New smartphone app aims to ease pain for bricks and mortar retailers

Perth small business Devisd has developed what it says is Australia’s first real-world shopping smartphone app that rewards consumers for their behaviours, which it hopes will push online shoppers back into bricks and mortar stores.

Perth small business Devisd has developed what it says is Australia’s first real-world shopping smartphone app that rewards consumers for their behaviours, which it hopes will push online shoppers back into bricks and mortar stores.

Devisd’s app, aptly named ShopBites, is aimed at leveling the playing field by using rewards to entice customers back into physical shops to interact with products in person. Using geo-location technology and beacons installed in and around stores, ShopBites can detect a consumers’ proximity to specified hotspots at a shopping destination and award points, or ‘bites’, through their smartphones. Accumulated bites can then be redeemed for real rewards. 

ShopBites CEO Richard Johnson says the app can play a pivotal role for retailers in getting shoppers back through the doors of bricks and mortar outlets. 

“ShopBites is a measurable and effective way to tackle the challenges of a struggling industry by delivering increased foot traffic, product engagement, targeted communication and, ultimately, sales from their customers,” Johnson says. “Merchant participants (particularly retailers) in ShopBites get a number of benefits, the most obvious being a channel through which they can direct foot traffic into and around their stores. It's right there on users' smartphones - every day they can check where they can go to claim 'bites'. When merchants offer bites to users, this effectively acts as a lure into their stores.

“Users can get these bites simply by walking into the stores, moving around them, and engaging with products. The more they do this, the more chance there is of them actually buying something. We've developed a beacon technology which can recognise when users comes into range (configurable between 1-50m) and either reward them with bites or send proximity-related messages. For instance, if a user was near a shoe section in a sports store, the merchant can run a pop-up message letting the user know about specials on Nike that day.”

The ShopBites technology is modeled after shopkick, a similar initiative in the US that has delivered tangible results for retailers on that side of the pond. With more than five million users, shopkick counts major US retailers such as Macy’s, Target, Toys ‘R’ Us and Kraft Foods amongst its 7,500 participating outlets. Johnson says that the app also acts as a level playing field for all participating merchants, regardless of the size of the business. 

“If there's any ordering at all, it's by proximity. The small storeowner can have as much exposure within the app as the much larger national chain. ShopBites isn't all about the bites. It also acts as an online brochure where you can advertise specials, create coupons and let users share your special deals. That means potential customers can learn about your offerings right from the comfort of their couch.”

So what will it cost retailers to become a ShopBites partner? 

“In the launch phase we'll foot a lot of the set-up costs,” Johnson says. “Ongoing, the cost is entirely up to the merchant. They can set a budget for how many bites they're prepared to distribute each day. If bites are getting claimed, that means that the app is working. People are being drawn into the store by the offer of bites or something else they've seen within the app. Merchants never pay more than their set budget –  they only pay for foot traffic, which is a direct result of customers using the ShopBites app.”

The ShopBites app available for free for consumers in both Apple’s App Store and Google Play from September. 

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