AS the retail market gets more competitive, some marketers are starting to take advantage of on-the-go product search applications that also happen to bring together two intrinsic tween/teen passions – shopping and cell phones. GPShopper’s Slifter mobile application lets consumers search for a product by keyword and call up an product’s image, description, price, promotional information and maps to local stores that have it in stock. The company also recently teamed up with Sprint to offer a GPS-enabled version of the software that can conduct a search without the user having to input a zip code, area code or address, and it guarantees its closest location results.
Though GPShopper CEO Alex Muller says he isn’t able to pinpoint the exact age of Slifter users, based on the items that are hunted down most often, he estimates the range to be somewhere between 15 and 35. ‘They aren’t searching for sofas or Viking ranges,’ he explains, adding that video games and skinny jeans rank up there as some of the more popular queries.
In addition to the basic function of offering instant consumer research and retail directions, the social aspect of the proposition is not lost on GPShopper. Slifter’s shopping list service doubles as a viral campaign of sorts because users can send items from their own stored lists to friends. As well, Muller says, ‘kids are suggesting to their parents what they want via Slifter.’ The company has also put together co-marketing promos with various retailers and consumer brands, including signage prompting cell phone carriers to text in a code for coupons, which then touts new products on Slifter.
The stripped-down application is free for download, and the Sprint GPS service costs just US$1.99 a month, so GPShopper’s business model rests on recruiting as many retailers and brands as possible and charging these companies on a pay-for-search basis. So far, the company’s database covers more than 85 million products available in 30,000 retail locations. These include toy specialists Toys ‘R’ Us and KB Toys, as well as chains that do a strong electronics business like RadioShack, Best Buy and Office Max. Muller was reluctant to divulge any customer statistics, but he would say that Slifter’s downloads number in the mid-hundreds of thousands.