Every consumer has faced it.
Susan starts out trying to buy a relatively simple item – new sheets, a toaster. Maybe it starts as an innocent stroll through the Home Electronics section at the local Target, or a quick glance on Amazon – but that is not where it ends because the consumer somehow knows that she could be getting a better deal on that toaster or those sheets somewhere else.
Several hours, many websites, a coupon code search or two later and Susan still can’t make toast or take a nap on high thread count sheets. Frazzled and exhausted, she gives up and buys something that sort of meets her needs so as to not have to think about it any more.
While this situation is obviously bad for Susan, it’s actually even worse for the merchants that spend a good deal of time and treasure trying to lure in consumers with special offers – only to be lost in a sea of offers that thoroughly overwhelm the consumer and push her towards essentially random behavior. While the mobile Web offers retailers a big opportunity to reach their customers, it also offers a host of ways to lose them to a product search gone on too long. From the merchant’s standpoint, consumers need a smarter way to search.
Or perhaps just a savvier one.
“ShopSavvy has all the best deals with all sales all in one place from all the retailers,” ShopSavvy CEO John Boyd told PYMNTS in an interview. “The idea behind ShopSavvy is that people, whether they are out and about or shopping on the couch, don’t necessarily want to go to 20 different sites to figure out where they can get the best deal.”
And while ShopSavvy can’t quite claim it has all the retailers, it certainly brings an impressive pack to the consumer, with sales information from half a million retail partners aggregated into an easy to read, consumer friendly dashboard. And that number of merchants is on the rise. ShopSavvy has come a long way from its starting concept – a bar code scanner that allowed people to quickly compare the in-store price she was seeing to the 40,000 or so retail partners ShopSavvy started out with.
That scanner allowed customers to collectively save millions, Boyd noted, while also laying the groundwork for the latest iteration of the ShopSavvy app. That app compares the full range of prices on a product, incorporating offers, sales, markdowns and coupons among other things.
“Innovation sometimes comes through serendipity – to do bar code scanning really well we had to crawl all the retailers’ sites and we also had to have an infrastructure to allow retailers to provide all this information to use all through the course of doing business,” Boyd noted. “And over the course of the last two years, those relationships have evolved where instead of just providing information about the cheapest price, we’ve gathered a lot more information about the product, including thousands of images and reviews – everything. As well as all of that, we know when [a product] goes on sale, we know when there is a coupon code around that particular product, we know when there is a deal around that product. So it’s been a natural evolution for us. [We thought] why just stop at providing the price information? Why not talk about everything that has to do with savings and helping customers find deals? That is something our users ask us for every day and something our technology has naturally evolved to.”
And that evolution has allowed ShopSavvy to learn a lot about the customers their retail partners are trying to woo – especially when it comes to discounting and how consumers react. Boyd noted that though the ease of comparing prices is the draw for their users – ShopSavvy doesn’t consider itself in the discounting business.
“We’re all about products. We’re not about coupons or deals necessarily in a general way, we’re about them as they relate to specific product and product searches. At our core we are a product search company,” Boyd explained.
Boyd noted that while discounts offer the broadest draw, they are not the most effective means of converting consumers. Targeted messaging — which speaks to what the consumer is looking for at the time they actively seek it out — on the other hand, is highly effective and is all about matchmaking consumers with their products.
“[We] spend a lot of time making pitches that are very personalized and very targeted,” Boyd told PYMNTS. “So if, for example, someone is looking for apparel, we don’t send them a promotion for a TV, if they prefer certain brands, we send them those brands. Hitting the consumer with the right offers is much more important than hitting them with a discount on something they don’t want to buy.”
It’s a unique value proposition – and by Boyd’s account an effective one – which it almost has to be since ShopSavvy is swimming in some very deep waters with some very committed sharks. Google has been increasingly making a push to dominate product search – and facing stiff competition from players Amazon and Facebook. And when asked directly about how it feels to be competing in product search with the world’s most successful search firms, retailers and social networks, Boyd was optimistic.
“In 2011, I remember when we were out raising money that was the most common question: What do you do when Google goes after product search and kills you?” Boyd reflected. “And I think that almost any startup in Silicon Valley actually faces that question in some form or other. We love competition, I think it drives innovation. As long as the playing field is level, we enjoy the competition from Google or any of our competitors. We think it makes the products better and we think it makes us better, so we love it.”
ShopSavvy makes its money in one of two ways. If it directly contributes to a conversion – i.e. a consumer responds to an offer or targeted deal made through the ShopSavvy platform and buys – ShopSavvy gets a cut of that sale. More broadly, like many others in the mobile discounting business, it also draws a revenue stream from those who advertise on the platform.
And that is a platform that they are looking to expand in 2015 by recruiting both more users and more merchant partners. Boyd says the firm is confident about this – especially as Apple has given wearables a boost – since their highly targeted offers are ideally suited to the sort of tap and go notifications that pair up well with the Apple Watch.
“I think we’re going to see a lot more personalized, targeted offers and I think those offers are just going to keep getting easier to deliver to consumers,” Boyd asserted. “I think the Apple Watch is shaping up to be a big success and I think our app on it is going to be a big value for us in delivering more personalized and proprietary deals through ShopSavvy.”
And while ShopSavvy has not one, but perhaps several Goliaths to tame, if not slay – it also offers a unique promise – freeing the consumer from a Quixotic quest for the best imaginable deal. Something that anyone who has ever inexplicably lost a day to eCommerce can surely appreciate.