We first met Thirdshelf back in 2013, when Dx3 was preparing to launch for the first time and co-founders Antoine, Rami and Steve were making a name for themselves with their big ideas about the future of retail. Only four years later (and four conferences together), we spoke to Antoine Azar, Co-founder and CTO to discuss their latest successes and why putting the customer first is integral to growing a business.
- Name: Thirdshelf
- Who We Chatted With: Antoine Azar, Co-Founder & CTO
- Team Size: 15
- Cities Active: ~400
Q: GIVE US YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH.
Antoine Azar: Thirdshelf is a cloud-based loyalty marketing platform for independent retailers. Through artificial intelligence, it allows merchants to easily deploy highly effective data-driven loyalty programs and marketing campaigns designed to automatically bring customers back in-store and increase transaction size.
Q: WHAT IS THE MOST EXCITING THING THAT HAS HAPPENED FOR THIRDSHELF SINCE ATTENDING Dx3?
Antoine Azar: So many things! The business grew almost 100x. We now serve retailers across the globe, and we’re close to counting 1M members enrolled in Thirdshelf-powered member programs. We’ve added POS partners to expand our customer base, and just announced a partnership with Star Micronics to allow millions of retailers to use our powerful analytics and better retain their customers.
Q: WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THAT GROWTH TO?
Antoine Azar: A very deep understanding and proximity to our customers. We attended Dx3 during our early days, and had the chance to meet many retailers and build relationships. We received invaluable feedback, and have used it to build a product that’s laser-focused on independent retailers’ needs. This drives every decision we take at Thirdshelf.
Q: ARE THERE ANY MAJOR CHALLENGES THAT COME ALONG WITH THAT?
Antoine Azar: Growth! We’re conscious that a business is only as good as the people it’s made of. We’re very picky when it comes to adding team members, and we want everyone to be as passionate about our mission as we are. We’ve been fortunate to find amazing teammates who work day and night to help our retailers be successful.
Q: HOW DID YOU/DO YOU PLAN ON OVERCOMING THAT?
Antoine Azar: We have very well defined processes to evaluate how we’re performing at every step of the company. Whether it’s technical development, support, customer success, sales or any other department, we track our metrics in a retailer-centric point of view, and we make sure we’re serving our customers the right way.
Q: WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU’VE SEEN IN THE INDUSTRY?
Antoine Azar: It’s amazing to see the transformation happening in retail. While brick and mortar used to have a “safe”position as a neighbourhood business, every store is not competing with online giants. For this reason, it’s more important than ever to build and nurture customer relationships. Those are the most valuable asset of any retailer. It’s not about transactions anymore, it’s about relationships. This is the exact transition we help our retailers make, and they see a immediate and long-lasting boost in their bottom line.
Q: WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU’VE SEEN IN THE TECHNOLOGY THAT’S DRIVING YOUR BUSINESS?
Antoine Azar: Cloud-based systems have made their way everywhere, and it has opened the door to amazing technology at the fingertips of the independent retailer. While giants were the only ones that could afford advanced analytics, AI and marketing automation just a few years ago, we’re now able to give some of the world’s most advanced technology to an independent retailer through our cloud platform, for a few dollars per month. It’s game-changing.
Q: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE ANOTHER STARTUP THAT IS A COUPLE OF YEARS BEHIND YOU GUYS?
Antoine Azar: Stay obsessed with your customers. Build a product that answers their needs, and then follow-up to make sure you’re customers are getting value. Customer success is probably the most important department at Thirdshelf. We measure our success by tracking the success of our retailers. We believe that’s the only way to build a startup the right way.