The Story of Candibell
Shopping without shopping
by Eric Huang
People often ask: what's the spark, what is the impetus of Candibell? For me, it's all about seamless commerce and autonomous shopping - an experience that is beyond today's E-commerce 2.0 in which people have to constantly make conscious decisions on what and when to buy. Wouldn't it be great if our shopping items just arrive when we need them? To put it succinctly, it is about shopping without shopping.
Runners wear sport watches to track performance during a workout, such as calories burned, cadence, stride length, ground contact time, VO2 max etc. Sport watches do not generally measure these quantities directly. Rather, it estimates them by collecting movement data from a range of sensors such as accelerometers, compasses, gyroscopes and GPS. Running performance indices are then estimated using a complex mathematical model from these inputs.
By the same token, Candibell is designed to be an “activity tracker,” not for tracking your workout, but for all kinds of consumable goods at home. Candibell does not directly measure level of supply remaining, because that would require specific types of instruments for different products and the solution cannot scale up. Rather, Candibell analyzes your gestures and the movements of the target product during a consumption event, and then
estimates the supply remaining using a depletion model developed for that product. Your own model is unique to you, and is self-calibrating so that the more you use Candibell, the more accurate it becomes for your usage pattern and your own lifestyle.
I got it now. But what problem does Candibell solve for E-commerce?
The E-commerce industry has been focusing a lot of attention on making purchases and transactions faster, easier, and more accessible as can be seen from recent advancements in technology and business innovation in this area. Voice-commerce, Mobile-commerce, and a countless number of loyalty programs and subscription programs are becoming ubiquitous. Customers love new technologies and enjoy the perks and convenience. Merchants, on the other
hand, benefit when the innovations boost sales and increase customer loyalty, making their brand more visible.
Despite these benefits, in all of these models, the customer still bears the cognitive burden of purchasing and reordering. No matter how you are buying, on a laptop browser, on your mobile phone via a merchant app, or via a smart speaker, one needs to first realize that certain products are depleting, and then make the decision to reorder. All these existing technologies make the purchase experience better and faster, but they cannot
intelligently make the decision in your place to reorder at the most appropriate time. Therefore, you still have to remember to reorder something that you’re about to use up.
An increased number of subscription-based programs have been developed by merchants to address this problem. These programs restock customers at a defined time interval. Customers can "adjust“ their delivery schedule based on the products' actual consumption level. While this is certainly a significant first step towards a more intelligent and autonomous mode of shopping, it still suffers from a) mediocre accuracy due to a lack of the
individual's actual consumption information, and b) as a result, the programs is invariant to changes, and tend to deliver too late (supply gap) or too early (overstock). Unfortunately, a time-based subscription program that frequently requires customers to adjust their delivery schedules is no longer a subscription program. This inevitably calls for a more robust and effective program that is based on actual consumption.
Realizing these limitations and inspired by the working principle of the sport watch, we decided to launch Candibell. Candibell is an IoT-based service platform for commerce automation. We’ve set our vision beyond making transactions and purchases easy and more accessible – we want to automate reordering based on demand, not based on a pre-defined time schedule. We believe this is the future of E-commerce:
An autonomous experience that delivers at the perfect time, every time.
We conceptualized, designed, and prototyped, and we came up with a number of criteria for the right product that is likely to excel in the market. First, the sensor must be small. Solutions with a large footprint cannot be easily handled by the customer and is hard to adapt to different scenarios. Second, the solution must be very low cost, yet still provide superb sensing and feedback capability. Third, the solution must be generic and
compatible with different types of products as opposed to only one or two types. Finally, the product needs to be reliable and durable, and easy to use.
We arrived at a design which we believe satisfies these criteria. In this form factor, the Candibell sensor can be attached to bottles and packages of different sizes. The sensor is small and re-usable. It can be linked to different products and the Candibell server will use the correct model for this product to make a prediction, based on the specific customer's usage pattern. Candibell Sensors communicate with Candibell Hub via Bluetooth 5;
this allows us to build the sensor into a smaller form factor, and allow the sensor to work up to 2 years without replacing its battery.
The Candibell server is a service platform that is open to any merchants whose customers use Candibell to reorder its products. Merchants can specify products, define their consumption model, reserve Candibell equipment, manage orders received, and track real-time usage and estimates of products using the Candibell platform. These tasks can be completed in our merchant center portal, or via a set of RESTFul APIs. Integration can be done in as
little as 15 minutes. With Candibell, there is no change to your fulfillment process and order information is sent directly to you.