William Hogben

CEO, FutureProof Retail

William Hogben is cofounder and CEO of FutureProof Retail. Prior to FutureProof William designed, developed and produced mobile apps. His first app was one of the 500 that launched the App Store. His apps have been featured in the New York Times, #1 in Entertainment, Best in Category at CES, and tweeted by Zuckerberg.

FutureProof Retail, started in 2013 by an experienced team of app developers (and impatient shoppers), brings a unique focus on ease of use to self-service systems.

The whole FutureProof team has deep experience in creating mobile & enterprise software applications. Our prior work experience includes the creation of branded mobile applications for Fortune 500 companies and sophisticated enterprise-class SAAS applications.

FutureProof Retail is a privately funded company with offices in New York. Our operations team is able to deploy locally to help your IT staff integrate your system.

  • Posted on: 05/01/2018

    Can retailers appeal to both ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ shoppers?

    Give the shoppers tools that put them in charge of the pace -- like mobile self scanning. Shoppers who are in a hurry will be grateful and the more traditional shoppers benefit too, from shorter lines at legacy checkouts.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2018

    What are retailers missing about building a workplace culture?

    One "bad" employee has more impact than 10 good ones, so focus on identifying and fixing those problems before you worry about the rest. You can't screen new hires perfectly, and people change as their lives change, so you're always going to have some team-members that do more harm than good. If you have petty tyrants in manager positions, or people who are consistently negative, or folks who deliberately bring down the people around them (whether they can help it or not) you need to intervene, and if they don't turn around, you need to isolate or remove them. The phrase "a few bad apples" ends with "spoils the bunch" after all, and it's absolutely true in the workplace.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2018

    Can food halls become retail’s new anchors?

    Everyone's gotta eat, and that includes shoppers too. The high turnover in booths at food halls is a feature, not a design flaw -- it keeps the place feeling fresh and ensures some new interest on subsequent visits. While food halls may not be "the" anchor, the concept of a single anchor is perhaps outdated. Adding food halls to public and/or retail spaces broadens their utility and makes them extra appealing for meeting a friend, a quick lunch break, etc. FYI the quotes about saturation and rents is based on New York City real estate and density, and are of limited value outside similar environments. In NYC, most people walk or use public transit -- and more people spend their days away from home, more people eat out, and it's more driven by proximity than planning.
  • Posted on: 04/02/2018

    Walgreens focuses on healthcare services in new store format

    The path to success is to be an indispensable stop for shoppers. Pharmacy guarantees a certain amount of traffic, and adding additional health services guarantees more.
  • Posted on: 03/26/2018

    Customers want to be left alone while shopping

    The amount of human attention shoppers want is based on the type of shopping. It takes real work -- mental overhead -- to interact with an associate no matter how helpful they are. It should come as no surprise that most people, most of the time, find it easier to be on their own. Sure, it might take a moment longer to find something or make a decision -- but you're doing it at your own pace without the social overhead of having a human helper.
  • Posted on: 03/20/2018

    Macy’s CEO discusses mobile checkouts and other planned changes

    Macy's is miles ahead of its competitors in digital and it may be the only department store to really survive this retail transition. Offering scan pay go is a major step forward and will help make their store attractive to the people who prefer shopping online because of the convenience. It's especially interesting that Macy's chose to build this capability in-house, rather than working with a company like ours. I hope they will see a lot of success with their solution and that maintaining a competitive mobile experience won't turn out to be a drain on their resources. Other retailers who are looking to compete with Macy's on mobile will find it's expensive -- a quick search of LinkedIn shows more than 50 employees at Macy's with "mobile" in their title.
  • Posted on: 03/16/2018

    Amazon/Whole Foods planning store pickup service from third-party retailers

    Broadly speaking, Amazon's experience with their online grocery business convinced them that many shoppers will be going to physical grocery stores for a long time to come. Since they can't bring grocery shoppers to online ordering, they're going to bring online ordering to grocery shopped. The stores will be distribution hubs and cut down on shipping costs, as people pick up their non-grocery purchases in the same trip they pick out their lettuce.
  • Posted on: 03/12/2018

    Will acquiring tech startups help Nordstrom boost its digital ops?

    For a big retailer acquiring a startup has many advantages over trying to put together an equivalently powerful internal team. For one thing, the startup comes as a full package WITH a mature product, while an internal team can take over a year to get well staffed and then they're going to be starting from nearly scratch. All told the value in Nordstrom acquiring startups is the years they save on getting their digital initiatives going, along with the customization and control they have over the outcomes. I would imagine it's very important not to try and force acquired development teams to adopt a retail operations and planning approach - the disciplines and pressures are too different, and it would risk spoiling the advantage they're trying to buy anyway.
  • Posted on: 03/06/2018

    Will all retailers soon go cashier-less?

    Retailers with three or more cashiers are unlikely to shut down all registers for some time -- rather they will keep a register so they can accept cash and handle the miscellaneous cases where full self-service is unavailable. The technology behind tracking shoppers and what they pick up IS highly scalable -- because it's based on machine learning the larger the scale, the bigger the training set and the higher the potential accuracy. Will AiFi outdo Amazon Go and Standard Cognition and Accel Robotics and the other vision-based checkout startups? Maybe -- it all depends on the accuracy they're able to demonstrate. Amazon's five years of development doesn't speak to the difficulty of the technology, more to the difficulty of identifying and closing the edge cases and gaps created by real-life shopper behavior. It's hard to predict whether AiFi or Amazon Go or the others will scale without understanding the accuracy of the system and the maximum density of shoppers -- at some point the shoppers themselves start occluding the cameras. Our original business plan at FutureProof Retail called for starting with a computer vision-based passive checkout experience, and we modified that to first start with a mobile self-scanning app -- to have the broadest range of compatibility and because ultimately, the retailer doesn't just want to increase convenience but also to get the shopper to engage with them digitally. Mobile self-scanning is likely to be the most broadly accessible and least disruptive installation because the customers bring all the hardware and it doesn't require the training that machine learning-based systems do.
  • Posted on: 03/05/2018

    Is AI the key to finding the right location, location, location?

    Yes, if the absolute best store location is the goal, then it is necessary to crunch a lot of data, but it is not sufficient. The big data crunching (note: I'm not saying AI because in this case, it's a bit of a stretch) is going to get you halfway, the human half is to put that in context with all the data that didn't get crunched.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2018

    What do shoppers want most?

    Shoppers want EASY -- anything that reduces the friction of purchase is going to help one retailer become a habit while others become a hindrance. Shoppers' expectations of convenience have been raised by eCommerce and more and more shoppers choose the path of least resistance.
  • Posted on: 02/16/2018

    For independent grocers, it’s innovate or die

    Independent grocers need to focus on getting their technology updated. The danger from big players like Amazon and Walmart comes from their ability to improve the customer experience with technology -- see Amazon Go and Walmart's upcoming mobile self scan and checkout systems. The added convenience of line free shopping from the big players is enough to counter the independent grocer's added personality and experiential benefits for busy shoppers, and if independents lose even a small number of their busiest shoppers to more convenient options, they will see significant losses. Independent grocers who double-down on avoiding technology and customer service will find that, conversely, they are providing an inferior service to those who offer technology focussed on convenience. Just as Amazon's 1 click checkout dominated eCommerce through convenience, letting customer checkout from their phones will dominate physical commerce through convenience. Independents who start now will enjoy the advantages of being seen as leaders and on top of technology, while those who start late will have already lost their busiest customers to competitors.
  • Posted on: 02/16/2018

    Walmart reimagines in-store shopping for mobile

    Walmart's mobile self scanning solution is available in more than 30 locations now, and this is the next step to rolling that out overall. When Walmart enables customers to truly check themselves out from their phones that will be a game changer -- and retailers who compete with Walmart will find that their customer experience is no longer superior!
  • Posted on: 02/08/2018

    What’s holding retailers back from making workforce investments?

    Retailers who invest more in staff need to see that pay out in increased productivity. Investing in staff retention and producing real career paths is only half of the puzzle -- retailers also need to invest in better training, tools and technology to empower their newly motivated staff.
  • Posted on: 02/08/2018

    Will Office Depot’s BizBox become the go-to place for SMBs?

    As the so called "entrepreneur/SMB customer" I can say that I want anything EXCEPT a consultative experience when I buy office supplies -- and the same for my team. Shoppers who are on the clock don't need hand holding, we need clarity, convenience and speed. BizBox sounds like it will do well as an alternative to Fedex/Kinkos and the UPS store in providing a last minute printing/shipping solution. It seems like the cat's out of the bag with Squarespace, Google Apps for Work, etc, and it'll be hard to make a premium on web design and computer help.

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