It’s amazing how technology has impacted the act of shopping. Today, I can buy a deep-discounted deal through Groupon, “check-in” to the store via Foursquare, like the brand on Facebook, and shop online at my convenience. Facebook, the oldest of these companies, just turned eight years-old this month.
New start-ups are launching every day that change how consumers buy and how merchants sell. While most of us know Facebook, Foursquare and Groupon, I’ve put together a list of the six new companies that I’m most excited about. I’d also like your feedback. Which company do you feel has the greatest chance to impact retail? Please respond to the poll below, and write-in companies you feel others should know about in the poll and comments section below.
What they do: GoSpotCheck provides mystery shopping data via crowdsourcing.
How it works: Shoppers download the app to their iPhones and find nearby tasks, such as answering questions or taking pictures at local stores. GoSpotCheck pays users cash to complete these tasks, and the market research data is compiled for brands to analyze.
What makes it exciting: Market research is expensive and takes time to collect via mystery shoppers. Considering Apple sold 37 million iPhones in the last quarter alone, a service like GoSpotCheck has the potential to collect data at a lower cost, and quickly.
What they do: Shopperception uses the Xbox Kinect motion-capture device to analyze consumer shopping behavior.
How it works: Retailers position the Kinect device to analyze how customers interact with products on shelves. The system can even analyze the conversion rate on the specific products customers approach.
What makes it exciting: Just check out the demo to understand how cool this in-aisle research technology is. Shopperception provides a trove of data that both national retailers and small businesses can use to improve the layout and item placement in stores.
What they do: Pushpins combines a smartphone grocery list with instant coupons.
How it works: Users create shopping lists, then scan barcodes in the grocery store to receive coupons. These coupons are preloaded onto customers’ store loyalty cards and redeemed at checkout. The app can also suggest items based on the current shopping list.
What makes it exciting: Grocery stores are an area where smartphones could easily disrupt the status quo. While we wait for something like near-field communication (NFC) to create a seamless smartphone shopping experience, Pushpins is an option readily available today that even integrates directly with loyalty cards of popular brands, such as ShopRite and Giant Eagle.
What they do: RNKD offers rewards to users that upload purchased items to its social community.
How it works: From Nick Swinmurn, founder of Zappos.com, RNKD uses rewards to incentivize participation in its social platform. Users earn badges and gift cards for accomplishments, such as uploading the most items from a single brand.
What makes it exciting: Many loyalty programs end at the point of sale–if you don’t use your plastic card at checkout, you’re out of luck. The combination of retroactive rewards with gamification presents the opportunity to develop a large, diverse community of users–one that brands and retailers can leverage to better communicate with shoppers.
Fit of Passion
What they do: Fit of Passion provides shoppers assistance with online clothing shopping.
How it works: Online shoppers can use Fit of Passion to compare the fit of their favorite pair of jeans to another pair. Retailers can either list their products on the Fit of Passion website, or they can integrate the comparison engine into their own site.
What makes it exciting: Personally, the only brand of jeans I buy online are Levi’s 527 size 31/32–a pair I know fits me reliably. Being able to compare other jeans to this specific cut and size would increase my confidence in online shopping. This is a great example of a company addressing the needs of both merchants and consumers.
What they do: Signature is a “personal shopping assistant” application for the iPhone.
How it works: Retailers can customize the app to act as a mobile sales associate. Functionality includes notifying shoppers of sales in the store and setting up appointments with associates. Customers can also scan items to learn more about them.
What makes it exciting: This type of solution is a better alternative to users having an app for each store they frequent. In addition, retailers can customize the app to integrate the functionality into their current sales strategy.
Which of these excites you the most? Is there another up-and-comer you think others should know about? Be sure to leave a note in the comments with your favorite companies, and participate in the poll at the top!