The first wave of shopping apps have largely been aimed at helping consumers find deals, often at the cost of brick-and-mortar retailers. In many cases, the big winner has been Amazon (s amzn), which managed to siphon off sales from retail stores, which can act like showrooms for consumers who end up buying online.
But a Bay Area start-up is looking to come to the aid of retailers while still giving consumers a good deal and a reason to keep shopping in-store. Pricetector, which launched a beta price adjustment app and website called Savvy.com in November, is rebranding the company and service under the name Eyeona, as it looks to become an even more useful tool to both consumers and retailers. It also announced that it bought up SavvyCircle, a another shopping service which it will use to add more wish list and price notification features to its product.
Eyeona, based in Los Gatos, Calif., takes its names from the idea that consumers like to keep an “eye on a” product, whether it’s something they want to buy in the future or something they’ve bought in the past and want to make sure they got the best deal on. The service, under the name Savvy.com, has gotten the most notice for its ability to do price adjustments for consumers, helping alert them when a product they recently bought from a supported retailer has lowered the price and will offer price adjustments.
The service has signed up 100,000 users since launching and has helped alert consumers to $3 million in potential savings. It has also increased the number of retailers it signed up to 110 merchants, including Neiman-Marcus, Abercrombie & Fitch (s anf), Lens Crafters and Barnes & Noble (s bks). It’s available on iOS (s aapl) and Android apps (s goog) and though a website.
Eyeona will continue to be a way for consumers to find the best prices on products they already bought. Users can take a picture of a receipt of a product from a supported retailer or email an online receipt to Eyeona and if it goes on sale within a certain amount of time, Eyeona will alert users who can go back into a store and get paid the difference. The company is now piloting a program that lets retailers automatically send out gift cards for the amount of a price adjustment to users, even if they don’t come into the store. It’s also poised to announce a deal to roll out its services to a membership organization with 2 million members.
In addition, it’s also working on a building out its “deal maker” and “watch list” features with the addition of the SavvyCircle acquisition. Previously, users were able to scan the barcode of a product they wanted to buy and Savvy would alert them when the price hits a certain point that they’ve previously indicated they were willing to pay. They were also able to keep a list of items they wanted to buy and Savvy would alert them when they went on sale. Now, Eyeona will incorporate SavvyCircle’s more personalized wish lists and the ability to share items through social channels.
The goal, said Paul Patterson, co-founder of Eyeona, is to help retailers build a stronger relationship with consumers and provide retailers with more tools to address a consumer’s need for better prices and more service. He said while many first generation shopping apps were aimed at sticking it to retailers, he said Eyeona is positioned to bridge the gap between merchants and consumers.
“Retailers need to be competitive but what they’re realizing is consumes are not just focused 100 percent on price; it’s relevant but they also need to up their game and service level,” said Patterson .”Eyeona is a way to up their game and service level and give consumers the view you can trust them, because they’ll be proactive in engaging consumers to reduce costs.”
He said while shopping apps like RedLaser (s ebay) and ShopSavvy have often been the enemy for some retailers and have helped divert sales to Amazon, they can also be a way to build back trust and loyalty between retailers and consumers.
I like the Eyeona’s approach and its recognition that retailers need a way to fight back against the rising tide of mobile-enabled shoppers using their stores as show rooms. Eyeona can help consumers feel better about the purchases they make in store and not worry as much about losing out on a better deal online. More importantly, it’s establishing that retailers are willing to forgo some profit to better their relationship with consumers. That can ultimately help foster a stronger bond between a retailer and a customer and encourage more in-store shopping in the future.
Retailers are desperately trying to figure out how to handle the rise of what Om calls the smart buyer — one who is armed with a smartphone and shopping apps. Pew recently reported that half of U.S. shoppers rely on phones for in-store research. Eyeona is emerging as an attractive tool for retailers to help beat back the assault of shopping apps. But more importantly, it’s showing retailers that they need to use mobile and social technology to help establish a better rapport with consumers. They may not be able to beat online prices on many occasions but if they show some effort to better cater to consumers, they can keep many transactions from disappearing. Pew found that among shoppers who conducted online price research, 35 percent still bought the product in the store while 19 percent purchased online. If a retailer can provide some convenience, a competitive price and a willingness to work with consumers, they can stay competitive in this age of the smart buyer. Eyeona is providing one way to do that.