Spying on Stock: The Flagship Story | #220

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Simon talks business, family and his mission to get rid of the manual stocktake!

EP 220
Hosted by

Nathan Bush is a director at eCommerce talent agency, eSuite. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.


About your co-host: Simon Molnar from Flagship

Simon Molnar is the founder and CEO of Flagship, a brick-and-mortar retail data provider and experiential creator. With a background in retail, but also software engineering, data, marketing and operations, he has been able to help retailers create end-to-end solutions to fully enhance the customer experience and to ensure retail conversions, repeat purchases and customer stickiness. Formerly, Simon was the CEO of Ice Jewellery, Australia's largest online-only eCommerce jewellery retailer and has also been heavily involved in Afterpay both in digital marketing and data analytics.

You can contact Simon at LinkedIn

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Simon Molnar, Founder of Flagship.  Simon has retail blood flowing through his veins.  I wouldn’t mind being a fly on the wall at the dinner table in this family’s house I can tell you – it’s where the idea for Afterpay was first knocked about!  After taking his parents’ jewellery business online with great success, Simon founded Flagship, is a retail-focused tech company that uses bluetooth product stickers to give brick and mortar stores access to the kind of data and insights that eCommerce businesses have long enjoyed.  In this chat, Simon shares the story of how he went from selling Pandora to his school teacher to building one of Australia’s biggest online jewellery sites, why his biggest strength is also his greatest weakness and how his ultimate goal is to make manual stocktakes a thing of the past – now that would make him the most popular Molnar surely?!

“I had this inherent need to know what was going on in my site, and I want to create that same ability in store

Simon Molnar

Retail in the blood

“When I finished school, I started as a software engineer, then moved into digital marketing, then data, then got into Ice (Jewellery). Only a couple years really into Ice that I realized how much of that retail mindset that my parents instilled rubbed off for me. It took me a while to really understand like, “Okay, I’m actually a retailer.”

Sitting literally around this table that I’m sitting at right now, to be honest, there have been so many business conversations. Afterpay was ideated here, Ice was ideated. A lot of progressive conversations were had, the number of times, even the early days of Afterpay where I’d say to Nick, “Oh, you guys should do X, Y, and Z.” He’s like, “Yeah, that’s a great idea.” We’d duck off into the office and roll it out. 

It never felt laborious. It’s never felt like work. It’s just felt like fun and natural. I guess that’s one of the best things about what we’ve done is, at no point in my entire Ice or Flagship or even Afterpay journey, has it really ever felt like I was doing something that I didn’t love doing.”

RFID on steroids

“We leverage off battery-less Bluetooth stickers. For a lot of retailers, they understand the notion of RFID. This is basically RFID on steroids. We’re able to use Bluetooth to triangulate and understand the location of an item without having to necessarily have the item go through or go past a physical gate. 

The great thing about Bluetooth is the signal itself can help us understand location. Now that the technology has gotten to a point where it’s basically printed in the exact same way that RFID is, we now get the economies of scale and the pricing benefit that you get with RFID, but the functionality and location benefit that you get from Bluetooth.

The stickers get applied at the factory. What happens is, we have the ability to install our sensors, basically every point in the supply chain. The moment it’s manufactured, we can tell a retailer where in its production line it is. Once it gets to the warehouse, we can tell them it’s arrived to the warehouse. Once it’s arrived to the store, we can tell them the same.”

Strength & weakness

“My biggest strength and also my biggest weakness is my ability to ideate, and what that’s resulted in is this huge product backlog. Where it’s a weakness is when it was just me and engineers, I’d send my engineers in 10 different directions at any point in time. 

We’ve actually brought on a product manager who can sit between me and them, so I can send him in 10 different directions, then he can funnel through to them what’s really important. He’s really helped us create that structure. I’ve got a million and one ideas of what I want to do and he’ll help us build it and scale them in a really effective way.”

Questions answered in this episode include
  • How are retailers using Flagship today?
  • What interesting customer behaviour have you discovered with this technology?
  • What advice do you have for people who are wanting to get a better rounded view across eCommerce? 

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