Before partaking in a panel on Retail Tech Strategies for 2019, EVERY CEO and co-founder John Wantz speaks to PSFK about benefiting retailers and shoppers alike with a virtual wallet that empowers shoppers to monetize their own data while enabling brands to foster direct connections with customers

If brands want to exist in the future beyond licensing their IP to Amazon, they must act now, says John Wantz, CEO and co-founder of blockchain-based virtual wallet and rewards program EVERY. For the first time, he continues, there is a clear opportunity within retail for brands to have a direct relationship with the shoppers whom they are longing to engage and understand.

EVERY aims to enable this by acting as the first decentralized digital wallet and loyalty rewards program that empowers shoppers to own their personal data and get paid for it every time they share it with their favorite brands. Ahead of speaking on the panel Retail Tech Strategies For 2019, part of New York Retail Innovation Week, John caught up with PSFK to share insights on where ecommerce is headed, blockchain and AI disruption, and how he believes that the future of consumer commerce will be won by ending the disintermediation of brands and shoppers and promoting free data exchanges.

What are the consumer and retailer trends influencing EVERY, and how does it leverage or respond to how people shop today?

Today, retail is totally consumed by Amazon. This global trend is putting branded manufacturers and retailers in a tough spot in attracting, retaining and knowing shoppers. The free market has incentivized firms to centralize, control and dis-intermediate the shoppers and brands looking to connect with each other as much as possible.

Meanwhile, other market leaders are independently motivated to keep data about shoppers trapped within their ad platforms, social channels and marketplaces. In short, platforms like Amazon have monopolized both brand and shopper data to an extent never seen before and this is having a major impact on brands’ ability to survive outside of Amazon.

Was this a major motivator for you to start EVERY? Were there other goals you wanted to achieve?

In developing EVERY, we were driven mainly by a deep desire to create a platform that would finally empower shoppers to be able to own, control and monetize their personal data within retail.

Outwardly, this paradigm might seem totally shopper-focused, but it actually serves both sides equally. Shoppers get to control who has access to their most personal, verified and insightful data and get paid for it when they share it. Brands—which are constantly seeking ways to obtain meaningful insights about their shoppers and use them to provide better products & services—finally have a simple retail data marketplace through which to obtain verified, actionable shopper data directly from their actual shoppers.

While most marketing platforms claim to focus on the consumer, most ventures are strategically feeding off of the margin of the supply side (brands). The amount of market value that has been built at the expense of brands’ margins is devastating. Incentivizing shoppers with rewards from brands they visit, we see as a material place to start in the recapturing of personal data.

From there, our roadmap to give access to what they think of as ‘first party’ data to unlock loyalty, insights and ads without losing the relationship with the Shopper is the framework of the marketing stack we’re building today. Basically, we intend to future-proof the brand and shopper relationship.

Retail is continuing to undergo transformation as ecommerce and in-store consumer behavior evolves and technology improves. How does EVERY cater to this new world of retail that is increasingly personalized, consumer-centric and experience-driven?

The EVERY wallet is driven by surveys, polls and other easy and fun experiences that help populate a shopper’s wallet with loads of verified personal data, that, once shared with brands in return for loyalty rewards, we’re able to move into our unified marketing stack for brands. We spend a lot of time thinking about the cross-channel needs brands have to be more than transactional with shoppers and to know more about full-funnel activity. We aim to support discovery through conversion and repeat engagement.

In addition to the hundreds of brands using our loyalty wallet on their direct-to-consumer sites today, we have several brands now piloting our loyalty wallet within their POS/in-store experiences. Early next year, we will be launching our iOS loyalty wallet for shoppers which we think will unlock some interesting use cases for in-store conversions via mobile.

You offer consumers the chance to control and monetize their own data, turning a once controversial commodity into an open asset. How do you hope this will benefit and empower consumers?

We think big when it comes to the opportunity for people to own and control their data, and that starts with governance. We’ve embedded these policies and data governance principles into the structure of our company and within our technology in order to protect perpetual personal ownership and control of data.

While big questions around data ownership have been triggered by repeat data breaches and the mishandling of our personal data by big companies in general, I often pause to recalibrate the market optics and excitement of personal data ownership against the readiness for people to change the way they use technology. We’re working hard on coming to market with familiar experiences and rewards to slowly move users into the driver seat to take control of their data.

We don’t know what our geodata, historical purchases or our sociodemographic data is actually worth right now. Our enabling of brands to ‘bid’ for shopper data—specifically within retail use cases—will help to normalize the fair market pricing and long-term value growth for our data-sets as shoppers and help us understand exactly what our personal proprietary data is worth and consistently monetize it accordingly.

Your platform is blockchain based. Could you explain the advantages of this?

In short, security and transparency for both brands and shoppers. If shopper wallet data was sitting on our servers it would be controlled by us. EVERY doesn't ‘host’ or ‘own’ shopper data, as it’s stored in the Wallet. I’ve traveled the globe meeting with and surveying the premiere blockchain platforms and have developed the belief and commitment that using a decentralized infrastructure to house shopper data—where shoppers control and own their data—is the only way to back the market promise we’re delivering against.

What do you hope to share at your NYRIW panel?

Blockchain isn’t weird or exotic. There is a clear opportunity within retail for brands to—for the first time—have a direct relationship with the shoppers they are longing to engage and understand via the simple implementation of this technology.

If brands want to exist in the future beyond licensing their IP to Amazon, they must act now.

What’s in store for the future of EVERY? Anything you can share?

Early next year, EVERY will be launching a shopper-focused iOS app that will aggregate all of the great rewards our Brands have to offer. It’ll be a fun app where you earn rewards for sharing data about who you are with some great, curated brands for some very attractive rewards. Also, EVERY will be launching; ‘ADs’ in Q1. We believe that the same opportunity to remove the middlemen from the brand/shopper relationship exists for the brand/publisher relationship. The same level of transparency and direct relationships between brands and publishers will provide better economics, increased trust and rewards for shoppers as their data is moved downstream into full-funnel marketing.


For more from John, come see him speak at a panel on Retail Tech Strategies For 2019, part of New York Retail Innovation Week, where speakers will discuss some of the biggest consumer shifts driving the need for tech innovation in retail, as well as what strategies brands can employ to best meet those demands. Tickets available now!

Lead image: contactless payment smartphone stock photo from DGLPhotos/Shutterstock