The search giant today launched an app called Inbox that could force retailers to change their e-mail marketing strategies.
Toys ‘R’ Us is the first retailer to use the new features.
Consumers shopping this holiday season using eBay Inc.’s Milo app for the iPhone could have an easier time helping Old Saint Nick find gifts for their friends and relatives. Milo’s technology enables consumers to search for products from local bricks-and-mortar retailers on the web and through mobile devices.
The newly updated app now enables consumers to pay for products via their PayPal accounts on their iPhones and pick them up in stores. Currently, the feature is enabled only for Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. stores. EBay’s RedLaser app also includes this feature. “By bringing in-app checkout we’re really trying to get shoppers to buy things more easily locally,” says Rob Eroh, head of product and engineering for eBay Local.
Though both the RedLaser and Milo apps can search for local retailer inventory, the Milo app also can search for products that do not have universal product codes, Eroh says, the common bar code consumers scan via the RedLaser app. For example, a retailer may use non-standardized bar codes which scanning technology may not be able to read, but as long as the product is included in the data feed to Milo consumers can search for it by using the text-based search function in the Milo app. Or a retailer may not use bar codes for some merchandise, such as a boutique that sells clothing or artwork. “It’s as simple as having some text about the product,” he says. “We can make it searchable.”
The updated Milo app also can search for products using the iPhone's built-in camera as a bar code scanner. A customer presses a scan button to activate the feature; she points her smartphone camera at the code and the app reads it and retrieves the appropriate information. Other new app features include easier access to viewing a store location on a map via a product page. A tap on the store’s address, which appears once a user taps on a search result, brings up a map without leaving the app. Previously, Milo users had to drill down to store locator screens to gain access to a map, Eroh says.
The new Milo app has a simple design, which Eroh says is essential. “When someone is shopping they want to get information fast,” he says. The Milo home screen has a search box to type a short product name or description and another prefilled to search based on the user’s current location. Users also can type in a ZIP code to search for products in other locations. Users also can tap the Scan a Barcode button from the home screen to search using that function.
Three buttons along the bottom of the home screen take shoppers to the Home page, a Search page and to a purchase history page to view in-app transactions.