The U.S. online shopping world's biggest day is here, but will strong web sales on Black Friday and Thanksgiving cut into Cyber Monday's take?
Pounce places orders directly through retailers’ e-commerce sites on behalf of shoppers.
A new app allows shoppers to scan images of items in print advertising and buy them right away from the seller’s e-commerce site. Called Pounce, the iPhone app places an order with a retailer on behalf of the mobile shopper. It works without requiring the retailer to make any changes to its e-commerce technology—to a web site, Pounce shoppers appear to be placing their own orders as usual.
Pounce, which is based in Tel Aviv, Israel, launched this week at digital marketing company Shoplocal LLC’s Annual Retail Summit in Chicago. Shoplocal, a Gannett company, provides web versions of retailer’s print circulars.
“Print media is a great shopping tool for consumers, but it comes with a time delay between the initial intent and the actual transaction,” says Avital Yachin, Pounce’s founder and CEO. “Pounce removes that interruption, empowering consumers with the option to purchase a product right then and there, instead of going online or driving to a store.”
Pounce will soon also provide retailers with reporting on how their offline advertising drives online sales, he says. Tracking purchases through the app will help reveal which types of print ads are more likely to lead to impulse buys, for example.
When consumers download Pounce, it first asks them to enter their shipping and billing information. The data is stored on the consumer’s smartphone and Pounce never accesses it, only transmits it from her phone to retailers’ web sites, which helps secure their credit card information, Yachin says.
To use the app, a shopper opens its scanner tool, which uses the smartphone camera to view images and match them to the ones in Pounce’s database, and holds it steady for about one second in front of any item in a piece of print advertising. Pounce pulls up the same image with its product details, including options like size, color, or price. It also automatically fills the e-retailer’s checkout pages with the shopper’s shipping and billing information so that it can show the shopper the exact sales tax, shipping costs, and estimated delivery times, Yachin says. For unavailable items, it displays an “out of stock” message.
The shopper can tap “Buy Later” to save any product to a list or “Buy Now” to purchase. After hitting “Buy Now,” a pop-up window asks her to confirm the purchase. From then on, the follow-up communications about her order, including purchase, shipping and delivery confirmations e-mails, come directly from retailer’s e-commerce site.
Shoppers always pay the online price, even if it is different from what is printed in the circular, though retailers usually match their web prices with those in their print promotions, Yachin says. However, because Pounce regularly checks for price updates, items a shopper saves in the app may have changed in price when she returns to buy them later, he says.
So far, U.S. consumers can use Pounce to shop print ads and circulars from Staples Inc., Ace Hardware, Toys ‘R’ Us Inc., Babies ‘R’ Us Inc. and Target Corp., according to Yachin. Pounce operates as an affiliate marketer for those retailers, earning their standard affiliate fees on purchases consumers make through the app, he says.
The app uses image recognition technology to identify the products in its database. Shoplocal provides the database information from its electronic versions of retailers’ most current weekly circulars across the nation. The details include the product images, details and links to the exact page on the retailers’ e-commerce sites where they can be found.
“Pounce helps along this transition from print to digital and bridges that gap in a frictionless way,” both for consumers and retailers, says Lester Holze, vice president of business development at Shoplocal. The company is currently testing Pounce on behalf of its clients, he says. He declines to reveal the terms of the agreement between the two vendors.
Shoplocal works with large retailers including Staples Inc., No. 2 in the 2013 Top 500 Guide, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., No. 4; Target Corp., No. 13, Lowe’s Cos. Inc., No. 44; Walgreen Co., No 36; and The Home Depot Inc., No. 46, he says.
Toys ‘R’ Us is No. 30 in the 2013 Top 500.