China’s e-commerce and logistics industry is among the most highly developed in the world, brick-and-mortar stores are still the first choice for many Chinese customers. While data from National Statistic Bureau show that the country’s annual online sales soared 33.3% in 2015, that figure represents a paltry 10.8 percent of overall retail sales.

These shoppers represent a wealth of consumer data that until now has gone largely unmapped.

Unlike e-commerce where retailers can access to a slew of tools to analyze and predict customer appetites, offline stores have really limited data guidance to optimize their services.

Meirenji, the winner of Technode’s Asia Hardware Battle held on Thursday, aims to solve this problem and bring more value to offline retailers. The Shenzhen-based startup is the manufacturer of M1, an easy-to-install indoor monitor. The product can cover a 2-meter shopfront entrance or an area of 40 square meters to capture data such as visitor traffic and average visit duration, says Ding Xiaogang, CEO and co-founder of the firm.

The company’s real value lies in its data analytics services, said Ding. Powered by a self-developed algorithm, the platform processes the crude data collected by the monitor to give storeowners a better overview of what happening in their stores. Together with the POS machine data, Meirenji produces analytics based on deal rate, visitor conversion rate, employee performance and a clear time curve based on deals.

Ding noted that they are planning to add more features to the hardware, like face-recognition, walk-by-traffic, and customer preference analysis. The service package is priced at 2,000RMB (309 USD) per store.

“We decided to make a hardware rather than using the existing cameras in stores because these cameras are highly reliant on a stable internet connection which most of the brick-and-mortar stores failed to provide. M1 has lower requirement for Wi-Fi presence with a local loading functionality.”

The startup now provides service to more than 5000 physical stores across the country. Meirenji is planning to work on data analytics for business circles based on data from different shops around a certain area. The company says they have completed a 12 million RMB of Series A financing.

This article is part of our coverage from Technode’s Asia Hardware Battle and China Bang Awards 2016 event held in Chengdu on March 30th-31st.

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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