Turning raw data into retail insights
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Australian firm HIVERY has solved
business problems in the retail and
FMCG sectors in Australia, the US,
Japan and China using artificial
intelligence (AI), helping customers
generate ROI never seen before.
In 2014, HIVERY conducted an experiment with a
fleet of 60 vending machines in Newcastle to test the
ability of machine learning to optimise sales by
recommending changes to the product assortment
and space-to-sales ratio of available products.
Once the AI system was trained, it made
recommendations that were implemented for those
60 machines and, a few months later, the changes
had resulted in a 15 per cent increase in sales and
an 18 per cent reduction in restocking visits.
HIVERY Co-founder and Director Franki Chamaki
said the success of that trial for Coca-Cola Amatil
proved that there was a role for machine intelligence
to come in and augment human thinking by
harnessing the mass of data available to retail and
fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies.
‘The term “big data” was very popular in the early
2010s and while companies talked about ways to
leverage their data to inform business choices,
technology at the time failed to deliver practical
solutions,’ he said.
‘HIVERY is able to work with companies to design
solutions that better leverage their data and
generate a return on retail investment space by
implementing AI-generated recommendations on
product assortment, price, space and promotion.’
The company grew out of a hackathon that brought
together entrepreneurs Franki Chamaki and Jason
Hosking with data scientists Charles Gretton,
Matthew Robards and Menkes van den Briel.
Chamaki said that the HIVERY platform consisted of
three main frameworks – AI (more specifically
machine learning), operations research and humancentred
‘These elements combine to create AI solutions that
are smart, easy to use and operationally effective,’
‘Significant opportunities exist for companies to
make better use of their data, and our platform can
apply analysis to optimise product mix, pricing
formulae and retail space with a level of
personalisation that is impossible to achieve without
‘We call it creating a “fingerprint” recommendation at
an outlet or individual vending machine level.’
HIVERY has built much of its intellectual property (IP) through an
engagement with The Coca-Cola Company, which has allowed it to engage with
real industry problems and has resulted in a collection of beverage data
that is potentially the largest in the world.
‘This means our AI algorithm has been learning from the best and most
extensive datasets in the world, making our self-learning algorithm very
accurate and novel,’ Chamaki said.
‘The Coca-Cola Company has been a great investor, customer and business
partner, which has helped us scale and expand our operation in the retail
and FMCG space globally.’
The company’s second investor and research partner is Data61, CSIRO's data
research group, which contributed the original technology IP that HIVERY
continues to develop and apply to real-world market solutions.
The retail and FMCG space is HIVERY’s current focus, which means aggressive
expansion into international markets.
Chamaki said the company had active engagements in Japan, the USA and
China, and was exploring Europe and Latin America through other sales
representative and distribution-type relationships.
‘The culture differs from market to market but our AI applications are
universal – we are solving the same problem, which is to help our customers
generate ROI never seen before,’ he said.
‘Our first interactions with customers tend to be education-related
conversations and demonstrations of how AI works and why it’s different to
the way human minds approach problem solving.’
A self-learning ‘machine construct’ looks at data without the assumptions that colour human problem-solving approaches, and can generate new solutions to business challenges because it isn’t influenced by these underlying unconscious biases.
Inventing the future
The staff at HIVERY first heard about the Export Market Development Grant (EMDG) while attending startup sessions and, in addition, from their accountant.
Chamaki said EMDG had been of enormous help to reduce risk in marketing and sales efforts in Japan and the USA.
‘It gave us the confidence to expand overseas, which helped us secure a lot of international business, to the point that about 80 percent of our revenue is now coming from international sources,’ he said.
‘Working with an Austrade-authorised consultant made the process very clear and helped us prepare our documentation, receipts and travel itinerary with rigour.’
‘All in all, what impressed us with the process is Austrade’s genuine effort to help Aussie company succeed internationally.’
With HIVERY solutions generating ROI of (on average) six-and-a-half weeks, the company is garnering some attention, being named a Sydney startup to watch two years running by tech industry publication The Martec.
The team is continuing to develop new FMCG and retail AI solutions in Australia for commercialisation and export, something they hope to model successfully for other Australian entrepreneurs.
The success of Australia in international markets is one of the drivers behind the HIVERY team, with a desire to bring other Australian companies in the tech space along with them, Chamaki said.
‘The biggest thing for us is that we are proudly an Australian AI company and we want to be an example of the way Australian intellectual investment can achieve overseas,’ he said.
‘We need to be a clever country and be leaders in intellectual investment, providing support for startups who push the envelope in technology, and moving away from our reliance on our natural resources as the nation’s key export.’
HIVERY staff demonstrate the AI technology