SandStar, a startup once enrolled in Microsoft Accelerator Cohort 11, recently announced that it has officially become a Microsoft IP Co-Sell Partner. This means that the strategic partnership between the two companies will be further deepened.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – October 1, 2020 – (Newswire.com)
Microsoft’s IP Co-Sell initiative offers eligible partners the unique opportunity to reach more customers and accelerate revenue through Azure Marketplace and AppSource, Microsoft’s cloud storefronts. Launched globally in 2017, this initiative is designed to provide comprehensive sales and marketing support for certified partners, to let partners’ solutions efficiently match customers’ needs, so as to create a win-win situation for all three parties.
SandStar, a startup once enrolled in Microsoft Accelerator Beijing Cohort 11, recently announced that it has officially become a Microsoft IP Co-Sell Partner. This means that the strategic partnership between the two companies will be further deepened.
Being certified as a Microsoft IP Co-Sell Partner indicates the recognition of SandStar’s technologies and solutions by Microsoft.
It’s worth mentioning that this is not the first time for the two companies to collaborate with each other.
Back in 2018, SandStar was already enrolled in Microsoft Accelerator Beijing Cohort 11. Getting into the Microsoft Accelerator program was even harder than getting into Harvard. For Cohort 11, the enrollment rate was only 1.89%. SandStar stood out from many applicants to receive support and coaching from Microsoft in various areas. Thanks to the great support from Microsoft over the past two years, SandStar has been able to take root in the traditional retail industry faster and deeper, to empower business decision making with data solutions.
Focusing on empowering retail with AI, SandStar is embracing the growing demand overseas
Founded in 2016, SandStar has been focusing on AI+ retail. The company has three lines of offline products: the “grab & go” smart vending machines, the pure vision unmanned stores “costing just 1/20 of Amazon Go”, and the smart store analysis system “giving physical retail operations the wisdom of e-commerce”. All of them are based on cutting-edge computer vision technology to digitize all the elements involved in offline retail operations including people (customers), goods (merchandise), and facilities (stores and shops).
For Microsoft, they focus on the commercialization capabilities to examine the potential IP Co-Sell Partners. The performance of SandStar in this regard is very remarkable too: Over the past four years, after it was founded, SandStar has commercially deployed its products in 12 countries and regions around the globe, serving 20+ Fortune 500 companies including Coca-Cola, Sinopec, and Wanda. In the first half of 2020, despite COVID-19, the North America team of SandStar has still managed to win orders for several thousand smart vending machines to be delivered in the next 24 months.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the demand for contactless shopping has been growing. SandStar’s marketing head says that the company’s website alone would receive inquiries from more than 30 overseas customers each week on average. This might be because people have to be prepared to live with COVID-19 for a very long time, and as such, their requirement for safe shopping is also increased. The convenient and safe shopping experience of SandStar’s smart vending machines would not be possible with all the technologies in the past.
With a smart vending machine, for example, you don’t have to pay first and then choose what you want, take your purchase, and leave, as you would normally do with a traditional vending machine; instead, you just need to scan a code to open the door, take your purchase, close the door, and leave, as the payment is made automatically. The shopping process is shorter and more efficient and gives you a bigger freedom as well. And what makes this possible is SandStar’s computer vision-based recognition technology, which enables the company’s AI-based smart vending machines to have a 99% accuracy rate.
Helping retailers lower costs and increase efficiency through digital operations
“The number of orders received determines whether your solution is good,” said a man from SandStar’s project team. “Customers value SandStar’s products and technologies not only because of the convenient and safe user experience but also, more importantly, because of the visible benefits that our solutions can deliver for them at the business level.”
All the solutions of SandStar are based on computer vision as their core technology. What is seen by cameras including merchandise, people and their shopping behaviors is converted into data and collected, which will then be analyzed and processed by the system as big data. This means that SandStar’s solutions are born with the digital DNA, so they can help physical retailers obtain the digital wisdom to operate like e-tailers, to help them make business decisions, to lower costs and increase efficiency.
For example, both the space utilization rate and the restocking efficiency of SandStar’s smart vending machines based on dynamic vision recognition are significantly higher than those offered by other solutions. They can help retailers increase sales by about 30%. In addition, the shopping behavior data collected based on dynamic vision recognition, after being processed and analyzed, can also be used to make more decision-making recommendations on strategies for product selection or location selection, and a better product selection strategy, location selection strategy or pricing strategy can increase sales by about 20%.
The new partnership with Microsoft will enable SandStar to leverage Microsoft’s channels and resources around the world to further tap into global opportunities and accelerate its overseas expansion.
Meanwhile, SandStar and Microsoft Cloud have been working together for a long time too. Microsoft is one of the largest cloud computing companies in the world. When deploying its solutions in dozens of countries around the world, SandStar leveraged the powerful support of Microsoft’s cloud platform and also provided the most comprehensive security protection for customers.
In the future, SandStar will team up with Microsoft to continue to help retailers drive the digitization of their stores. We’ll combine our AI+ retail solutions with Microsoft’s mature cloud platform services to improve customer experience and set a benchmark for digital retail.
Founded in 2016, SandStar already has 200+ geeks today, with headquarters in both Charlotte, North Carolina and Beijing, China. SandStar provides AI-based smart vending machines, the pure vision unmanned stores and the smart store analysis solution for retailers. Serving 20+ leading Fortune 500 companies, SandStar is set to create a new ecosystem of AI+ retail.
SandStar has received investments from renowned investors, including the Charoen Pokphand Group (CP), one of the world’s largest conglomerates, through four funding rounds. For more information, visit www.sandstar.com.
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