Building ecommerce, promotions, search, social and same day delivery services around store inventory is one of those high concept “local” concepts that always make so much sense but have been tough to build around.
Intuit and eBay have both purchased inventory services (StepUp and Milo) and have integrated their capabilities into their other local services. eBay, for instance, has built the suite of services in eBay Local around Milo. Other key players in the space include JiWire (via its acquisition of NearbyNow), Wishpond and Retailigence. All focus on larger retailers with multiple locations, rather than mom and pops.
Retailigence, a three year old, Silicon Valley-based company backed by $4.3 Million from DFJ, Quest Venture Partners, and Dave McClure, stands out by taking an enterprise-oriented, B2B approach.
“We are 100 percent B2B. We don’t have a consumer-facing website or app, but thousands of applications rely on Retailigence in the backend,” says CEO and founder Jeremy Geiger, who comes from a supply chain management background. A major partner, for instance, is SAP, which provides management software to mid-and-large sized retailers.
The company uses point of sales (POS) integrations to gain access to real time inventory and product data, and currently works with 100,000 stores from 325 retailers. It is “a totally different use” of POS than what loyalty services such as FiveStars and Belly are doing, which is attaching sales information to individual buyers, says Geiger. “It is the inventory modules. The data is very specific. It has product, inventory and price and some description of the product.”
It is also different than the ecommerce approach taken by Google and others, which wait for sales to check inventory. “While they experiment with the use of local data in different ways, at best they are getting daily feeds from retailers. It doesn’t enable true online to offline commerce,” argues Geiger.
Geiger says that one of the fastest growing uses of Retailigence’s inventory data is to coordinate between brands and stores. Consumers have been trained to type in store names, but when they are out and about, they really want to type in what they are looking for (i.e. “iPhone charger”). “It is a more efficient and effective way” to search for goods that will spur more sales, he says – especially to smaller retailers that are often left out of the equation.