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Shopping (and spending) made easier

Emily Crone

Have you ever shown up at the mall knowing exactly what item you are looking for, but had no idea where to begin? A company called NearbyNow has a mobile solution that may help you shop more efficiently, though by consequence it may allow you to spend money with more ease.

NearbyNow allows consumers to use the Web to find in-stock items at 200 different malls. Here’s how it works: You go to the site, select your state, then the shopping center you want to visit. You then enter your search term. Need black pants? Type it in and you are brought to what looks like an online store with images of all the different pants and their prices. A list of stores offering the item, such as Banana Republic and Dillard’s, are listed on the left, along with the number of various products each store offers.

Once you see one you like, you hit the “check store inventory” button. You then provide information such as your preferred size, color and quantity and select whether you want it to be put on hold or just to find out if it’s available. Provide your e-mail address (and mobile phone number if you want to also receive a text), and you will be notified in under 10 minutes as to whether your dream pants are available. A map of the mall shows you exactly where to go to attain your goods.

According to an article in Mobile Insider, NearbyNow noticed many users were actually accessing the site from smart phones when physically in malls. Because of this, the company is planning to launch a site specifically for mobile users, which will include mall maps and a store directory.  A NearbyNow iPhone application is currently in the works.

Mobile Insider predicts that in the near future, NearbyNow’s technologies will evolve to allow competing retailers to get wind of your search and eventual destination and will send text message ads to your smart phone relevant to what you’re looking for. “A competitor could poach you with a special discount, so you might buy those Adidas shoes from Foot Locker instead of the original destination. The mall could turn into an exciting place, where shop keeps actually vie for your business in real time,” the article says. Until businesses start competing for your business in real time, however, you can sign up with NearbyNow to have “hot deals” sent to your mobile on a weekly basis.

This is all grand and fun, and is sure to make shopping a less excruciating experience for those who just want to get in and get out, but for mall rats, this may fuel the shopping fervor. Any time you need something, you can find out exactly where to go. Targeted ads and deals sent to your phone direct you to the nearest store. If you are a major impulse shopper or can’t get that credit card debt under control, it could be a disaster. But who knows — this could actually help impulse shoppers stay more focused and plan the shopping experience ahead of time.

All this new mobile shopping technology is not only handy for shoppers: A case study on NearbyNow’s Web site says The Body Shop greatly benefited from being part of a NearbyNow pilot program. During the pilot, when consumers searched for personal care products on NearbyNow’s Web site, the two Body Shop lines being promoted were highlighted as “NEW.” Banner advertisements promoting the new lines accompanied all search results and online coupons redeemable in Body Shop stores were offered on some mall sites. Average same-store sales increased by nearly double digits and some store locations increased sales as much as three times the average store revenues.

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  • Getting the mall legwork done by computer is truly cool. Especially for someone like me, who wants to go in, get what I need, and get out.
    Thanks for the heads up. I’d never heard of this.
    Sounds like a stumble is in order-
    Lisa