We all have a cell phone so I think it will eventually become a great shopping tool. There are several companies trying to wiggle into this space in several different ways. Just wanted to catch you up on some of the latest moves.
GPShopper & Channel Intelligence (CI)
These guys announced their partnership a couple weeks back. The release (put out by Channel Intelligence) touts the company’s SellCore Platform Solutions ‘expansion into the mobile market’. Sellcore is CI’s data feed management and optimization service for retailers. It’s not clear from the press release how this service is being offered to merchants – is it free? an upsell? – or if any of CI’s clients are going to participate in the partnership. While the retailers which take part won’t get much traffic from GPShopper (becuase GPShopper requires a user to download an application), it’s a nice differentiator for CI as retailers have probably thought about mobile but have no idea how to execute. As for GPShopper, it would be a big publicity win for the company if it could advertise that Circuit City, Discovery Channel, Baby Center, and Northern Tool (and more of CI’s clients) are available through the application.
As I think about mobile shopping more and more, I end up drinking a lot of Frucall kool-aid. And I have to say it tastes great. Why? Because Frucall doesn’t require me to do anything new or different like download an application. Frucall doesn’t even require me to send a text message. Which means that the opportunity for Frucall is massive…everyone who knows how to use a cell phone can use Frucall as opposed to some other services which rely on the cell phone user needing some sort of data service. And yes, cell phone users are rapidly adopting data services (these services are key to the survival of the wireless providers), but penetration is still low.
Ok, as for the announcements, I have some catching up to do.
-Frucall has integrated APIs from Amazon, Yahoo! Shopping, and StreetPrices (nice choices, Nasser!).
-Frucall introduced Frucall Text. Ok, I know I just got done saying that no one has data services, but for those of us who do, this is a great feature…basically, if you like what you hear through Frucall, you can get a text message with the information (retailers, prices).
-Frucall introduced ‘Buddy List Messenger’. This is the first mistake I’ve seen the company make as Frucall is positioning the buddy list as a social networking feature. When companies start to use buzz words like that, I start to lose interest. This isn’t your core competency, Frucall. Stay away from it.
Google & Neven Vision…Riya…Scanbuy.
Funny, one of my readers, Mark Evans from Telic Media told me about Neven Vision back in May. Guess I should have followed up on that one a bit sooner! Anyways, you can read News.com’s report on Google’s acquisition of Neven, and I’m sure Google will do very cool things with the technology, but I’m most excited about the potential commerce applications…especially for women. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a girlfriend (or friend who is a girl) say to another girl ‘That looks great. Where did you get it? Who makes it?’ Neven Vision could make those questions unnecessary. With the Neven Vision technology, you could potentially just take a picture of the boots, dress, ring, or jeans with the digital camera on your phone and get recommendations of similar products (or eventually, when the product database is comprehensive enough, that exact product) plus comparison pricing information. Not clear if that’s where Neven Vision was going with its technology before the acquisition (I’m not the mobile whiz), but I love this idea. Seems very sci-fi to me.
But if you think it’s fiction, you’re wrong. Riya is going to launch a web version of this exact service in the next couple months. Since starting to cover online shopping, only three features/services have blown me away. Riya is one of those, and I haven’t even used the service yet. All I have to go on is Munjal Shah’s Riya 2.0 Roadmap post which includes the following screenshot.
The post also shows a ‘search by color’ feature similar to what ShopWiki and Etsy offer. And of course, there’s mention of ‘search by camera phone’. This is one company to watch out for. Definitely subscribe to Munjal’s blog and check out his ‘Questions about Riya and Google’ post for a little Neven Vision/Riya/Google background.
Ok, then there’s SCANBUY (I almost don’t want to post about them because they’ve capitalized all the letters in the company name. Grrrr.) I’m going to skip over Scanbuy Shopper because it’s a downloadable application. Sorry, but even cell phone users subscribing to data services aren’t going to deal with this…you need to get on the deck…so I’ll talk about this when they ink the deal with Verizon! It’s the same problem that GPShopper has.
But there’s hope for Scanbuy if they can just dumb down their solution.
I should be able to walk into a store, take a picture of a barcode, txt msg that picture to Scanbuy (thus avoiding the downloadable application), have them query their database, do a price comparison, and return results through a txt msg. I didn’t check with my cell phone industry friends to figure out why this is not happening right now, and I didn’t check with Scanbuy. I’m sure someone will put me in my place before morning, but right now the txt msg route seems much smarter than the downloadable application route.
Just a couple things to thing about in the wild world of mobile commerce.