Smoopa, the app that pays consumers to find bargains, just increased its potential mobile downloads by about 30 percent by landing onto iOS.
Smoopa is a mobile commerce startup cofounded by a longtime ex-Google employee, a former Massachusetts state trooper and a defense scientist. The app capitalizes on a trend that has started to roil brick-and-mortar stores during the past year. Now armed with smartphones, shoppers are comparing prices in physical stores to online stores on a hunt for the best prices.
Though there already are apps like this in the market – especially by Amazon and eBay – Smoopa’s incentive is to offer rewards to shoppers for sharing price information when they visit physical stores. Each
time a consumer scans an item and enters price data from a real-world store, there’s a random change they will win credits that either can go toward gift cards, charitable donations or rebate checks.
“We’re at an inflection point with local shopping and there’s an opportunity to change the landscape that hasn’t existed before,” said Smoopa cofounder Mendel Chuang.
Smoopa is available on Google Play. Consumers use the app by scanning a barcode, then the app displays a list of matching products from the company’s database of 20 million items. The app also provides a list of nearby stores. The user can pick one and give the local price in the store on the item. The user may be offered a special deal or a randomly generated reward of about 50 cents in credit toward a future purchase. If the user finds a better price online through the app, then they have the option of buying the item directly through the app. Smoopa factors shipping costs, so the shopper can tell whether the overall price will be
better offline or online.
Smoopa earns revenue from affiliates when consumers opt to buy items through the app instead of in the store. The company also can earn revenue through targeted advertising – which in this case, is especially
valuable because the app is so close to a shopper’s point of transaction.
There are other viral hooks built into the app, such as a $2 referral bonus for every friend a user suggests.
Smoopa, which has generated a little more than $500K in angel funding, is based out of First Floor Labs, AOL’s incubator space in Palo Alto. They’ve accepted funding from Dennis Hwang, the original Google doodler, Nate Johnson, who leads consumer product marketing at LinkedIn, and Peter Weck, the cofounder and chief technology officer of SimplyHired.
As online retail sales continue to soar, bring and mortar retails need to figure out a way to compete with e-commerce, or many of them will face extinction. Deals and coupons won’t be enough in the long run.
“Retail isn’t broken, stores are,” said former Apple retail chief Ron Johnson. So how will retail stores survive? There are ways for them to combat this. Though mobile may be the device that e-commerce giants are using to vex physical stores, it’s also the technology that can save these stores. Data and personalization are the two key factors that may save retail stores. The vehicle that that can carry them is the smartphone.
Shopkick is a free, location-based mobile shopping app available for Android and iPhone. Its founder, Cyriac Roeding, believes that the mobile phone is key to the future of commerce for stores. The app automatically recognizes when someone with the app walks into a participating store. Once a Shopkick Signal is detected, the app delivers reward points called “kickbucks” to the user for visiting a retail store, trying on clothes, scanning a barcode and other participation. Those rewards can be used toward store purchases.
Roeding also says the role of the physical retail store will change in the future. What online stores cannot offer is the one-on-one personalization and personal treatment that a physical store with employees
can. For one thing, people feel much more confident trying on clothes and shoes before buying them, which is impossible to do virtually.
Also, consumers can be indecisive but once they decide what they want, they want it right now. In-store shopping brings instant gratification because a customer can bring home the merchandise as soon as it
is purchased. Online, you have to wait.
While they adapt to the challenges that e-commerce companies are introducing, brick-and-mortar outlets need to realize they still have these factors to their advantage.