Online shopping has increasingly become the preferred choice amongst shoppers. The convenience of browsing the clothing options at your own speed to the comfort of your home, is what makes it enticing to many. All that is required is the shopper’s choice of electronic device (laptop, phone or tablet), an internet connection and a bank card.
However, a concern for online shoppers is the risk they take in not being able to “try before they buy”. The shopper has limited ability to anticipate the colour, size or style of clothing which leads to a high return rate on online items.
Innovators, Belinda Scott and Crystal McGregor, saw an opportunity to make online shopping more efficient for shoppers and retailers. Combining over 35 years of experience with start-ups and founders of multiple businesses, Belinda and Crystal came together to design and create Puctto. Puctto is a brand new digital platform to improve the online shopping experience for shoppers by allowing them to “try on” any outfit before adding it to their cart.
Puctto allows shoppers to upload a photo of themselves to create their own virtual change room. The software then allows shoppers to drag and drop individual items or outfits from their favourite online stores. They can share their virtual outfit with friends to help decide if they should purchase the outfit or not.
“I wanted to be able to visual clothes on myself, rather than on the retailer’s model,” Belinda said.
“I had prototypes of the idea in the past, but the technology and users are now finally ready for it,” she added.
Puctto also has retailers’ best interests in mind too. The key area where retailers have collectively struggled is in converting shoppers from the cart to check out. According to the data Puctto has collected from retailers, cart abandonment is over 65% and item returns over 30%. One of the reasons for checkout drop-offs are that the shoppers are not confident enough to purchase clothing if they cannot visualise themselves in the clothing they have selected.
THE NEED FOR PROTECTION
With such a valuable concept in a highly competitive space, Belinda and Crystal knew they needed to protect their brand and idea. They started to notice similar yet different software being developed in the industry. With the vast changes and alterations their own software had gone through, they knew there may be crossovers in the future with their competitors.
When pitching the concept around, Belinda also received feedback from potential investors to make sure the idea could be protected and was not infringing on existing patents.
“Investors like knowing that there are patents and trade marks in place to protect the idea and brand. Investors are not going to invest in any idea or brand that isn’t protected. Having protection also shows investors that you are serious and willing to back yourself,” Belinda explained.
After receiving the early feedback, Belinda sort a referral from her legal advisor and was referred to Ewen from Wynnes. Belinda expected the patent protection process to be somewhat complicated but was relieved to have Ewen sit with her and explain the process without the use of legal jargon.
“Ewen just made the process easy. He explained things well and it wasn’t too complicated to understand,” Belinda explained.
After the initial consultation, Belinda and Crystal were confident with the patent protection process and the advice she had received. Knowing their idea needed to gain traction in the domestic market first, they obtained protection of their idea through patents and trade marks.
In addition to the IP protection services she received, Belinda drew from the enthusiasm of the Wynnes culture, explaining, “Everyone at Wynnes are so supportive and always seem to be excited about the idea and any updates we have.”
Crystal added, “It was more than just being our Patent Attorney. We developed more of a family connection with Ewen and the Wynnes team.”
THE JOURNEY SO FAR
After successfully obtaining protection, the team at Puctto have been able to present their software face-to-face with retailers, industry representatives and investors. Building on the feedback they were able to improve the Puctto platform to be more user-friendly for both retailers and shoppers.
Crystal and Belinda admit that the feedback they have received has been integral to the continued development of the app.
“The response we have had so far has been great. The most important part is that we’re actively working with retailers and shoppers to get every piece right,” Crystal said.
Puctto is now in the live testing phase. Retailers can download and install Puctto to their websites with a simple copy and paste code. Belinda and Crystal continue working closely with retailers to make it as easy as possible to integrate Puctto with ecommerce platforms.
With the live testing underway, it is now a matter of finding the best fit investors to help scale the Puctto platform nationally and internationally.
“We are building connections overseas, but we’re excited to be working with Australian retailers first,” Crystal said.
She added, “It is important to us to find the right investors. Like building any team, they have to be the right fit.”
The Puctto venture took a large step forward in development in September when they were awarded a place in the Turbo Traction Lab. This program was the first of its kind in the world, supporting Founders to gain global traction from day one. The program, worth $160,000 per start-up, is funded by the Australian Government in conjunction with Capital Pty Ltd and Rockhampton Regional Council.
Although there is still testing and tweaking to be finalised before launch, Puctto has already achieved what many innovators can only attempted in the industry. Bringing a virtual change room to shoppers and retailers is the leap in innovation that the industry has been searching for. Understanding how critical it was to protect the Puctto brand and innovation in such a competitive industry was an integral component in their early success.
When asked to offer advice to other innovators and businesses, Belinda and Crystal said, “Start the conversation with an IP professional now. It is so difficult in terms of how you word the information in your patent. We put a lot of unnecessary time in attempting to get the words and wireframe right. Wynnes advised that we had included too much detail in our draft and that we needed to simplify and broaden our patent, as we were limiting our protection.”
“It is important just to seek guidance on where to start, because no one really knows where to start. I wouldn’t even attempt to file a patent without an IP Attorney.”