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February 20 2014


February 18 2014


January 29 2014

Walmart Begins Testing Online Grocery Shopping With Local Store Pickup Option In Denver
Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 5.47.49 PMWalmart To Go, the retailer’s on-demand shopping service offering home delivery of general merchandise, including in some cases, groceries, is expanding its test in the Denver market today to also include a local pick-up option. Denver area customers will now be able to order their groceries online, then pick up at a nearby store – without having to set foot inside the store. Instead, customers will pull up to a designated pick-up spot on the side of the store, as directed. Or, in the case of those stores where a drive-through pharmacy is available, they’ll pick up their groceries from the pharmacy window. Depending on the location, they’ll either dial a phone number or enter an order into a touchscreen kiosk to let Walmart staff know they’ve arrived. Then it’s only a matter of popping the trunk. To get started, customers will first place their orders online, and Walmart will call them directly when the order is ready. The idea is that you could effectively “do your grocery shopping” in the morning, or while on your lunch break, then swing by the store on your way home to pick them up. However, Walmart believes many customers will still park and come into the store, even after placing the order online. This is because, in surveys the retail giant has conducted, 55 percent of shoppers said the idea of grocery pick-up (as opposed to home delivery) appealed to them because it would give them a chance to grab the items they forgot when placing the original online order. While in store, they may also come across other things to buy that weren’t on their list, Walmart hopes. But to be clear, the local grocery pick-up option is not meant to replace home deliveries, nor is the home grocery delivery experiment being called a bust. “It’s all about choice,” Walmart’s Director of Public Relations, Ravi Jariwala, explains. The retailer understands customer behavior is shifting, he adds, but the customers are the ones who will dictate what’s most convenient for them. “At this point, we’re really trying to assess what our customers are gravitating toward, and the good news is that I don’t think this is an either/or [situation],” says Jariwala. The “Walmart To Go” Suite Of Services Denver is one of the few areas where Walmart To Go offers home delivery of grocery items, and one of the most recent at that. Grocery

January 28 2014

Rachel Blumenthal Debuts Cricket’s Circle, A New Site To Help Moms Shop Better
Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 1.57.03 PMA new online destination for current and expecting moms, Cricket’s Circle, wants to offer more than a selection of goods for sale – it also wants to help you decide what to buy and why. The website, launching today, was created by Rachel Blumenthal, a parent herself, wife and advisor to Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal, and an entrepreneur, who previously founded and ran her own fashion jewelry brand, Rachel Lee, for nearly eight years, before licensing it to Glamhouse in 2012. Shortly after exiting Rachel Lee, she started working on the concept for what later became Cricket’s Circle, while also informally advising and consulting for Warby Parker. “As I started to think about what was next, I was fascinated by the idea that technology solves problems,” explains Rachel. She says she was vetting several ideas around that broader concept, but one kept resonating with her because of her own experiences. Rachel explains she had once asked her friends for advice on baby products, and later ended up with an overwhelming number of documents and Excel spreadsheets shared with her via email. Hoping to offer others a simpler solution, she decided to create Cricket’s Circle, a site which promises to provide women with short answers about what you need for baby. “There are about 150 buying decisions that have to happen within that first year,” Rachel explains. “These are brands that [most women have] never heard of. And these are not only confusing decisions, they’re emotional decisions. We wanted to take the guesswork out of it,” she says. At launch, Cricket’s Circle offers 600 products on its site, which you can browse by category. Within each category, three product recommendations are provided, all of which have been tested and rated by members of the site’s “mom community,” a group of some 200 women. Alongside each product is also a brief description offering an overview, ratings, as well as the various pros and cons. For example, Dr. Brown’s glass bottles are described as being known to help with colic and gas on the “pro” side, but as a “con, it’s noted they’re difficult to clean due to their half-dozen pieces. It’s hard to argue with the selection on Cricket’s Circle, which also offers an online registry checklist for expecting mothers. But that’s because the site tends to favor premium products where price and practicality is a secondary (if even) a concern. For example,

January 16 2014

Gifting Startup Jifiti Adds Another $1 Million, Launches White-Labeled Registry App For IKEA Portland
ikea_iphone_comp2Gifting startup Jifiti, which is attempting to merge the concept of thoughtful shopping involving carefully selected items with the convenience of a gift card, has added another $1 million to an earlier round announced this summer, the company is announcing today. The news comes as Jifiti launches its first white-labeled application, powering a gift registry for IKEA Portland. To date, IKEA stores don’t offer gift registries, which makes this current test potentially interesting for the startup, now that it has a foot in the door with the larger retailer. In July, Jifiti raised $2.5 million from Simon Property Group, a real estate company that operates over 300 malls in the U.S. and Asia, plus Schottenstein Stores Corp., owners of American Eagle and DSW, and the Jesselson Group. Now exercising their option to extend their investment, the Jesselson Group has invested an additional $1 million in the company. For those unfamiliar, Jifiti’s flagship consumer-facing application allows shoppers to pick out a gift in a brick-and-mortar store, scan its barcode to “purchase” it, and then the gift recipient is sent a notification about your purchase. To redeem the gift, the “giftee” visits the retailer’s shop where they can buy the item, swap it out for something in a different size or color, or pick out something altogether different, if they choose. The new white-labeled IKEA Portland Gift Registry app, powered by Jifiti, works in a similar way. Customers can “buy” any item by scanning it in the store, by typing in the item number provided by a printed IKEA catalog, or by browsing the catalog in the app, and selecting an item from there. A new feature will also allow family and friends to chip in any amount they want toward a gift, which is helpful, given IKEA’s bigger-ticket items. When the recipient is ready to purchase, they would return to the store, pick up their items (or something else instead), and then just show their phone at checkout. To make this digital gifting possible, Jifiti works with MasterCard to issue prepaid codes. For now, Jifiti’s white-labeled experience is only available for the IKEA Portland store, and co-founder Shaul Weisband is careful to explain that this not the start of a forthcoming expanded detail with the retailer – it’s only a test. However, he adds that the additional funding was needed not only for the new gift registry, but for more projects also in the works, including other white-labeling

January 08 2014

Mystery Shopping Service Mobee Acquires Kickscout, The Startup From RunKeeper Co-founder Michael Sheeley
hpss-shopping1Boston-based Mobee, the mystery shopping app built by former Googlers aimed at leveraging mobile to collect real-world data from inside stores and other businesses, has acquired local shopping app Kickscout, created by RunKeeper co-founder Michael Sheeley. Sheeley, who left RunKeeper in 2012 after helping grow the service to 10 million+ users, will now become Mobee's Chief Product Officer and work with the team in Boston.
With myDoorman, You Never Have To Miss A Package Delivery Again
fedex-slipWhile a number of big-name brands like Amazon, Google and eBay are testing the waters of local delivery on demand, where couriers drop off products following the push of a button on your smartphone, a new San Francisco-area startup called myDoorman is trying to solve the more everyday annoyance of missing your UPS or FedEx delivery window. Instead of returning home to find a sticky note left on your door, you can use myDoorman's mobile app instead to schedule evening deliveries of your packages on demand.

December 13 2013

Last Minute Holiday Shopping? San Francisco-Based SixDoors Raises $600K To Courier Gifts, Well, To Your Door
Six_Doors-55Same-day mobile shopping app SixDoors has been iterating on its idea of local product delivery since August, but only with the latest version released just weeks ago has the app really found its footing. With the new release, SixDoors has since doubled its user base, and now offers San Francisco residents a way to shop from over 60 local retailers from their iPhone in order to have their items delivered in as fast as 90 minutes, or within any other time slot they desire.

December 09 2013

Target Experiments With A Pinterest-Powered Online Storefront, Dubbed The “Awesome Shop”
target-awesome-shop1Target is testing an e-commerce storefront powered entirely by Pinterest recommendations, with the beta launch of a site called "Target Awesome Shop." The site, refreshed daily, is a mashup of data from Target's own online store and the social network. Today, it features Target products which have proven to be the most pinned items on Pinterest, that also have the top reviews from The new shop may grow to include other social networks in the future, the company says.

December 06 2013

Wisely Helps You Find Where To Shop Or Eat Based On Real Consumer Spending Patterns, Not User Reviews
Header ImageWhen looking for a new place to eat, drink or shop, most people turn to local recommendations services like Yelp, Google Places, or Foursquare, for example. A new mobile application called Wisely, launching today, has a different idea. Instead of user reviews, Wisely taps into actual transaction data, allowing you to filter searches by things like popularity or average bill size.

December 05 2013

Sound Familiar? Trace Launches A Social App That Lets You Share Your Purchases With Friends
If at first you don't succeed, try, try build another social network around users' recent shopping purchases. Trace is the latest startup to give social commerce a go, with a new iPhone app, launching now, which allows users to share what they've just bought with a network of friends.

December 04 2013

On Cyber Monday, Pinterest More Than Tripled The Revenue Sent To Online Retailers
As Pinterest opens its doors to advertisers, retailers have been carefully monitoring the service's ability to drive traffic to their sites, and more importantly, increase conversions which impact their bottom lines. Over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday shopping holidays, Pinterest delivered on this promise – or so claims a new report from social marketing firm Piqora. The company found that Pinterest doubled the revenue sent to retailers on Black Friday, and more than tripled the revenue (up by 3.6x) on Cyber Monday, when compared with the 30-day average preceding the Thanksgiving holiday. And since the after-Thanksgiving sales began a little early this year, it's also worth noting that Pinterest drove two times the revenue on turkey day as well. According to Piqora CEO Sharad Verma, whose company helps retailers and other brands market themselves across the “visual web” on sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr, what the Black Friday/Cyber Monday figures show is that Pinterest users aren't just “pinning for the sake of pinning.” That discounts a widely-held assumption that users on the site have been saving items they found there in a more “aspirational” manner, rather than a practical one. Or to put it more simply, there was concern that a Pinterest save didn't indicate buying intent. Says Verma, that's not so. “[Pinterest users] are pinning to buy and they are going to Pinterest to look for products to buy. They thought of Pinterest as a destination for their holiday shopping circuit,” he explains. “That never happened with F-commerce or Twitter, else we would have known it by now.” However, though revenue sent to retailers via Pinterest increased over these recent, lucrative shopping days, traffic across the site remained flat. This is because users on Cyber Monday and the like are more in “buying” mode, and less in “collecting or discovery” mode, so the overall clicks on pins and outbound traffic didn't see any meaningful jump. But though there were not more clicks, the clicks Pinterest delivered those days were more profitable. “We know that Pinners pin before they buy, and they click on their past pins when they are ready to buy them,” Verma says. “A bulk of those purchases (from self pins) happen between the second day of pinning and four weeks,” he notes. For retailers, that means those who had optimized their websites for pinning ahead of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday benefitted the most. The higher the share of pins they

November 25 2013

Insta-Sales? Soldsie Expands From Facebook-Based E-Commerce To Include Support For Instagram
Instagram isn't only a place to share perfectly framed photos of sunsets and selfies - some business owners have realized that the site works for pushing product, too. Today, e-commerce startup Soldsie, which previously focused only on businesses selling to their Facebook Page visitors, will now bring similar functionality to Facebook-owned Instagram.

November 22 2013

Sift Raises $2 Million For Its Personalized Shopping App, Now On iPhone
Mobile shopping service Sift has closed on $2 million in seed funding, the company is announcing today, alongside its launch on iPhone. The startup first emerged almost exactly a year ago as a way to leverage shopping data found in users' inboxes, including daily deals emails, retailer promotions, and messages from flash sale sites, then turn those into a "shoppable" experience on the iPad. Since then, the company has expanded beyond email data, to allow users to shop products from roughly 3,000 retailers, too. And today, Sift is expanding again. In the new mobile app, Sift is introducing a social shopping feature called Shopping Circles.

November 21 2013

Twice Brings Its Secondhand Clothing Marketplace To iPad
Online consignment shop for women's clothing, Twice, has made the move to mobile, starting first with a dedicated app for iPad, out now. The company, founded in 2012 and backed by $4.6 million in outside funding, was already seeing over half its emails opened on iPad, indicating a need to better address users on this platform with a native experience. Now that the app is live, the company expects it will drive around 25% of all revenue post-launch.

November 20 2013

Slice Brings Its Shopping Companion & Shipment Tracker To Tablets, Goes Android-First
Mobile shopping assistant Slice has just launched a new version of its Android application today, that brings a full-screen, better optimized experience designed for those using Android tablets. This is the company’s first tablet application, in fact, arriving ahead of Slice’s expected iPad debut. The new app doesn’t yet work on Kindle Fire devices, however, nor will Slice confirm an expected launch date for its iPad release at this time. But one would imagine the company is working to bring those to consumers as soon as possible, given that we’re now approaching the busiest time of the year for shopping, both online and off. The choice to go Android-first seems odd, given that so many retailers report the majority of mobile shoppers arrive from iOS. (Perhaps it’s worth noting that one of Slice’s backers is Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, then). The company, which raised $23 million in Series B funding this summer, rolled out its first major update to Slice just last month, introducing support for product recall notifications for the first time. This is now one of the flagship features in the Slice app, which also helps users track their order confirmations, shipments, online spending, and price drops for select retailers. Today, Slice works with a number of retailers for this latter feature, including, Home Depot, Zappos, REI, Best Buy, Bonobos, Nordstrom, NewEgg, HSN, Hanes, Bath & Body Works, Jo-Ann, Avon, Crate&Barrel,, MacMall, and others. The service itself integrates with users’ email inboxes in order to keep an eye on their shopping and spending behaviors, aggregating e-receipts and other automated shopping-related messages, and making sense of their buying patterns and keeping them alerted to any changes. On Android, the new app out this morning will now feature large images of everything you’ve bought so far, each annotated with key product information and shipping statuses. And it continues to support all the features found on mobile versions, including the newly added recall notices. Also new is a map feature, which lets you track your packages in real-time. (See above). Presumably, the Slice iPad app, when it arrives, will be similar. The company declines to offer details on its user numbers, actives, or app downloads, but says that it has processed more than 100 million items to date for a total purchase value of over $3.2 billion, which is up from 90 million and $3 billion just a month ago. The new app is available now

November 12 2013

Pounce, The App That Helps Shoppers Find Items Using Image Recognition, Is Now A Deals Browser, Too
Pounce, a recently launched mobile shopping app that allows consumers to snap photos of items found in circulars, print ads, and catalogs in order to purchase directly from their smartphones, is out with a new version today that improves the overall experience and helps you find and compare deals. The Tel Aviv-based startup has been tackling one of the tougher problems with mobile commerce: checkout. While a number of companies, from Pinterest to Wanelo and many others, have improved product discovery by leaps and bounds, when it comes to actually buying the items you fall in love with, users are typically redirected to a retailer’s website, which may or may not be mobile-optimized. They then get frustrated with the checkout process, and often just give up. Pounce, however, has been designed to make mobile shopping work in just a few taps. And the way it goes about getting products in front of consumers is interesting, too. When the app first launched, it offered image recognition capabilities that let you simply snap a photo of an item advertised in some sort of printed material – there’s no barcode or QR code to scan. Instead, the company works with retailer partners and third parties to build up its product database, linking item photos to inventory and pricing information. As CEO  Avital Yachin explains, “within, literally, 20 to 30 seconds…you can use our app to scan the item, the application will automatically recognize the item, and we allow you to purchase the item in just one or two clicks.” “The whole point is that you don’t have to type in your billing information and shipping information over and over again,” he says. “It’s two-click checkout from major retailers.” To be clear, shoppers aren’t buying from Pounce, but are purchasing directly from the retailer, via the application, at the same price as if they bought directly from the retailer’s website. And with the simplified checkout option, retailers have the opportunity to compete against Amazon’s patented one-click checkout. Currently, Pounce supports retailers like Macy’s, Ace Hardware, Target, Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us, Staples, and more are on the way. Yachin says Pounce plans to support a few other retailers before the holidays, including Best Buy.  In the updated version of the mobile app, out today, the company has added a couple of new features that make this kind of mobile shopping experience more feature-complete when compared

November 11 2013

Flipboard Debuts Catalogs, Shoppable Magazines Built By Brand Advertisers, Celeb Curators & Users, Too
Flipboard is inching into Pinterest's territory today with the launch of a new "shopping" category which allows e-commerce brands turn their online stores into flippable, shoppable catalogs, complete with pricing info and big, red "buy" buttons for the items they sell. Meanwhile, everyday users are also now able to build catalogs of their own, using the updated "" button for web browsers. The company has several new launch partners for its new catalogs, including eBay, Banana Republic, Fab, Birchbox, and ModCloth, as well existing partners like Etsy and Levi's.

November 06 2013

Gratafy Lets You Send Food & Drink Gifts To Friends Using Just Their Email Or Phone Number
Starting today, you can send your friends and family members gifts using only their email address or phone number. This new trick comes from Gratafy, a Seattle-based social gifting platform launched last year, which lets you digitally share gifts that everyone generally likes: food and drinks. The gifts come from participating restaurants and bars in Los Angeles and Gratafy’s hometown of Seattle. You can think of the service as an new take on the restaurant gift card, but one you can buy from the web or your phone, and offering a broader selection of cards than just those for big chain restaurants – like you might pick up at your local drug store, for instance. The service is aimed at those who need to buy gifts for people who are hard to shop for, or for any other occasion where you might opt for a gift card over a physical (and let’s be honest, more thoughtful) present. Previously, users could login to Gratafy using Facebook, and their friend would then receive the gift you chose – a fruity cocktail from a favorite bar, an entree, a dessert, etc. – via email, text, or Facebook. Participating restaurants like Gratafy because it gives them another way to sell their full-price menu items and potentially reach new users. Meanwhile, Gratafy makes its money by taking a small percentage of merchant gift revenue.  It says extra dollars added to the menu price are sales tax, and they also include tip (15-20% stipulated by each merchant) in each gift. But Gratafy’s Facebook requirement also limited how Gratafy could be used. That is, you could only send gifts to Facebook friends. Now you can send to anyone you have an email address or phone number for. Users can also choose to login using only an email address themselves, instead of authenticating with Facebook. To date, the company has partnered with close to 250 restaurants in Seattle and Los Angeles, including Seattle’s Tavern Law, Ethan Stowell Restaurants, John Howie Steak, and Tom Douglas, as well as Los Angeles-based Paiche, The Hudson, and Sassafras among others.  However, when Gratafy expanded to L.A. in August, it was reporting around 200 restaurant partners, so the service has not grown significantly on the merchant side in the year since – however, that may change soon as the company expands. Gratafy is the kind of service that would see a lot more sales and user growth during big gift-giving seasons, like the holidays, which, according

September 26 2013

Mobile Deal-Finding App Shopular Raises $6.4 Million Series A From Sequoia
While most mobile applications today are heavily concerned with getting users to remember to open them regularly, mobile deal-finding application Shopular has been content to run in the background, alerting consumers to sales and discounts when they’re in a store or mall. Now, its focus on practicality over spammy behavior has paid off, in the form of a $6.4 million Series A round, led by Sequoia Capital. Sequoia’s Tim Lee will also join Shopular’s board of directors. The startup had previously raised a seed round from Y Combinator and other angel investors, including Adam D’Angelo. Shopular first emerged just ahead of the 2012 holiday season, after participation in Y Combinator’s Winter 2012 batch. Founded by former Shopkick engineers, Navneet Loiwal and Tommy Tsai, Shopular offers a different take on mobile deal-finding than their previous company’s solution. “We have a lot of respect for Shopkick for showing the world mobile can be used in novel ways for physical retail,” says Loiwal. However, the team wanted to build something that was more intuitive and logical for consumers. Where Shopkick is about rewarding users about walking into stores and making purchases, Shopular is tap on the shoulder letting you know why you should walk into a store. The company uses its own proprietary technology to source deals, grabbing everything posted online, emailed offers, and even items posted to retailers’ Facebook Pages. It combines these into a deals database, which today includes deal info for a majority of retailers here in the U.S., from big names like Walmart, Target, Home Depot and others, down to speciality women’s clothing retailers, beauty brands, jewelry stores, kids’ shops, and more. Consumers, meanwhile, can configure the app further by selecting their favorite stores, or opting in to hear about upcoming sales, but as Loiwal had previously explained, “the minimum you need to do is put the app on your phone. Forget about the app, and you’ll start saving money every time you go out shopping.” Today Shopular works in 40,000 store locations across all 50 U.S. states, giving it coverage on nearly every mall, strip mall, or standalone big box store. Loiwal declined to provide user numbers or engagement metrics, however, only pointing at the app’s 10,000 some ratings on iTunes and Google Play, where it has a 5-star and 4.8-star rating, respectively. He also noted that Shopular’s demographics are 80 percent female, with two distinct groups – teenagers
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