Ever wonder how it’s even possible to find local retail information via your mobile device? Me too, until I found out about Retailigence, a back end solution that helps consumers with purchase intent find a store in their vicinity with product, price and current promotion information.
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. But, 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 Retailigence likes to call it: “the digital store shelf.”
Retailigence provides a back end database to social media applications in an effort to bridge the gap between intent driven mobile shoppers and retailers who carry the goods that they are looking for. The company covers the last mile of the retail supply chain by connecting demand from consumers to supply from brick and mortar stores. Retailigence ensures local retail product availability information is available to any mobile or web application on any mobile OS – this data is location-enabled and represents actual product availability in-store.
“Retailigence leverages GPS, mobility, and the Internet to provide shoppers with instant gratification, retailers with buyer traffic, and everyone with valuable market research. It’s really a big WIN-WIN for the market,” according to Rich Sherman, president, Gold & Domas Research.
Based out of Palo Alto, CA and funded by well known Silicon Valley venture capital firms like Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Quest Venture Partners and 500 Startups LLC, the company’s founding team has roots in retail, technology and systems integration experience.
The startup seems poised to make some moves, they raised $1.5M in Sept 2010, and the next round is currently under way. The product is still in beta release, but with a total number of products cataloged at 6.6M they are positioning to become the default local retail database. According to Nitin Gupta, VP Business Development, Retailigence currently has about 400 apps signed on for the API and they now have their sights on reaching 1,000.
“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.” – Eric Hassett, Small Business Owner, Palo Alto, CA
How do retailers localise their presence and bring shoppers to their front door?
Forrester Research recently did a study, and found that “94% of retail sales in the U.S still happen ‘offline’… with just 6% online.” And Local businesses are spending more than $60B on advertising yet consumers are still asking the same old question: “Where can I buy this?” 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.
(I don’t know about you but I read that last paragraph and think BIG OPPORTUNITY)
Retailigence is not just for large retailers, local merchants also have to opportunity to tap into the valuable retail database. 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. However, it can still be confusing for local retailers as they don’t completely get all of the ways that the Retailigence API can be used. Nordstrom and Best Buy are leading in terms of forward thinking, but getting smaller, local stores to get involved is still a challenge most likely due to assumed technicality issues.
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.“
A Fellow Founder Institute Graduate
CEO Jeremy Geiger conceived the concept behind Retailigence in early 2009. (Read more about the Retailigence team and their backgrounds here.) At that time, he was running Asian subsidiaries for large software companies. Driven by his passion and desire to launch Retailigence, Jeremy headed to Silicon Valley to explore options. He went through the Founder Institute incubation program in the summer of 2009 and soon after started to put the team together in late 2009. The product was in development until the summer of 2010. With the first round of funding coming in Sept 2010, Retailigence was officially launched to the world on Nov 12, 2010 at the Under The Radar conference where we won the Best in Show award.
Upon its initial launch, Retailigence, like most disruptive tech startups, faced the typical “chicken and egg” problem whereby the two ends of the ecosystem (the retailers and the application developers) both wanted to see ample traction on the other end prior to committing. A solid partnership driven approach helped eliminate the issue in the short run and once the messaging starting to jive with the audience, they started to see organic growth within the ecosystem, and the rest is history.
Retailigence Startup Lessons learned:
1. Partner early and partner well
2. Don’t take a half-baked product to market
3. Remain consistent with your messaging
4. Have a singular focus, achieve the goals and have a roadmap in place
5. Hire smart people who love to solve difficult problems
If you are a social or mobile application, check out how to leverage Retailigence here.