The office supplies retailer say it sacrificed some sales to improve online profitability. It also redesigned its business-facing e-commerce site, StaplesAdvantage.com.
BuyVia sends consumers alerts when the products they want are available.
A new tool for multichannel comparison shopping, BuyVia, launches today on the web and for Apple Inc.’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The web site and app allow consumers to compare price and product information for 80 million products in 25 categories, BuyVia says. The app allows customers to set up notifications that alert them when a product they are seeking becomes available at a desired price, either online or in a nearby store, according to the company.
A consumer creates a free account with BuyVia and logs in with a user name and password on the web site or on the app. Consumers can elect to use their Twitter, Google or Yahoo account credentials to log in to BuyVia. When logged in, consumers are presented with the same information and preferences regardless of whether they’re accessing BuyVia on a computer, tablet or smartphone. The app is free to download in the Apple App Store; an Android version will be available next year.
“As mobile and online shopping continue to explode, so has the volume and inconsistent quality of shopping tools, leaving consumers feeling overwhelmed with the glut of information they have to sort through to find the products they desire,” contends Norman Fong, co-founder and CEO of BuyVia.“Even when they find deals for the products they want, they really don’t know if they’ve actually found the best product and value combination out there.”
BuyVia offers exclusive deals through partnerships with retailers and deal aggregator sites, including Amazon.com, HP, Newegg, PriceGrabber, Dell, Milo, TigerDirect and Sony, the company says. The database contains more than 11,000 merchants for now, BuyVia says,and it plans to add several thousand more each month.
The app is designed to have a modern look and feel reminiscent of Apple and Pinterest, Fong says, with an emphasis on images. A grid of product images appears when they log in for the first time; consumers tap items on the grid to select which categories interest them. They can also save a shopping list with desired prices for items, which they can use to set up availability and offer alerts, Fong says.
The app uses a geolocation technology that updates a shopper’s location only when a consumer makes a major change in position and then only if she allows it, in order to save battery life, Fong adds.
Additionally, the app includes a bar code and QR code scanner so that shoppers may scan items they look at in a store and either compare prices online from there or store the product information in the app for later. Shoppers can share products in the app via Facebook, Twitter, e-mail or text message, Fong says.
To begin with, the company is focusing the launch on larger, well-known retailers, and the consumer electronics product category in particular, he says. “When you initially launch the app or web site, you’ll see some key deals that have particular interest to our customer base,” he says of the technology and electronics category. “That is hand-curated.”
In that category, BuyVia has also written its own product descriptions so that consumers need not wade though long lists of hard-to-understand product specifications, Fong says. “We don’t just blindly take something that a merchant sends us,” he says. The product reviews and recommendations are written by BuyVia staff and experts in the category, Fong says, without highly technical language so that a busy mom, for example, can find what she needs without spending hours going through forums and figuring out a deal’s real value.
Retailers, too, will benefit from the app because it gives them access to qualified customers, Fong says. “These people are interested in purchasing products—that’s why they’re using our app and web site,” he says, adding that the app’s embrace of mobile commerce technology will also make participating retailers seem up to date.