Merchant: Tarrytown Pharmacy
Location: Austin, Texas
Bottom Line: By offering to test a startup’s technology in-store, small and mid-size businesses can sometimes take advantage of hyperlocal tools at a reduced price.
In the tech-savvy city of Austin, Texas, shoppers are eager to visit stores that utilize the latest hyperlocal tools for marketing and promotion. However, as Tarrytown Pharmacy owner Mark Newberry explains, adopting new marketing technology, and integrating that technology with existing in-store systems, often comes at a price.
“For a small pharmacy like us, it’s very hard for us to stay on the cutting edge of new software or launches, simply because we don’t have the capital behind us. We don’t have the money to go out there and develop this kind of stuff, like major retailers do,” Newberry says.
Rather than going it alone and creating a targeted marketing platform from the ground up, Newberry opted to work with a hyperlocal startup that was looking for businesses to test out its platform. The company, Shelfbucks, offers personalized deals to people shopping in store using iBeacons.
“It’s something new that we can put in the store that no one else has that makes Tarrytown Pharmacy appear to be at the forefront,” Newberry says.
Like many small and mid-size businesses, Tarrytown Pharmacy doesn’t have its own mobile app to insert Shelfbucks’ SDK into, nor does it have the funds to build a branded app from scratch. Instead, the pharmacy is asking customers to download the free Shelfbucks app to take advantage of personalized in-store offers.
“We have side apps that help us with filling prescriptions, but from a retail standpoint, we don’t have a Tarrytown Pharmacy app that has information on it that we can load Shelfbucks onto,” Newberry says. “So they created, just for easiness, their own app that we could download. That made it simple for us to explain to consumers.”
With 18 beacons currently positioned in various departments throughout the pharmacy—and a projected 30 or 40 beacons by the time the program is fully implemented—Newberry says his team is fully committed to the success of the project. Beacons are placed throughout Newberry’s store, and customers who’ve downloaded the Shelfbucks app and requested deals are sent personalized offers based on their specific aisle locations. For example, a customer who glances at her phone while walking through the vitamins aisle might see an offer for 20%-off multivitamins or prenatal supplements.
“With three taps of my iPhone or Android, [I can] scan a product and get $3 or $4 off, so we’re bringing value to our customers with a program that’s easy to use,” Newberry says. “That’s a win/win for us, because we get to give the customer a deal and we probably build some loyalty.”
Newberry sees opportunity for Tarrytown Pharmacy from a business analytics standpoint, as well. He’s been able to negotiate a “discounted rate” with Shelfbucks in exchange for allowing the company to test its technology in his store. And in the coming months, he hopes to use Shelfbucks to cross-market customers and show an incremental increase in revenue.
“If you come in and pick up an antihistamine and scan a deal, then as soon as you put that in your basket, maybe a new page pops up and says, ‘Have you thought about this eye drop for your allergies?’ or ‘Do you need extra Kleenex?,’ Newberry says. “[There are] all kind of possibilities.”
By taking a risk and offering to test out a relatively new product, Tarrytown Pharmacy is getting the chance to take advantage of sophisticated hyperlocal technology that the business could not afford to implement on its own. Although the program at Tarrytown Pharmacy is still in its infancy — it was rolled out in February of this year — Newberry is already seeing forward momentum. He says even older customers who fall outside the traditional tech-savvy demographic have said they are interested in learning how they can use the app to save a few dollars on every trip.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.