s served in several management positions over the past 12 years before starting Seek in 2016. He is a proud husband, father for a pianist, an avid kayaker, and I brought Jon on the show to show you the future of e-commerce. Jon, welcome to the show.

Jon Cheney 1:39
Thanks so much, Glad to be here.

Eric Stopper 1:41
So, in a nutshell, I tried to give the best introduction possible but just tell me and the listeners what is Seek.

Jon Cheney 1:48
Yeah, yeah. I mean, you kind of nailed it. You know, seek is, you know, started out very different than where we are now and happy to go into that conversation. But we started out as an augmented reality company and like you said, Our flagship product still is around augmented reality and allowing customers to see products in their home in their life before they buy it. But ultimately seeks to kind of larger vision is to improve the customer experience. You know, if you were actually working on a video right now, that’s going to be pretty funny. But it’s basically showing how shopping hasn’t changed, you know, shopping at home at least hasn’t really changed much since the 1950s. Right? I mean, 1950s, you’re sitting there, and you’ve got a catalog and you’re looking at pictures and prices and descriptions, and you pick up the phone and you place an order. And today it’s not very different. Yeah, you might not be looking through a physical catalog, but you’re jumping online and you’re looking at a catalogue of pictures and prices and then text and then and then pushing order, right. And so that experience has gotten a little bit stale for a lot of people and so there’s a lot of companies trying to figure got, you know how to how to bring that to the future and we believe augmented reality is, is kind of one of the big first steps that will help us kind of enter that next decade if you will of shopping.

Eric Stopper 3:12
Yeah, we’ll see. We’ll see if it lasts a decade because technology’s moving fast, right? You guys are gonna have to innovate like crazy. You said it started a bit different. Originally, it wasn’t augmented reality.

Jon Cheney 3:24
Yeah, no, we were we have augmented reality. But we were a very different approach. You know, at this point, we’re a b2b SaaS company, right? I mean, we provide a service that the, you know, e-commerce companies, retail companies pay us to help enable this technology on our website and our store whatever to use to use augmented reality. But we started out as a Pokemon GO spin-off, actually, you know, instead of going around finding Pokemon out in the world, we said, hey, let’s do that a little different. Let’s try to make it something that advertisers could use. And so we would have brands pay us to put prizes inside of traffic. chests essentially. And these treasure chests would be all over outside. And you could go around and walk around with your phone just like in Pokemon Go and you’d find a treasure chest open it and you’d have a chance of winning a prize from some brand or you know coupons or

Eric Stopper 4:12
Kind of geocaching augmented reality.

Jon Cheney 4:15
Yeah, on that show kind of thing. You got it?

Eric Stopper 4:18
Right on. So a few stats from your website and from some of the articles. Average mobile conversion without augmented reality is about 3.5%. With augmented reality, it increases to 11%. Now I’m going to let everyone pause and digest that for a second. So So think about specifically sellers and vendors, right? Think about the numbers that are on your, on your business reports. And imagine increasing your conversion rate by a triple, right, you’ve tripled your conversion rate just by adding augmented reality. That was the only difference across these studies. Can you tell me a little bit about methodology where you gather this data on how you fit came to those numbers?

Jon Cheney 5:04
Yeah, yeah, there’s, some numbers are almost too good to be true. I mean, seeds that were those in their life, they just dismiss them because like, No way nothing does that

Eric Stopper 5:13
that was my first thought I would.

Jon Cheney 5:15
Yeah, absolutely and I will qualify it and say that the specific category where you see those types of results is going to be for home furnishings, right? larger goods and I would include appliances in that, right? You know, being able to see how big a TV is on your wall, or being able to see how a couch fits in your living room or, you know, what a new dishwasher might look like in your kitchen. those are pretty considered purchases that are you know, they’re higher ticket they’re going to affect the way that your house in your room looks and what your family’s interacting with their big decisions. And so, you know, one of the things that I didn’t mention and they didn’t mention the stats is a time of consideration, right. A lot of times, it takes seven or eight visits to a website to say, Alright, I’ve finally decided this is the couch I’m going to buy, I finally decided this is the dishwasher I’m going to buy, right? But when augmented reality is used that seven or eight times is reduced also to two or three times, right? Because it just answers questions when you can see something in your space, you immediately know alright, this fits. This matches my decor. I like the way I feel when I look at this. I like it. I like everything else about it got good reviews, and now all my questions are answered. I’m ready to order it. Right. So you’re much more likely to order and then of course, less likely to return it.

Eric Stopper 6:36
How what’s the breakdown 70 down to three to four interactions with the product vignettes to their x two to three interactions. So you cut the time. Cut the time in half that it takes somebody to buy that to actually make a purchase decision. Wow, you got it. Man that is remarkable. Did you test the difference between demographics to You test male and female and age and how they respond to these kinds of things?

Jon Cheney 7:03
Not yet. We haven’t dug that deep partly because and maybe largely because we don’t capture that data. Sure. Amazon hides it from you, too. Yeah, we just don’t want to get involved with GDPR and all that stuff. And so we purposefully stay far enough away that we don’t really know. Now, it’s possible that a brand that has really good accounts and things like that would be able to know it for themselves. But we haven’t asked any specific brands to tell us that or share that information with us yet. But we have, you know, our system is able to hook into, you know, whether it’s Magento or Google Analytics or whatever to tie our system and functions and everything, and all that data into their own data. And so if they have data on who’s purchasing Why then they could potentially do that, but I would be interested in it’s something that we’ve wondered about, but, but right now, it’s just generalized. We know that it makes a big impact across the board.

Eric Stopper 7:59
Okay, Then. So that makes a lot of sense to me now I’m, I’m thinking we deal with clients who have 10s of thousands of skews. Yep. Right. And the amount of 3d renderings they have for those are typically maybe one per parent product, right, which is still even great. Like that would be that would be an excellent situation. How in the world would somebody wanting to use seek, be able to manage such a huge skew load for their business? You know,

Jon Cheney 8:31
it depends on what type of business you are. If you’re a retailer, let’s say like Target or overstock is a good example of one of our real customers. They don’t manufacture any products. They just sell other people’s products. Right? And so they put the onus on the suppliers to say, hey, look, here are the benefits. We’re seeing massive increases in sales, conversion, massive decreases in return rate, better customer experience across the board. If you want customers on overstock to experience that with your product, then send us 3d model And so each of the suppliers then is able to do that. But what overstock ran into specifically with this problem was each of these suppliers was sending over 3d models, and they were in 100 different formats. And some were compressed, some were not. Some had textures, some were inverted, and some were just, you know, everything, almost every single company was sending a different style. And so it was a very manual process for overstock to go in. And manually look at every single model, decide whether or not this was good to go compress it, open it another program, do some things on it to improve the textures and whatever they had to do. It was a very, it was about a two to three-hour process per model. And where a seat comes in some of the behind the scenes stuff you don’t really know what we’re doing if you just glance at our website, is we have proprietary technology that that takes in content 3d content at scale, standardizes it and spits it out and ready to go. So we were, you know, we could take 20,000 3d files that are all non-standardized and coming in different formats and, and literally just push a button and wake up the next morning and they’re ready to be installed on the website.

Eric Stopper 10:13
So you’ve you said that your position mostly for like selling to businesses like overstock, but I’m, I’m an Amazon seller, right? I’ve got five product lines that I sell myself. How do I get my files into Seek? How do I make it so that when somebody goes to my Amazon page, they can see my products projected in front of them using their phone?

Jon Cheney 10:35
Yeah, we don’t work directly with Amazon on that function yet. They are one of the compatibilities that we’re adding this year. Okay, but they, most of these sellers also have their own websites. And so we would be able to assist with getting it installed directly on the website. And that’s a big thing that we do. It’s Atlas works right on your website. You don’t have to maintain additional platforms. But let’s say you sell wallets right and you have you know 15 products you could send seek pictures of those products we can create 3d models of them and get them up installed and up and running and eventually provide the same files that Amazon will need to to have it active on their Amazon listing.

Eric Stopper 11:17
Can you project like lighting differences shine and shimmer and stuff like that on your 3d models?

Jon Cheney 11:24
Absolutely. Yeah. So there’s a couple of things that we can do there one we can affect how reflective different surfaces are how much they look like plastic, how much they look like metal and you know, we have all kinds of, you know, neat settings that 3d models can have and that’s texture by texture piece by piece. We could modify that. I mean, you could show like alligator skin, you know, and it would look like that and reflect like that. But then the viewers themselves that when you see it on the phone, actually measure your ambient light, right. So if it’s really bright outside or if it’s dusk, you know, or if you have pink light around you for some reason, right? It’s going to actually apply the hues that it detects in your environment to your product so that it looks very natural.

Eric Stopper 12:09
Do you have to have a certain level of a phone in order for it to do that

Jon Cheney 12:12
a certain platform, any phone beyond an iPhone six will on the iPhone side. So I mean, really, any phone in the last four or five years is going to be pretty good.

Eric Stopper 12:22
That’s incredible. So back to like how someone like me, like I got my website, and I want augmented reality on there. I don’t have 3d models for some of my products. And so where would you point me, right? I want seek Therefore, I have to do X, Y, and Z before I can get there, you send us your product pages within your product pages typically have pictures of the product as well as dimensions of the product. That’s all we need to make a 3d model. Right? You guys will actually make it.

Jon Cheney 12:50
Yeah, we can make it as well.

Eric Stopper 12:52
So you have like a group of mechanical engineers over there generating CAD files or how

Jon Cheney 12:58
Yeah, so it’s not quite we don’t Have to go all the way back to the CAD level. Now if you are a company that has CAD files of your products and CAD designs, send us those because like best-case scenario,

Jon Cheney 13:08
that’s awesome. Now we can use those, we can convert them into the right things and it takes some work, but it can be done. But yeah, we have 3d modelers that I would compare them to clay sculptors, right, that are just doing it in 3d, digitally, right? They’re taking a ball, starting with that and saying, right, we need to make a couch. So let’s make something that’s long. And then let’s start working on the arms. I mean, they’re artists really. And they create those products. And it’s unbelievable. Like you can put the product right next to the real thing, and you’re like, that looks exactly the same.

Eric Stopper 13:39
Right? Well, so I want to talk about the elephant in the augmented reality room. In one of your articles, there was a great quote that I got out of it simply if you want to keep from falling behind. You got to focus on getting ahead. Amazon, right. You said that you’re working on integration on their platform. This year, what’s to keep them from coming in and just and just making their own tool and just totally pushing you guys out of the way? What? What kind of secret sauce do you have in the works to keep that from happening?

Jon Cheney 14:11
Yeah, that’s a good question. You know, we’re always trying to stay in the lead. And I can tell you about another conversation I had with Google today in a bit. But with Amazon, specifically, they only do it in their app right now. Mm hmm. Right. So we’re already ahead. We can do it in an app. That’s easy. Anyone can do it an app. Like if I could show you 100 companies that can help you see an augmented reality product in your app. But companies that are able to deploy content on the web cross-platform, so that these little companies don’t have to build an app for themselves, right. We can do we can, we can make it work everywhere. For overstock, we provide all of the services for mobile web, or desktop 3d view for their iOS app, their Android app, right it’ll just run through our same system. So we have the largest that kind of the widest compatibility matrix, right out there. Most of these other brands are companies that do have AR IKEA, Wayfair. Amazon, you know, and we could go down the list. There’s a lot of great companies that have built some good AR experiences, but they’re all in the app. And we’re doing it all on the web, which becomes much more accessible. Let me tell you one more stat there. Overstock. What do you think about what percentage of their traffic Do you think comes through their app versus their website?

Eric Stopper 15:34
Oh, I would say probably 80 8020, maybe even 9010?

Jon Cheney 15:39
Yeah, it’s closer to 9010.

Unknown Speaker 15:41
Okay, so

Jon Cheney 15:42
so they’ve got this cool AR thing in their app, which they had before we came along. And it’s getting crazy results, right. They’re tripling their, their conversion rates there. I mean, it’s amazing, the numbers, the numbers that they’re getting. And so but only 10% of their traffic casino It right Actually, it’s a little mess. But so now over 90% now added into their, into their funnel, right? We’re making a huge impact right now 100% of their users can see their products in augmented reality.

Eric Stopper 16:14
Well, so So help me understand this though I’m on a computer and I’m searching on Overstock. And then I see this little seek button or there’s a little thing that I can interact with that allows me to see something projected into augmented reality, does it then route it to my phone so that I can move over to the spot in my living room? Or do I have to view it through my desktop?

Jon Cheney 16:32
Yeah, no, it’s happening. You know, the augmented reality component has to happen on the device that has a camera, right, and a screen, right. And so if theoretically, yeah, you could do it through a laptop and using the webcam and whatever. That’s not a great experience, because you’d have to like get out of the way and it’s just weird, right? The best device that we have right now is a phone. Right? The phone is going to let you very naturally, you know, view something in front of you. With the camera being right there, the best-case scenario is the future which we can talk about in a minute. Also, his glasses right augmented reality glasses and, and that’s, that’s coming. But if you’re on a desktop, you’ll see a 3d view of it and you’ll be able to spin it around and just a, you know, a nice 3d 3d view and zoom in and out on it. But then you can click View and augmented reality. And then what it will do is bring up a QR code, right? And that barcode, you can just scan it, and it projected over. Okay, before, before we get to the glasses, I understand you went to CES this year, and I want to pick your brain about some of that. But

Eric Stopper 17:34
Snapchat, right Snapchat has this amazing virtual augmented reality, the kind of the keys to the kingdom in terms of changing your face changing your environment around you, is that something that Seek is looking to get into, for instance, the reason I asked is because I sell headphones or like earplugs that attach to your glasses, and so they attach and you can plug them right in For like construction workers and people that work in aviation. Yeah. So are we going that direction where somebody could open up their face camera and be able to project the product onto their person?

Jon Cheney 18:13
Absolutely, yeah. And we’re working on that stage by stage this year, we will release products that will serve the face, feet, and hands, right. So you’ll be able to try a ring on right? And buy a watch on you’ll be able to try classes on you’ll be able to add on to try shoes on to be able to do all of that through a web-based

interface interaction.

Eric Stopper 18:38
Wait, so hold on, so hold on a second. I’m scrolling on Instagram or Tick Tock even I would love to get your thoughts on Tick Tock as well. But I’m scrolling through Instagram. Is there ever gonna be a situation where the ad that served up to me is literally just the video of me wearing the product that the advertisement is in? You got it? How do we get there? What In the way of getting to that point,

Jon Cheney 19:02
almost nothing is in the way at this point, right? When you’re in an app especially you have a lot more freedom and power to use some of the face tracking and things like that that Instagram or Snapchat and these people use Instagram could deliver that today. I mean you can get into Instagram right now and turn on a filter that will put glasses on you right now you just have to make sure those glasses are brand new. Yeah, right. The technology is there today.

Eric Stopper 19:30
What Why isn’t it Why am I getting ads served up that project my the products on to me,

Jon Cheney 19:36
You are but you might not you just might not feel like it which means Snapchat and Instagram. They’re doing a good job. But if you get into Snapchat right now, a lot of those filters are sponsored. Right? Really, I guess I guess there’s a little indicator

Jon Cheney 19:52
Cola, you know, or whatever, like, but they’re just cool things and you’re pushing out somebody else’s brand but literally if you open Snapchat right now just scroll through all the different things for Instagram right now you’re going to see brands on there, you’re going to see content that like Stranger Things. That’s a great example. I don’t know if you did ever did the stranger thing I

Eric Stopper 20:11
Did. So fun.

Jon Cheney 20:12
Yeah, but that’s an advertisement. Yeah. That’s it.

Eric Stopper 20:17
So, in our space in advertisements, this is like our dream, right? We want all this data, we want to be able to interact with you and put clothes on you and put and put glasses on you and whenever we can, right? Are people generally the population kind of concerned about this almost gorilla advertising inside of their app? Or are people pretty open to it and they haven’t really brought up any concerns with you and your team?

Jon Cheney 20:45
There’s definitely privacy concerns. Anytime you have your camera being opened, right, you’re like a man who’s recording this. who’s seen this? I can tell you this from the way that seat does it just like we don’t know if you’re a male or a female or where you are or anything like that. We don’t see that feed, right. All we know is that you have accessed a 3d file and we’ve thrown it into your camera feed, but we can’t see that. And any company that’s recording that would definitely be violating all kinds of privacy. Sure.

Eric Stopper 21:17
That’s good to know.

Jon Cheney 21:18
I hope nobody is doing that. I mean, I know that you know, I mean, if you record something on Instagram, and you post it, and then now it’s out there, but from our standpoint, we’re providing a blind technology that just lets you use it how you want but we’re not looking at any sort of additional things. Now, when you get into like, google glasses, Apple glasses, Facebook glasses, all these things where people are now going to be going around with glasses on their face constantly with a camera scanning the environment, right? I literally won’t be able to walk up to you without my phone being like, hey, that’s Eric. Yeah, right. Because it’s going to recognize you from your LinkedIn picture or your Facebook profile. And you’re going to be on my friends’ list. And, and so you know, there’s some real quick privacy issues that’s a lot of what these companies it’s not just the hardware and that but there’s legalities and privacy issues that people are going to have to be comfortable with when Tim Cook stands up on the stage and says All right, here we go, guys, we did the watch we brought you the phone and nowhere are the glasses the teeth Yeah, I mean he they’re gonna do it all eventually right? We’re going to be bionic Apple humans, right?

Unknown Speaker 22:21
I hope so. I hope so.

Jon Cheney 22:25
I love the products I love the future and the advancement of combining you know our biology with electronics and seeing how we can get more out of the world but that’s where the privacy is really gonna start to hit.

Eric Stopper 22:38
That makes a lot of sense. Um, can Alexa show do this yet? Can I not say, Alexa, show me the best selling blue light filtering glasses on Amazon and they’re just like boom throws them on me and I can see myself not yet. It’s not capable yet.

Jon Cheney 22:55
The reason cameras on the phones are the only ones that can To me it is because they have crazy you know scanning like the face scanning and face ID stuff on the iPhone right? There’s an amazing number of sensors that are you know, they have alike created dot matrix of your face right phone to make fake face ID work and so it’s those same measurements that were able to take to say hey, what are these glasses look like? And you know, little device cheap devices like an echo show don’t have those types of sensors

Eric Stopper 23:31
I look at my mirror right? I’m shopping and I say that shirt looks pretty cool or those pants look pretty cool. Can I like look at myself like this as a selfie? Can I go to my mirror and take a video like open my camera and look at my mirror and IT projects the clothing onto me? Or are we a few months or years away from that capability.

Jon Cheney 23:54
Were a couple of years away. There’s a couple of issue with that. One of them is sizing, right? It’s one thing to show a shirt on somebody, but are we actually measuring what that looks like? The style of 3d model is going to have to be very different because it’s going to have to be a dynamic model that folds to your curves, you know, and bends to your curves, and that there’s a lot of really technical things there. So, one, what the first issue is, the cameras that we have on our phones aren’t that accurate yet? Right? They can, they can detect, essentially a stick figure pose right now.

Eric Stopper 24:33
Almost like a video game. hitbox

Jon Cheney 24:34
for shooting, got it. You got it. So literally, it’s like, oh, that’s the torso. They’re the arms. They’re the legs that sometimes don’t even know like, it might think you’re bending your elbow away. That’s unnatural. You know, like you’re I think

Eric Stopper 24:46
we’ve all seen kind of how virtual reality does that

Jon Cheney 24:49
you got it? Yeah. So. So that’s kind of all we’re able to see right now with a mobile device. And we can only do it at about 10 frames per second. So it’s choppy and bumpy. So I think three years from now we’ll see good, full-body clothes, try on through phone and hopefully through class,

Eric Stopper 25:08
a lot of Yeah, a lot of that’s gonna fall on the shoulders of the manufacturers of the products to be able to determine, like radius and fit and all that kind of stuff on an actual piece of clothing.

Jon Cheney 25:19
It’s going to require a lot of collaboration, right? It’s going to require the phone manufacturers providing the right sensors, and then it’s going to require the clothes manufacturers providing accurate measurements, right, a large from Nike is different than a large at Abercrombie. Yeah. Does Abercrombie, still a thing? I don’t know.

Jon Cheney 25:38
Okay, good. All right. But they’re definitely a tighter fit versus just a very athletic fit, and looser. And so, you know, you can’t just be like, Oh, this is what a large shirt looks like, right? Each brand is going to have to provide very precise measurements, where they’re going to have to provide data on what the clothing is made of, so that the computer can then say, all right, if it’s 80% nylon and 20% cotton and this fits like this. Yeah, you know, like there’s a lot of coordination that’s gonna have to happen. And so I think that the very first implementations are going to be three years from now, but it’s not going to be, you know, fully implemented and really trustworthy for, for some time, maybe a decade.

Eric Stopper 26:18
If if you’re listening to this, any of our fans and you already have something that can help Jon out creating this, please reach out to him because let’s be three years, come on, we’re moving faster than that with recursive learning. So, retail, we can’t ignore the impact that this is going to have on retail in an ideal world, right. We’ve been using mannequins since forever ago. And that’s the worst, right? What are they doing? They even have like pictures of people wearing the products. I don’t care. I want to see it on me. So ideally, they have these augmented reality systems built into their stores when I’m walking by their window, they should have like a big TV screen that scans me and then fits me into their clothing. Um, I saw that at CES.

Eric Stopper 27:03
Tell me about it

Jon Cheney 27:04
was awesome. I don’t want to give credit to the wrong person, but I think it was LG,

Eric Stopper 27:11
and LG and Samsung and all these guys are just swinging for the fences. I think I think Samsung is the one that had the glasses this year that was just like, out of this world.

Jon Cheney 27:20
Yeah. And there’s they’re getting better, everything’s getting better. It’s it still needs, you know, a couple more years for Moore’s law to you know, catch up and give them the power the processing power that they need. That’s in a small enough form factor to work well at scale but in-store so at LG, there was a booth right you walk in it was kind of like a, a booth to try on but it’s kind of like where you would get, you know, measured it for a suit or something or a dress. And I had, you know, stand on the thing that was actually a scale so, you know, weighed me and then there were like seven cameras that were scanning me and looking at me I had to stare ahead And, and you know, for about five seconds and then and then it’s like, okay, I now know you’re, you know, five foot 975 pounds or whatever it is like it tells me all of my,

Eric Stopper 28:09
did they give you your avatar? Is that like a piece of data that lives now with you? You don’t want that?

Jon Cheney 28:14
Yes, it was a throwaway one, they didn’t actually save it. But I was able to take it then and then go and sit down and use one of their apps. Well, they had a phone there that that would load up the data from that I just got from that. And then I could try clothes on, you know, just by tapping on it and it would put it on my avatar, right and it was pretty accurate, right? It added maybe two inches to my waist. Maybe I had just eaten a big meal or something. But it was pretty good. Right? I was able to see okay, this is what this jacket will look like on me and they only had about maybe 16 products in total that you could try on probably per gender, which means they had gone through the painstaking process of doing everything I just talked about right? Making sure all right, do we have all the data for these few pieces of clothing? And can we make this work? So even for a big company with a fairly significant budget, they had to use a massive in-store processor in the computer to do it. And then they only were able to do it for a very few select numbers of products that were pre-configured and set up and ready to do this. And so again, do it at scale is going to take a lot of time and then to do it on a mobile device, it’s going to be a few years as well.

Eric Stopper 29:25
Do you think that these scanning booths because there’s actually there’s one in Orem, Utah, that I got to go into these guys were essentially creating? They were doing augmented reality like you could create a wedding invitation and you could like, project the couple onto this invitation and they were like telling you to come to their party is really, really cool. Do you think that these booths are going to start popping up everywhere so that we can start scanning ourselves to make it easier for these companies to project clothing onto us?

Jon Cheney 29:55
Yes, I do. I would like them to pop up to write for the purpose. Scanning myself and making a little cool statue of me, but for for products as well, right? I mean, what if we just had scanning booths where companies could just bring their products in, or if it’s portable enough, take the scanning technology to a warehouse or something and just scan, scan, scan, scan, because I’d much rather scan or project or a product, right, you know, then having to have my artists create a 3d, you know, envision for right now, it costs us, you know, a couple of hundred bucks, maybe 300 bucks to create a 3d model from scratch. Whereas a scan right now at scale, especially with larger object objects is probably 500 to $1,000. And to get it done at the right level of detail that you would need to be able to use it in an e-commerce setting. So yeah, I would like more and more of these two, so I want that to be commoditized because that will drop the price substantially and increase the amount of 3d content that needs somewhere to live and that makes seek more valuable because we host 3d content

Eric Stopper 30:59
good And get yourself scanned. If if you’re listening to this find someone that has a scanner unless you’re terrified about that kind of stuff. So if I am a retail giant, and I see e-commerce growing and right it stands to reason that the better e-commerce gets, the more products will be purchased, but also the more people will start tending to buy those products on e-commerce is augmented reality a threat to these to the JC Penney’s and the h&m of the world.

Jon Cheney 31:30
If those stores don’t innovate, and they keep their style, if they keep selling clothes the same way they have in the last 30 years, then yeah, definitely. Then they’re going to fall and we see retail companies falling every single day. An interesting stat, about 9% of products purchased in-store returned about 30 depending on the product, it’s anywhere from 15 10 to 40% really are returned online right? Overall the average is 30% online there will be $1 trillion of products returned in 2020. And so that’s a huge waste there’s so much money lost so much market cap lost due to returns. And so that means that the in-store experience still is substantially better because people are able to go there and get what they want right then and there, which is really cool, but they’re going to have to make shopping and experience there has to be a reason you’re going to go through the like if I want to get the best buy, it’s 20 minutes for me, right? That’s not bad, right? If you consider you know, the past to drive 20 minutes to get to Best Buy and buy a TV and have a good experience and have the Geek Squad there to answer your question for me like it’s awesome, right? I can do it. But that’s 40 minutes, just driving and probably 3040 minutes in a store. You know, so we’re talking an hour and a half of my day when I could just jump on Amazon and be like, talk TVs at 55 inches.

Eric Stopper 33:06
Boom, augmented reality on my wall.

Jon Cheney 33:08
Yeah, it’s done. I’ve shot it found my answer. Let me see that. Yep, that is the size I want. Now maybe it’s too small 65 or order it’s done

Eric Stopper 33:16
is augmented, have you? Have you seen that the use of AR in decreases return rates?

Jon Cheney 33:22
Absolutely, by about 25%

Eric Stopper 33:24
Holy smokes 25% of the 40% that are returned. So I mean, we were talking about 250 billion dollars saved if people

Jon Cheney 33:34
get 100%. If we had 100% penetration, then just augmented reality alone will save the world 250 billion dollars.

Eric Stopper 33:43
I mean, I want to see some studies on that. I’m a data nerd. I want to dig into the details but maybe not our listeners for this time around. Now seek is a is customer experience. Company project right, this kind of new coalition

Jon Cheney 34:00
What’s on the horizon? Tell me what’s new. Tell me what you guys are coming out with. Beyond the augmented reality projected products. Yeah. So so there’s different types of trackers that I talked about, you know, hand face foot, stuff like that, that’s going to, you know, ultimately want people to be able to visualize really well. The next step is being able to talk to your shopping experience and have it be very natural. So but also having augmented reality in there as well, right. So it could be as simple as I mean, and this is going to be especially important and not even, not even just important, but required, as soon as glasses are a thing, right? So let’s say you’re wearing your Apple glasses, and you walk into your living room and you say, okay, overstock, I need a new couch. Right? You look around, and overstock says great, let me see your room. So you look around and you just you know, you let overstock scan it. And so what it’s going to do there is it’s going to use visual search and AI To understand what your room looks like, right now, what colors are you using? are using hard edges? soft edges? Do you have blinds you have paintings on the wall, like what’s going on, it’s going to try to figure out who you are. And what your style is and what you’re looking for. And, and so and so overstock says, Okay, here, here are a few recommendations, right? And so it then has to be able to do a visual search and understand its inventory and be able to check out you know, what’s, what’s gonna look good here, or maybe what’s something that’s a little edgy, that might start pushing them in a different direction, you know, and so you can but being able to have the overstock, you know, room building experience, understand your needs and be able to work with you is going to require AI, visual search, augmented reality, natural language processing, and all of those things working hand in hand, or in tandem really, to say, okay, we think you’re going to like this couch. What do you think and you say, I know just always show me something else. Okay, I like that one. Show me that in brown leather. Okay, that’s good. Change the configuration to this way. Right? Okay, that fits. It looks good. Okay, go ahead and ship that to me Overstock. Right? Oh, that type of experience is how you will shop in the future. I don’t know if that’s five years or 10 years, or 15 years from now, but you will absolutely be going through those types of experiences. And so seek is working on some of that. Another example of customer experience stuff that we’re using that we can use 3d and augmented reality for is, I can’t share who it is. But there’s a big company that has retail stores, and they want to be able to more quickly iterate on the store itself and say, What if we move to this aisle over here? What if we move to these this side of the aisle? What if we did this and right now that’s a very physical manual process they have demo stores where you know, the VP will go down and say all right, well, let’s move this around and then you know, the workers will get to work and Sarah come back in a few days and we’ll have it ready for you. And so it can be of several weeks or several months process to get to a new store design or to a new layout or to test with something going to look like or to test flow. And, and so, you know, they came to us and said, Hey, can you just build us a huge video wall that our VP could just stand in front of and, you know, using hand gestures or swiping or, or an iPad controller? can we, you know, change the entire store right here live using the same types of assets that we’re creating, and then be able to just send a floor plan that’s approved in hours instead of days or weeks or months.

Eric Stopper 37:26
You know, I’ve, I’ve always, I’ve always thought like I’m a DIY or I’m a builder, studied engineering. I walk into Home Depot, right? And the one thing that I can never find in Home Depot is anybody that works there, right? So for sure, I’ve always wanted to just be able to say like, hey, Home Depot app, take me to the wood screws and then it augments reality like paints a path.

Jon Cheney 37:54
It does that.

Eric Stopper 37:55
It does that Now

Jon Cheney 37:56
does that now Home Depot is one of the companies that is really ahead in This space, and at least in some stores, it will do that exact thing. It will show a drawn arrow. And you just follow the arrow and take you right to the product.

Eric Stopper 38:08
Oh my goodness, I love the future. So so this is there. So you guys are Yeah, the present. I love the present. So. So that’s, that’s one of the products that you’re working on is the integration with these glasses. What else, right? are you targeting other industries outside of kind of products? and retail? are you targeting education, for instance, right? Like, I want to put the best teachers statistically in front of my inner-city kids who may not have access to a teacher that’s paid enough? What if everybody can throw on some glasses and the teacher has some glasses and can interact with these students? Like, are you tackling stuff like that?

Jon Cheney 38:46
So what you’re talking about is a little bit like a telecommuting type thing, almost just a little more advanced. Right? What I would like to see in that regard, if you really want to have visiting teachers that are doing that, you know, let’s do it. Let’s do a hologram. Right, let’s actually check them in In the room and let them be there. And now you have the best teacher in the world that knows how to teach, you know, algebra, you know, some concept really, really well and they can do it for millions of people simultaneously or potentially on demand, right? I mean, that’s, that’s pretty dang cool. We are actually launching a Sikh education product of this year that isn’t doing that specifically it’s a little bit it’s maybe a few steps back from it but I think equally is useful you know, I don’t know if you remember I know that I hated science was not my thing right? love math. Good English was good everything to science it’s never really was super exciting to me now. It’s actually really exciting. I’d love to be a doctor I’m you know, I’ve watched enough Grey’s Anatomy episodes I think the surgery and do all right, get most the way there. But, you know, learning about like the cell right in the nucleus and being able, if I could have seen that in front of me instantly. Bass, right and so that I could spin it around and look at it and go inside it and be like, okay, that’s where this thing is. And that’s where this thing is. And wow, the nucleus really is that big in comparison to everything else, you know, whatever, right? Like being able to, to visualize the human skeleton, the solar system, dinosaur bones, whatever, right in front of you as if you had, you know, models of all of those things, right? Any student, or teacher or parent or anybody, for a few bucks a month is going to be able to essentially subscribe, think about almost like Netflix, for augmented reality education, right, you pay a few bucks a month, and you’ll have access to thousands of different models of all types of different things that will let you engage with the world in a little bit different way and engage with learning for you know, hey, let’s see, let’s see what the pyramids looked like how big were they? And literally, you can spawn that and push it out on you can walk outside and say there’s the Great Pyramid that’s how big it is. Right? I mean, you could just show something like that. And you could show something as small as a, as a hydrogen bond, right? You know, yeah, on a view and be able to manipulate and play with it and, and understand how it’s actually structurally built.

Eric Stopper 41:13
And then eventually, here’s, you know, the teacher says, here’s a hologram of Charles Darwin to come and explain his theory of evolution. And Charles Darwin walks in and teaches these kids.

Jon Cheney 41:24
Oh, I have to mention one thing I saw at CES about that there was this company, they should tell you what it’s called. If, like, if I can find it right here on my phone, I’m talking about it, but it was basically a projection. Yeah, here it is. And I wish again, this is a podcast, so I can’t really show it but it was a projection of a person. That was not real. But that looks so real. You can’t even tell the difference. That is not a real person. If you could see that, Eric. That’s a video that I do. took at CES. And these are fake people that write this. They were just, you know invented. But when you look at them, you cannot tell that they’re not a real person. And so because of that, if we have paintings and things of what Christopher Columbus looked like, we right could have him walk in the room and tell us about his voyage across the sea.

Eric Stopper 42:24
I did a project in fourth grade where I it was like a wax museum. Hmm. Where I played Francis Scott Key, right? Then, the writer of the Star-Spangled Banner, yeah. And I sat there frozen, and someone would have to come and touch me. And then I’d give the spiel. I imagine a world wherein fourth grade, my kid is able to go and generate a Francis Scott Key, you know, augmented reality hologram for everybody for his school project. Yeah. I think and for everybody listening right like, and especially if Those who are really concerned about privacy and all these kinds of things, just visualize the future for a second and, and understand that the far-reaching implications of what this will mean for our kids and for our society as a whole. There’s a great, there’s a great article and I’ll and I’ll shamelessly point people to the seek xR comm I believe is your website. But there’s an article in there where you talk about how augmented reality is it can benefit, our, like, our impact on the planet, and how not going to Best Buy for an hour and a half, essentially cuts down the fumes that you would have spent on your vehicle, right to go and make that drive and everything. And so the impact of all of these things is so much greater than, than just the fact that we can sell more products to people it is it’s going to impact our society in ways that we cannot even imagine. And it sounds like you’re on the forefront of that.

Jon Cheney 43:56
I mean, if we could reduce returns by 25% across the board. Do you know where most of those product returns go to?

Eric Stopper 44:03
Hopefully not the trash?

Jon Cheney 44:04
Yeah, landfill, most of it goes to landfills. Right? There’s a huge amount of products that just they can’t sell again, it’s been open, it’s broken. People don’t want to buy something that’s been touched and messed with. And so they’re just like, you know, it’s $40 for us to create a new one. And it’s $60 for us to manage, you know, getting it back you know, getting it back to a shape where we can sell it again so toss it right I mean, it’s absolutely ridiculous should go to charity or sorry,

Eric Stopper 44:32
yeah, donate it to just a pool mill. I mean,

Jon Cheney 44:36
there’s got to be better ways to deal with that from and my perspective but reducing that wastes and going back and forth as I talk to people all the time, I’m talking about like, yeah, you know, if I don’t know which TV I want, let’s buy both of them. I’m gonna return one right and so you know, talk about impacting the planet if you want to take that approach. Yeah, now we have to deliver guys are gonna have to deal with a system and that second TV literally We might end up in landfill, it might be broken in transit because you didn’t pack it up, right. And the stores gonna lose money now trying to try to get back their margins on whatever right. The point is, it’s there’s major, there are major impacts on the world, for instance. Yeah,

Eric Stopper 45:17
I mean, I think let me do a return and allocate 50% of what I spent on the product to my charitable contributions for the year for my taxes, right? Like make it a benefit for everybody involved, incentivize, you know, like, donate to charity return or, you know, send it back to the person return you know, like we should have a choice in that. Jon, where do I send people to get involved to get in contact with you to help steer this the future forward?

Jon Cheney 45:50
Yeah, I know if they want I mean, if they want to reach out to me directly, they’re welcome to they can email me at Jonj. n. At seek xR comm or they can go direct To seek extra.com and get in touch with somebody whether that’s me or some sales rep that might end up getting a lead on there. It should be pretty obvious. I think we have enough contact as buttons to fill. Oh, so you should be able to get in contact with us. But again, if you have something, some question directed for me, feel free to reach out directly.

Eric Stopper 46:19
Awesome. Jon, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Jon Cheney 46:22
Thank you.

Eric Stopper 46:24
Thanks for listening to the buy box experts podcast, be sure to click subscribe, check us out on the web, and we’ll see you next time.