Poq is a commerce platform for native retail apps. The SaaS platform enables over 30 retailers, including House of Fraser to deliver mobile apps across Android and iOS.

I asked Poq co-founders Øyvind Henriksen and Michael Langguth about the business and their plans for world domination...

What problems does it solve?

Øyvind: Traditional app development involves building apps the way that websites were built back in the 90s based on bespoke code. Many High Street retailers suffered under this. They invested in the development of bespoke apps, which initially looks good, but over time become very complex and costly to maintain.

Integrating new technology also becomes a very costly and time-consuming process, meaning that apps go out of date quickly. In many cases, these apps start crashing just because traffic is high.

The resulting pain is felt firstly by in-house teams, and is then very quickly picked up by customers through bad app store reviews. In the worst case, agency coded apps are out of date by the time they finally launch nine to 12 months later, because by that time there is a new operating system.

Two examples for this can be seen in Topshop’s huge number of negative app reviews and Debenhams even having to go so far as to take their app temporarily from the app store.

Michael: At Poq we created a revolutionary approach to deploying and managing native apps. We provide a platform upon which retailers can build innovative and super-fast omnichannel apps, and a content management system which allows for apps to be managed centrally from one system, without having to do native coding.

We also roll out new code every week, and perform quarterly platform updates, so the apps are never out of date. The platform architecture also allows for new technologies to be easily plugged in. This empowers retailers to create beautiful and stable apps which offer functionalities that fuse mobile and in-store with lower costs, fewer risks, and shorter implementation time.

Is this a crowded market?

Michael: Most of our competitors are app design agencies, focussing mainly on visual design and building apps on bespoke code. We work differently because we are a fully cloud based multi tenant platform for native retail apps, and we operate on a Software as a Service (SaaS) basis.

In the future all apps, and actually any software, will be part of an ecosystem of cloud based SaaS technologies that are connected through APIs. Website-based ecommerce has already adopted the SaaS approach as best practice. It is only a matter of time until it becomes the norm for mobile apps as well.

What are your goals?

Øyvind: Our goal is to provide software that empowers leading retailers to deliver world class shopping experiences, enabling them to forge deeper and more valuable relationships with their customers.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

Øyvind: We are constantly working on growing our customer base and innovating our offering. Our product has evolved remarkably since the launch of Poq, and we realised that we can’t work with everyone, as our solution is more geared towards enterprise-level retailers.

It is hard as we get most inbound interest from young entrepreneurs who love apps, and want an app for their business as well.

Michael: Another big roadblock is the idea of a lot of people believe that apps don’t offer an ROI, and that you should only launch an app if it has some special feature, as a PR stunt, so to speak.

This is one of the biggest myths in the industry. We know how much our clients are making on their app, which is often over 10% of their online revenue.

How will you make money?

Michael: We work on a SaaS basis and charge an annual subscription fee. We also plan to offer managed services such as design work, a managed launch service, and app consultancy.

Who is in your team?

Øyvind: Poq was founded by Michael, Jun Seki, and myself. We have grown to a team of 15 young and driven people. We have a developer team, client success team, sales team, and marketing team. Our advisory board also includes James Hart, ex-ASOS Director and Ivan Ramirez, the VP of Groupon.

Where would you like to be in one, three and five years’ time?

Michael: We are on track to become the market leader for retail apps in the UK. In the longer term, we aim to expand to Europe and the United States. We already have American and German retailer clients, but have not focused on these markets specifically yet.

Other than your own, what are your favourite websites/apps/tools?

Michael: Citymapper. Absolutely everyone in our office uses it. If you live in London or Manchester and you are not using this app, you deserve to miss the last bus :) Also, Azmat Yusuf, founder of Citymapper, was Oyvind’s mentor when he worked on Poq Studio as his Master thesis.

Jun: Spring features a great shoppable multibrand content feed with a slider to view multiple images. It’s only available in the US right now, but if you switch app stores you can check it out.

Øyvind: The ASOS app. Along with Amazon, it is one of the first UK apps to use touch ID fingerprint recognition to login to your account on the app. Spotify is also a team favourite. When working late, we love fighting about our team playlists using that app. 

Graham Charlton

Published 27 April, 2015 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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