INVESTMENT NOTES

The psychology of shopping: why we invested in Humii

Investment led by
Sam Henderson
Written by
Company
Humii
Home
Sydney
,
NSW
Industry
eCommerce

“The exciting thing about the next 6 to 12 months is we feel anything is possible. We have some great logos and a bit of traction now, but we're all very keen to expand our offering and get under the skin of every retailer in the country.”

Mareile Osthus
Co-founder
,
Humii

For most of human history, we did Shopping 1.0.

Merchants bartered merrily with customers - selling, taking complaints, and observing the entire customer journey (which to be fair was walking into a shop > walking out of it).

Shopping 2.0 gave every shopkeeper a seat at the global marketplace. But it put oceans between them and their buyers.

Brands have been seeking a reconnection with actual, usable, human feedback ever since.

Feeble tools like NPS have come and gone. Web tools (Hotjar, Glew, Glassbox, Medallia) offer drab data - bounce rate, click-through rate, checkout completion rate.

Surveys offer binary insight - are you likely to return? Are you likely to recommend? Rate your experience on a scale and add anything else into a comments box… that’ll go unread and unsorted.

Humii is wading through the blurry big data to put product teams back in conversation with customers.

Taking the traditional mystery shopper strategy and mixing in a FOMO-driven acquisition model, it’s rapidly snapping up new business with an irresistible question: “wanna hear what people are saying about you?”.

Humii’s positioning among the competition - landing where real life human insight meets full lifecycle CX.

Meet the founders

Cofounder and CCO Mareile Osthus was previously Chief Category Officer at The Iconic, and Head of Buying at various high profile retail groups (Zalando, Hugo Boss).

“Having worked 15 years in ecommerce, I deeply understand the problem of getting unbiased feedback about CX. The NPS doesn't do a great job. In my exec meetings, we were literally guessing why the score dropped or improved. Sounds ridiculous, but it’s common.”

Andy Evans’ background is tech consulting (IBM, Deloitte), bringing a lifetime of learnings across problem/solution/technology into the fold.

Upon finding a dearth in the market for ecom SaaS tools that covered both offline and online CX, Andy recruited shoppers, sent them out, then pitched their findings to various retail leaders.

One was Mareile (then digital projects director at Alquemie Group). Mareile bought into the concept and the company, becoming the business dev engine to Andy’s tech and ops.

Meet the market

Acquisition costs are the marketing moan of the week… or year.

Google and Meta ad spends are through the roof. Retailers are paranoid about predatory undercutters like Shein and Temu eating their market share and driving marketing costs even higher. Margins are going down, acquisition costs are going up, and consumer confidence is hanging by a thread.

The marketers dilemma goes on and on - ever-changing customer expectations, low visibility on end-to-end online CX, little understanding of which CX challenge to tackle first… Andy says:

“Retailers should focus less on getting new customers to their site and more on getting the ones that are already on their site to convert.”

How? By doing what even the mightiest of analytics tools can’t: illuminating the why behind the what.

Meet the product

Humii’s acquisition strategy is almost devilish in its nature.

Humii “mystery shops” the paying brand (client 1) and a competitor brand (client 2) client 1 wants to benchmark against. Once the shop is complete (and paid for by client 1), Humii slides into client 2’s DMs (or emails, probably) with a tantalising “you’ve been mystery shopped… want to know the results?”.

Innovation in the business model really cracked the scalability code for Humii. Shifting away from salaried shopping staff, Humii uses a pay-per-task model.

Shoppers get paid on completion of a task, giving brands total flexibility of use, and significantly reducing the cost of access to this gold dust data.

As market share grows, costs of “competitor shops” are offset as more of the same competitors get shopped and convert to paying customers.

Across 8 dimensions (discovery to purchase to retention) and 200 data points, the qualitative feedback brands can uncover is gold. Things that simple quant data can’t tell them, like “the search bar needs a filter option”.

That’s not suggesting good old quant data doesn’t have a place - with a comparison tool telling users within a decimal place how they rank against their competitors.

Examples of feedback provided by Humii's mystery shoppers.

Super Retail Group’s Head of Experience says unveiling this “why” was the most high-value outcome of their two-year tenure with Humii so far. It isn’t just the data generated - it’s the way it helps brands understand it.

The customer base already features some impressive logos, including Asics, New Balance, Brooks Running, and Elite Supplements.

The big differentiator

Humii is not so much a feedback loop as a source of truth. Andy says:

“We envision a standardised global CX score that’s ingrained into every retail operation - a platform where companies can view multi-market data across all their territories, in a simple actionable way.”

This future global authority in customer experience is starting with retail, but the cross-industry vision is much broader. Mareile says:

“The exciting thing about the next 6 to 12 months is we feel anything is possible. We have some great logos and a bit of traction now, but we're all very keen to expand our offering and get under the skin of every retailer in the country.”
Humii’s competitor analysis and benchmarking tool in action.

On their choice to work with us, Mareile says:

“Skalata did not shy away from our (human-powered) model at any point. We spoke to a lot of other investors and there were some very inflexible mandates, and an incredible amount of drag and tag that we just did not get from Skalata. The conversations with Skalata felt simple, warm and relatable, and we reckon being amongst their team and portfolio is the best way to get us where we want to be.”

NPS is so old it predates online shopping. Reviews are biased. Millions of ad spend dollars are wasted as brands take shots in the dark at what customers want to see. As one client said pre-Humii, “we couldn’t see the forest for the trees”.

Humii is set to take us past Shopping 2.0, but reviving all the best features of 1.0: interaction, real-time qualitative feedback, and actual human insight.  

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