ShopAdvisor Buys Retailigence to Marry Mobile With In-Store Shopping

ShopAdvisor has acquired Retailigence in a tie-up of two marketing technology startups that highlights a push by brands and retailers to get smarthphone-wielding shoppers to make purchases in stores.

The deal price wasn’t disclosed.

ShopAdvisor was founded in 2011 as Evoqu and initially launched with an app that allows shoppers to scan barcodes of items and receive price comparisons for a product across different sellers. The app also tracks prices over time and sends users mobile alerts when there are discounts on items in which they’ve shown interest.

ShopAdvisor still offers a consumer-facing app, which has been downloaded more than 2 million times. But the company has expanded its focus to offer several products and services—such as native advertising tools and analysis of consumer purchasing habits—to retailers, brands, and media publishers.

ShopAdvisor’s goal is to make it easier for consumers to discover products on their mobile devices, and then guide them through an in-store purchase. Say a young man is reading a fashion magazine on his tablet and a tie catches his eye. He might click for more information, but pass on ordering it. A week later, he walks by a store that sells the tie, and a notification on his phone alerts him that it’s on sale. If all works as planned, he walks in and buys it.

ShopAdvisor accomplishes this through location-based marketing, which utilizes the GPS on a user’s smartphone and small sensors installed in retail outlets that detect when a target consumer is nearby. (ShopAdvisor says it only sends push notifications if a user gives permission, and it sends alerts sparingly and only for products relevant to the person.)

ShopAdvisor already tracks more than 210 million products available online or in brick-and-mortar stores. With its purchase of Redwood City, CA-based Retailigence, ShopAdvisor gains the ability to track in real time the availability of those products across 200,000 physical stores, according to a press release.

There are several trends at work here. Despite the rise of Amazon and its e-commerce brethren, the vast majority of shopping still happens in person at brick-and-mortar outlets, ShopAdvisor says. That’s good for brands and retailers because consumers are more likely to follow through on a purchase—and buy more stuff—when they’re in a store. The trick is getting consumers there.

At the same time, mobile devices are playing a bigger role in the buying process, starting with discovering products and continuing in the store. Consumers often consult their phones to do research while looking at products in the aisles.

“As traditional online advertising becomes increasingly ineffective, publishers, brands, and retailers know they must shift their ad strategy so that it aligns with how consumers want to be engaged,” ShopAdvisor CEO Jeff Papows says in a release announcing the acquisition. “We see the need for a completely integrated path to purchase, through the media, where consumers are influenced, staying connected through the transaction—online or at a local retailer. It’s the right time to integrate these things as brands focus their spending on the mobile consumer, yet still recognizing the critical importance of brick-and-mortar commerce.”

Papows joined ShopAdvisor in January, taking over for founding CEO Scott Cooper. The company has raised at least $7.8 million from investors, according to SEC filings, although a recent New York Times story pegged it at $11 million. Retailigence has raised at least $5.7 million, SEC filings show.

The deal is ShopAdvisor’s first acquisition, the Boston Business Journal reported.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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