Between 2009 and 2013, according to the most recently available data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the median household income in Oxford, Mississippi, was a little over $39k a year, 55 percent of the population was working age (18-65) and a little over 20 percent of the population had a bachelor’s degree or higher. In Portland, Oregon, the average household pulled in around $52k a year, 65 percent of the population was working age and almost 44 percent of the population had a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Apart from being interesting trivia with which to amaze friends, the above data, courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau, points to an underlying problem in the quest to leverage mobile technology as a tool to get consumers into retail locations. The goal is to motivate consumers – but consumers, even those of big national brands, aren’t the same everywhere in the United States.
Or, summed up more succinctly by Dónde CEO Anthony Nicalo:
“You don’t show the same recipes to people in Portland that you do in Oxford, Mississippi.”
Nicalo recently chatted with MPD CEO Karen Webster about how Dónde wants to square the circle of making the global marketplace that is the Internet into an effective marketing tool to direct the attentions and spend of the local consumer, particularly the one on mobile.
“Sixty-three times for everyone, people on mobile are using the store locator,” Nicalo told Webster. “People who use their phones in the shopping process are actually buying in physical retail locations. That kind of shopper needs to see, touch and feel the reward of the immediate gratification of buying it. All of those sort of things live around our long-term shopping behaviors and haven’t really changed even though we have computers in our pockets now."
But those “computers in our pockets,” are really a huge opportunity for retailers of all stripes, Nicalo told Webster, and Dónde (the Spanish word for “where”) exists to help them tap into that opportunity.
“We think about ourselves today as a place where digital consumer becomes an in–store shopper through geographically aware promotions and offers.
“Our core product was a store locator and so online pick-up in store seemed like natural extension. Once [a consumer] decides what to buy, [they] would also want to be able to complete the transaction before [they] get there and just pick it up."
However, Nicalo told Webster, Dónde’s expectations of what the market wanted were not quite aligned correctly.
“What we learned is that the market isn’t quite there yet, so we decided to focus on shopper marketing,” he said. Specifically, what Dónde does is put location aware information through the variety of online channels brands use – websites, tweets, Google, Facebook, etc. so that product can be tied directly to the local “real world” location for the online consumer.
“We put location aware information and offers in any of those paces,” Nicalo said. So Dónde can insert Facebook ads for Burger King nuggets with a dynamic landing page so that the copy images and offers are all related to where the consumer is seeing it. In essence, the Dónde platform zeroes in on the ‘where’ related to consumers and uses that data to connect brands to their local audience.
“We’re the only end–to–end platform that’s doing online to offline across all of a brand’s marketing campaigns,” Nicalo noted when Webster asked what made his company’s retail analytics service unique. “We can help brands and retailers amplify all of their marketing whether it’s their own property, or paid media, or dynamic landing pages behind earned media. We are really able to take what are really national campaigns that have a lot of heavy lifting and localize them basically."
And, he said, so far the results have been promising.
“Brands that have their own locations where they want to book appointments are seeing a 300 percent increase in mobile appointment bookings. We’re seeing brands that are trying to drive traffic to their key retail accounts increasing foot traffic 150 percent week over week and similar percentages month over month – so it’s working in terms of driving that conversion from digital to physical location shopping trip.”
Yet, Nicalo admits that there is still a lot more to do. When Webster asked how Dónde measures those conversions, so for instance, whether they can tell how many chicken nuggets were sold via that Facebook ad, Nicalo noted that as of yet, they didn’t have data that could because the payments transaction data that is needed isn’t there.
“You can probably tell me how many years away that level of attribution actually is right now,” he joked with Webster.
And while she suggested that might be “a while,” Nicalo said that they can still tell quite a lot, particularly when Dónde compares its online data about consumer habits, with their partners’ data on offline in-store transactions.
“It’s funny, the people who are farthest away from having any idea, right now, they’re just running brand ads – they’re the most stuck on ‘Well, how do you know that they actually purchased it.’ When the reality is we basically do analytics around what stores people actually go to. That’s based on an algorithm that studies their interactions with the locations in terms of direction, calls, views of particular locations, what vertical was being looked at and how people typically interact with store locators. Then we have partners that do the offline attribution modeling."
It’s not perfect yet, Nicalo noted, but it is a space where he believes Dónde can provide maximum value.
“It’s definitely not ‘this person saw this thing online and purchased this thing’ – the technology [is] not there yet. But, we’re happy to sit in the middle and collaborate with the people that are holding the in-store payment attribution analytics."
Dónde made one of its first public appearances last year at IP 2014, an experience they said was inspiring and a little daunting at the same time.
“The experience at IP was really helpful because it helped us to understand where we could fit in the marketplace and also gave us a better perspective in terms of understanding where payments technology is and how close we actually are to being able to close the loop from online to offline and that level of detail."
In 2015, he said, the name of the game is growth as they have to now expand their vision to accommodate their new vision and expanded client roster.
“At the end of last year we started working with some bigger brands and retail chains, we’re about to go live with Cricket Wireless, we’re working with Frito Lay — and so really this year for us is about growing the team, growing our customer relationships."
It will be a lot of work, he says, but worth doing, as it will in some ways be a lot easier than the startup experience.
“2014 was about staying alive long enough to figure out what value we have to play to the market,” he said.
It looks like they’ve managed to check that box and are now hoping to help mobile customers cross the digital divide back into the traditional retail store.