Bellevue-based Point Inside looks for international expansion

After being named the Eastside Business Award’s Business of the Year, Bellevue-based Point Inside isn’t resting on its laurels.

Josh Marti, Point Inside’s Chief Executive Officer, said the software-as-a-service (commonly called SaaS in the industry) company was gearing up to work even closer with major retailers.

“Every given week there are between 400 and 1,400 different deals that come online for a retailer,” Marti said. “That’s difficult to navigate for a retailer. We can look at your search history and shopping list and find you what you’re looking for. We don’t take just one input, we use machine learning to customize the experience.”

Point Inside uses its “StoreMode” software to pinpoint where things are in the store, making efficient use of shopping time.

“We noticed stores were facing two basic problems from their customers,” Marti said. “1. Do you have it? 2. Where can I find it?”

Point Inside started as an exclusive indoor mapping tool in 2009. The commercial possibilities soon emerged, and by 2012, the company had shifted to mapping for box stores such as Lowe’s. Recently the software has begun working its way into malls and airports, more complex, multi-faceted retail experiences than a single box store.

“There’s been a decline in retail foot traffic, and retailers are looking for a way to engage shoppers.”

He said that although online shopping is a massive market, for legacy stores, at least 90 percent of their sales are in-store.

“More than 68 percent of considered purchases start online,” Marti said. “Shopping has blurred between digital and physical. We are trying to help facilitate communication between those two worlds.”

In addition to the shopping experience, some retailers are using front-facing cameras to pinpoint where the customer is in the store to better guide them to what’s on their list. That software is called Blue Dot because a blue dot shows up on the store’s map representing you, the consumer.

If all this sounds a bit … invasive, Marti says he understands, but that his company takes significant privacy measures to make sure no one can use your information without your express approval.

“We believe in straight anonymity,” he said. “We reduce it all to numbers so no personal information is identified. We are big believers in privacy. There is no way to identify you or have contact information.”

Even the location information for Blue Dot and StoreMode is encrypted so it can’t be viewed by third parties. The company is also seeking expansion to the European Union, which has much stricter privacy requirements than the United States, so Marti said they have to meet all of those across all platforms before they can launch.

Point Inside employs 85 at City Center Bellevue on 108th Avenue Northeast.

Winning the Eastside Business Award was a welcome surprise, Marti said.

“We’ve been nominated a few times,” he said. “But we’ve always been a bridesmaid, never a bride.”