MarketDial is the toolset that an offline retailer will need to do online quality testing.
Many online retailers use A/B testing to test changes to their sites before making those changes permanent. Ecommerce companies have plenty of tools to execute A/B testing, track customers and run analytics. However none of those tools exist for brick and mortar business owners who make up 90–95% of all retail (I know, right?!). In his previous consulting career, MarketDial cofounder Morgan Davis worked with a number of fast food chains. He remembers recommending that these chains test changes, then learning that almost universally the chain did not have any sort of method for testing those changes. So he and cofounder Johnny Stoddard, who also worked for years as a consultant, created an easy-to-use platform. “We saw a huge need in the market and we had a very clear picture in our head of what needed to be built,” Stoddard says. “We felt confident we could build something retailers could use.”
“MarketDial is the toolset that an offline retailer will need to do online quality testing,” Davis explains. So, if I’m the owner of a chain of convenience stores and I’m trying to decide if I should raise the price of hot dogs by 25 cents, I can use MarketDial to test the higher priced hot dogs in a number of my stores. MarketDial first integrates my store data, determines the characteristics of my chains, and the demographics of my shoppers. Then MarketDial asks a few straightforward questions. Once I’ve answered these questions, MarketDial will determine how many stores I should test my expensive hot dogs in, which specific stores I should test, which stores should serve as my control group, and how long my test should last.
Once I’ve implemented the higher priced hot dogs in my test stores and sold them for however long the test should last, MarketDial will analyze the results of my test and help me determine whether or not I should make all hot dogs in all stores 25 cents more. “We’re doing all of the hard math but presenting it to them in a very simple way,” Stoddard says.
It’s that simple presentation that sets MarketDial apart. The only other A/B testing product available to offline retailers requires a data scientist’s understanding of statistics. “[A/B testing] is a big enough pain that people are buying a terrible solution for a ton of money,” Davis says. “The other solution is just not built to be easy.” Davis and Stoddard explain that the retailers who have seen MarketDial love their product because it’s so easy to use.
“Over time we can begin to help retailers optimize business,” Davis says. Knowledge is power, after all, and MarketDial provides retailers the knowledge necessary to keep their business thriving.
Davis and Stoddard credit their investors, Kickstart Seed Fund (Davis’s previous employer), Peterson Partners, and a handful of others, for making MarketDial a possibility. MarketDial is meant for restaurants and retailers who operate on a massive scale. Deals with these clients are bigger and take a longer time to close, so the investment money has made it possible for MarketDial to get going. “It’s been great because we knew people with money. Fortunately that gives us a timeline to try it out and get it out the door.”
Davis and Stoddard also credit their previous manager, Meg Walter, with whom they worked with at Brainstorm many moons ago. “Meg has been the inspiration for our every success*,” Stoddard says. “The things we learned from her have served as a model not only for our business, but for how we live our entire lives**,” Davis adds.
*He never said this.
** Or this.
But we really did work together at Brainstorm, and watching these two start this company has made me feel like a mother bird watching her babies fly. I know. Barf.