With paying merchants on board, Shoplr looks to build user base
At an event in Ames' Campustown on June 9, Shoplr asked people to share what they love.
Shoplr doesn't care what you like, whether that means a casual affection or the click of a button. Shoplr cares about what you love.
"What was truly in our hearts and minds from the beginning has come out," said Sam Schill, one of three co-founders of the Ames-based company. Shoplr (think shopping and Doppler) hopes to cut through the clutter of old and new media to help local businesses connect with the people who love them.
After adding an Android app July 4, the 9-month old local shopping app is ready to focus on growing its user base and expanding to new territories.
Currently, Shoplr has 29 Ames businesses paying $349 per year. Merchants use a web-based service (right), which lets them set up a mobile marketing strategy, whether it's a special promotion, event announcement or simply the flavor of the day.
Those promotions show up in a user's feed. From there, a user is able to redeem it or share it on Twitter or Facebook or send it by email.
Businesses have a variety of ways to promote themselves, between old media advertising and promotions, online advertising, social media, daily deals sites and more; so in a sense Shoplr is competing against the likes of Facebook, Groupon and the established world of newspapers, radio and TV.
But, the founders believe their approach makes them different from those other options. Shoplr hopes to cut through the clutter by only providing information from local businesses (as opposed to Facebook and Twitter, where a business' posts are mixed in with friends, connections and other organizations) giving the businesses complete control over their strategy (as opposed to Groupon, where offers have to include at least a 50 percent discount), and providing instant, mobile updates (as opposed to traditional advertising).
The founders also hope this strategy will prove appealing to users. While Shoplr is part discovery agent, they also want to help users stay informed about businesses they already know and love. Shoplr provides, in one place, information that a user would otherwise have to search all over for. With Dwolla integration, the user can also pay directly from the app.
While the team built Shoplr to serve businesses, their focus will be turning to users as they promote the Android app (left), release a major update for iOS, create a video explaining the app and host a launch party later this summer. So far, Shoplr has around around 700 users in Ames, and their goal is to have 2,000 users by the time Iowa State students return. Then, in the fall, they plan to expand to Des Moines.
Shoplr's long-term goal is to scale the product nationwide, making it useable in different markets. Their strategy is to work with districts (like Ames' Campustown or Main Street Cultural District) to get groups of local businesses to start using it together.
"We're really looking to change the game when it comes to how local businesses and local people connect," Haila said.