Friday Nov 9, 2012 by Susan Johnston - Contributor, VentureFizz
With the holiday shopping season rapidly approaching, retail-focused mobile apps are finding innovative ways to harness consumer spending. Among those is Maynard-based ShopAdvisor, which released its iPhone app in September 2011 and now has 3.3 million active users.
Co-Founder Andrew Mahon says the app was inspired by a gap in the mobile and eCommerce marketplace. “A lot of times with your phone, you’re not necessarily transacting on it,” he explains. “One of the things [consumers] do is get ideas about products they might buy later. Say you want to remember a bottle of wine for the next time you go shopping. That would be a really good thing for a phone to remember.”
In addition to remembering a favorite bottle of wine or other product, ShopAdvisor can alert consumers when the item drops in price so they can buy at the most opportune moment. The top item purchased on the app is women’s shoes, followed by consumer electronics and women’s clothing. Mahon describes the target users as “young, urban professionals, people with disposal income for whom shopping is an event, not a chore.”
The app, whose primary monetization strategy is affiliate programs, announced $1.45 million in seed funding in May. In August, ShopAdvisor announced a partnership with digital publishing platform Zinio. “We’ve always been looking for where it is that people get inspired, and an obvious one for us is magazines,” explains Mahon. “That’s the top of the funnel, because you see ads or a fall wardrobe article.”
Unlike websites, digital magazines tend not to include as many links. “Most of them are really high functioning PDF images,” says Mahon. “It’s a single document that has very nice navigation through it, and it’s really beautiful on the iPad.”
With the added layer of ShopAdvisor technology, consumers have a seamless way to watch a pair of shoes or necklace featured in the pages of the magazine.
But ShopAdvisor’s reach doesn’t end there. “As we look through the landscape, we’ve identified a whole bunch of other places where people get inspired,” continues Mahon. “It might be a billboard or the pages of physical magazine, so we’ve partnered with a leading bar code scanning app.”
Partnering with other applications has proven to be a successful strategy for attracting new users who are already using the other app and start experimenting with ShopAdvisor. The app now has 550,000 monthly active users.
Since this is ShopAdvisor’s second holiday season in business, Mahon says they plan to draw on data from last year to help users make better purchasing decisions. “We were able to take a lot of the data from last year and do an analysis of what happened on Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” he adds. “What we have now is this huge body of data about when the most sales were available. One thing we’re trying to communicate to users is there are hidden Black Fridays before Thanksgiving—and after, too.”