Typically, the day after Christmas is the third biggest shopping day of the year. This year it was the second biggest shopping day of the year (almost as big as Black Friday). This could either be good news (i.e. increased sales) or bad news (i.e. increased returns).
What people don’t understand about ShopSavvy is that scanning barcodes is only a small part of what we do. Telling someone that this:
is actually the numbers 9781449379865 is easy enough to do, but is of limited utility.
What is really valuable is being able to have your phone tell you:
Hey, that thing you’re holding in your hand can be purchased for $27 online or $44 at a store right down the street.
So we set up a little experiment where we took a variety of products, from Blu-Rays to books to puzzles and games to grocery items and scanned them with Bing Vision and with ShopSavvy.
We were looking for the following things:
Does scanning this item give me a product page for the exact item I’m holding right now? – sending us to a search page for that item isn’t good enough, we want to see a page for the actual product.
Do I get a picture for the item? – for Bing, we want this picture in our list of options so we know what we’re tapping on.
Do I get prices for this item? – knowing what the item is isn’t good enough. We already know what the item is… we’re holding it! We want to do a price comparison. “Am I paying too much for this?” is the most important question.
If we can get all three of these questions to answer “yes”, then the app passes for that product.
You can see the results below in a chart.
Honestly, I was surprised the results were quite so stark. Although Rylan, who maintains our product and prices information, was not. He’s been working on this problem long enough to know that there is more to a good barcode scanner than meets the eye.
I spend time reading comments from users (market, twitter, facebook and other) and it seems like there remains confusion over our local inventory data. I wanted to set the record straight in this post. We have local price and inventory data from more than 26,000 retailers, but users are sometimes confused about when they should get in their car and when they should dial their phone.
Let me set the scene for you: Lets say you have a terrible cold and the last Kleenex ran out last night. Your mom isn’t willing to head to the store to get you some more and you realize your nose is going to fall off if you blow it with the paper towels one more time. So you pull out ShopSavvy and scan the barcode on the empty Kleenex box. Here is what you see:
There are 8 online sources and 19 local stores that we have in our system. Note the blue dot next to the lowest local store price. Note that the local price is actually less than the lowest online price (happens more often than you might think). The ‘blue dot’ signifies confirmed local inventory. When you see a blue dot next to a price we have information from the retailer that the item is in stock.
Now click on the Local Store tab and here is what you see:
Obviously most grocery stores carry Kleenex, but only Walmart, Target and Dollar General share there prices and inventory with ShopSavvy. Note the ‘Add Store’ row – you can tap it anytime and add a price from the store you are standing in (assuming we don’t have it). Remember, don’t add prices from you house (we check location to ensure you are in the store). Note how we carry the blue dot to this screen indicating which retailer confirms inventory. Now you can assume that the closest grocery store to you will have Kleenex, but imagine instead you are looking for the latest video game at Christmas. Instead of calling all over town you can use ShopSavvy to figure out who has the item. Now that we see Target has the item we don’t know which of the ten stores has it so you need to tap on the Target tab:
By default we send you to the closest store (whether or not they have the item in stock). In this example, the closest store has the item in stock. You can always click on the address to select a different store as seen below:
In this case, all of the Target stores have Kleenx in stock (as you would have assumed). Now lets say you were in Walmart and wanted to know if they would match the price you saw at Target. Just click on the ‘Price Matching Policy’ tab to find out if a particular retailer will match prices (lots of times you don’t need to drive, the retailer you are in will match). Here is an example:
At the end of the day we provide the phone number of each retail store – before you drive, just call the store to check to ensure they have a product (blue dot or not).
Several folks emailed me asking why we didn’t go down because they know we use Amazon’s Cloud for ShopSavvy. Last night Amazon’s cloud crashed taking down a number of other companies. Great news, ShopSavvy did’t go down. Two weeks ago I wrote a post detailing our server environment locally and in the Amazon Cloud. The easy answer is that we have two sets of infrastructure hosting our backend – if Amazon goes down our data center takes over and vice versa.
Lots of you email us each week and ask about our business model and our plans in general. I thought I would take a few moments here in the final hours of 2010 (before our guests arrive) to give you a behind the scenes look at the ShopSavvy platform.
QuickPay is our strategy to bring ‘augmented’ payments to mobile – fundamentally changing mobile shopping. QuickPay 1.0 removes buying inertia allowing a user to buy from any retailer using PayPal in just a few clicks without ever visiting the retailers website or store. QuickPay is tightly integrated in the App as well as our AdOn advertising framework. We achieved PCI DSS 1.2 compliance paving the way for QuickPay 2.0 that will allow users to pay with their Mastercard, Visa or AMEX cards from a much wider set of retailers.
Update: When we updated our SDK license we eliminated the ad-supported model in favor of the more popular ‘fee’ based models. This was a mistake, LOTS of folks like the free barcode scanner license model – we are adding BACK it as a fifth option.
Earlier this year we publicly released the barcode scanner SDK (ScannerKit) that powers ShopSavvy. We have hundreds of licensees including Consumer Reports, Walmart/Sam’s, FastMall and PriceGrabber. Our original license required that licensees include our AdOn ad framework in order to use the ScannerKit. Hundreds of you have requested an ad-free option and we decided we would change our licensing model to meet your needs.
I am pleased to announce we now have four ‘ad free’ options for licensees in addition to the ad-support model. Beginning today using the ad framework is 100% optional. General commercial licenses cost $5,000. Retailer licenses cost $5,000 and require the retailer to provide a product feed for use in ShopSavvy. Startups who have been in business less than a year and raised less than $250,000 can defer the $5,000 fee for 12 months. Finally, students and/or schools who want to license the SDK for non-commercial use can use the SDK at no cost. Here is a run down:
– Commercial Use: $5,000 upfront payment due prior to public release
- Retailer Use: $5,000 upfront payment + product/price/inventory data feed
- Startup Use: $5,000 payment deferred for 12 months
- Student/School Non-Commercial Use: No payment due (proof required) - Ad-Supported: No cost as long as you include the Ad Framework for the life of the app
Licenses executed prior to December 13th, 2010 are still enforce and will be honored. If you are a current Licensee and wish convert to the new license please contact Alexander Muse at 214.550.2003.
We think QuickPay 1.0 and the upcoming 2.0 version of the feature could drastically change consumer behavior when it comes to offline to online purchase conversion. IE Market Research projects that purchases made via cellphones in the US will exceed $40 billion by 2014 – that is a BIG opportunity. In fact even today, Amazon is seeing great traction with their mobile apps – more than a billion in revenue in the past 12 months. What if an application (say ShopSavvy) offered the same sort of functionality, but allowed consumers to buy the same product for less from ANY/EVERY other retailer? We think QuickPay will do just that.
Amazon recently released their version of ShopSavvy. It makes it easy to scan barcodes and find the item on Amazon. Several folks asked if we were worried. The answer is – of course – I am always worried. The truth is I think Amazon is worried. Why do I think that? Well first, Amazon cut off our access their API last year. This was a little surprising and didn’t seem to make much sense. Then they made a half-hearted offer to buy us, but in reality I think wanted to see our data (we didn’t share it). Now before you jump to the conclusion that I don’t like Amazon realize that I am a huge Amazon fan; as proof my family bought 80% of our Christmas gifts from the site.
The biggest reason I think Amazon was worried was the simple fact that more than 96% of the time they do NOT have the lowest price on a particular product. In fact, out of 3,171,490 products our users have scanned, Amazon was the cheapest option 123,174 times – 3.8% of the time. QuickPay allows a user to buy a product with just a few clicks – just like the Amazon app, but the difference is that the user can buy the product from the cheapest retailer – not just through Amazon. We believe QuickPay is going to be big – very big.
If you have your spouse is likely working on our latest ‘deal’ from the Deals tab in ShopSavvy. Users who scan all of the items in their fridge, add them to a grocery list AND share that list with us have a chance to win a $250 shopping spree (deal ends 12/25/2010). Whats in your freezer? Let us know and you might win.
Here are a couple of lists from Tereda and Matthew I just got in my in box. Can’t wait to see what you eat: