A new shopping and sale finder app called ShopDrop, also the Audience Choice winner from our recent TechCrunch NYC pitch-off, is now live on the iTunes App Store. Today the service helps users, mainly New Yorkers, find nearby sales, both at larger retailers and smaller boutiques, but the company plans to expand its coverage to more major cities in the future.
At launch, ShopDrop’s online feed of sales, deals and new products is national, but its best feature – the map of in-store deals and sample sales – is only available in NYC.
The company notes that there’s only one other iOS application for NY sample sales, and it’s fairly buggy.
Founded by Cory Bishop and William DeMuro, bootstrapped ShopDrop was originally conceived after Bishop’s move to NYC. He noticed the large number of boutiques, and was curious as to how he or anyone could stay up-to-date with their latest offerings, along with sample sales. He quickly realized how fragmented it was for these small stores to try to get the word out via newsletters and social media, and even street side chalkboards, at times.
The app today competes in the same general space as a number of deal-finding and alerting utilities, including things likeSequoia Capital-backedShopular, RetailMeNot, Zoomingo, Shopkick, Flipp and others. But unlike some competitors, the company isn’t just digitizing the sales data publicly available on other sources, like retailer websites, newsletters or Facebook pages – it’s also working to bring smaller shops onto the platform, too. And it’s this focus on the small boutiques that helps ShopDrop differentiate itself.
Currently, the company has data for larger chains like Anthropologie, American Apparel, Armani Exchange, Banana Republic, Brooks Brothers, Uniqlo, Free People, H&M, Express, Gap and others, as well as smaller shops like Bird, A.P.C., DQM, Opening Ceremony, Oak, Surface To Air, and more. There are around 80 total stores live at present, half of which are big-name retailers.
ShopDrop gathers its data from a variety of sources. The team built an algorithm that sweeps up all the boutique’s data from email newsletters and social media feeds, with some additional curation on top for timestamps and keywords. For larger stores, the company uses public APIs. Plus, ShopDrop works directly with boutique owners, and has partnered with Stylish City (and soon, others) for sample sale listings.
How It Works
Consumers customize the app by selecting their favorite stores, and then can be alerted via push notifications when there’s a new event at one of those locations, whether that’s a special promotion, new product, or otherwise. The notifications work when the app is running in the background, and ShopDrop will also notify you based on proximity, so you’re alerted to deals when you’re actually nearby.
The company is now working to develop a dashboard for retailers where they could view consumer analytics and customize their messages. This is now in piloting testing with a few boutiques like Ferris NY and La Petite Mort.
Eventually, ShopDrop plans to allow the businesses to post directly to the app (with some moderation, of course, so users aren’t spammed.) The client posting and business profile would be free, but a tiered subscription model would come into play that lets the retailer offer in-store messaging and foot traffic analytics via iBeacons, alongside ShopDrop’s own analytics, history and usage.