Using Mobile Inventory Data to Drive Foot Traffic

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Nitin Gupta is a guest author. If you would like to contribute a guest post, click here.

It’s no secret that local brick and mortar retailers have been heavily competing with online shopping for years now. So, how do these stores stay competitive in an environment where Amazon offers free shipping, no taxes, and consumers can shop from the comfort of their own home? In other words: how do retailers localize their presence, stand out from the crowd and bring shoppers right to their front door?

They can do so by finding consumers when they are in close proximity, when they are at their highest point of need, and when they want to buy something. Our company, Retailigence, was founded on this exact premise, but there is data to back up why this is in high demand at the present moment.

“Despite the popularity of ordering online, people still seem to have an affinity for bricks-and-mortar stores, and they’re using shopping apps creatively to make the experience of local shopping timely and budget-friendly,” a Pricegrabber spokeswoman recently said to Forrester Research recently did a study, and found that “94% of retail sales in the U.S still happen ‘offline’…just 6% online.”

When you walk down a grocery store aisle, peer into a clothing rack, or stop by a convenience store, you can see exactly what is in stock and what isn’t. Well, what if you didn’t have to go into the store to know? What if you could search on your phone to see which local store was carrying what you needed? It’s a simple concept — bringing the store shelf into the digital space, or as we like to call it: “the digital store shelf.

There needs to be a bridge over the gap between intent-driven mobile shoppers and retailers who carry the goods that they are looking for. Focusing on the last mile of the retail supply chain by connecting demand from consumers to supply from brick and mortar stores is more important than ever.

Local businesses are spending more than $60B on advertising yet consumers are still asking the same old question: Where can I buy this? “Without using a service like Retailigence, brick-and-mortar retailers are generally left out of online and mobile search results,” Jim Nichols from ad:tech’s Startup Watch wrote.

E-commerce provides consumers with the ability to get products shipped to them, but as consumers are still shopping offline, they are also doing research online before they get there. In fact, in a study of nearly 2,500 people, Yahoo Advertising partnered with Universal McCann to find that 69% of people trust the Internet for researching their purchases over TV and magazines, and “seeking information is paramount to consumers, making “discover” tools the most leveraged throughout every step of the shopping process.”

There are several ways to do this. Some of our competitors crawl through available online data which is useful to an extent. Some of this data might not be entirely accurate, or may be old. We feel a direct connection is needed. Retailigence connects directly to retailers’ through direct retailer feeds and through retailer POS vendor relationships (we recently announced our partnership with ERPLY and B2B Soft).

It can be confusing for retailers. Local retailers still don’t completely get all of the ways that our API can be used, and in a recent interview with Greg Sterling of Screenwerk, we explained that most retailers don’t have a comprehensive view of the mobile market just yet. Nordstrom and BestBuy are leading in terms of forward thinking, but getting smaller, local stores to get involved is still a challenge. Eric Hassett, a small business owner in Palo Alto, gets it: “The ability to publish local results for the brands and products we stock will enable us to better reach our customers, and in turn help our customers shop more locally and efficiently, knowing exactly what we have in stock in real time.”

Through Mobilistar’s “Where Can I Buy” filter for the augmented reality application Layar, shoppers can point their smartphone at a nearby buildings to see if they have the products they’re looking for. It creates a fun, almost game-like way to shop. Other, more traditional shopping apps can use it when a shopper simply enters “Guess jeans” into the application – local stores carrying those specific types of jeans will pop up.

Smartphones and location-based services are changing the very face of traditional retail. As more studies are done, more shoppers become aware of these services, and retailers, developers and brands figure out the best way to use this technology, it will be fascinating to see how retail changes.

The ability to deliver location-relevant inventory data to apps is not only making apps more functional and useful, it’s also providing retailers (large and small) a way to be visible at the right time and at the right place.

We are excited to be at the forefront of this revolution by driving high-intent foot traffic directly to the retailer’s doors.

Nitin Gupta is the VP of Business Development at Retailigence.