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What problem does your solution solve?
It’s 2 hours before your big event and you just found out that you’re going to need more plates. Or maybe it’s the day before your vacation to Bermuda but your charger just broke and you don’t want to have to pay 2x the price for one at the airport. Whether you live in a small town or big city, you're plagued with a variety of retail stores to choose from to find your product. When you're looking to order an item online for the best price, many people typically utilize Amazon; however, when you're looking to obtain an item in person for the best price, the only option is to either go store to store comparing prices or just settle for the first item you find, however overpriced it might be.
But after going store to store to find the best price for an item, you may find that none of the stores you searched even carry your item! Retail Trail is an app that stores the items and prices of retail stores around you, making it easy for you to find the product you need at the best price.
What’s the market potential for your solution?
Millions of people shop at retail stores each day. Most of those people would like to save money on the goods they purchase. Despite the belief the eCommerce is destroying the retail industry, the growth rate of the retail industry is actually increasing year by year (Source: NRF). No matter how popular eCommerce becomes, there will always be people who either need to buy something in person due to time constraints or simply prefer to purchase in retail rather than online. This means that Retail Trail will be able to be used by the millions of people who shop at retail stores every day.
Who are your customers?
We are a B2B company, but we depend upon users using our service. We offer businesses the opportunity to have their products in front of users through both search results and advertisements. While we are including the products of small businesses (or "Ma and Pa Shops"), we do not expect these businesses to advertise with us or pay for inclusion into our database because they will be more likely to work with us in the beginning and they may not have sufficient funds. Thus, our main customers will be the large retail stores that have the financial ability to pay to either include their products in our database or advertise their products among the search results.
How will you reach your customers?
As Peter Thiel, the co-founder of Paypal, said in his book Zero to One, "Dominate a small niche and scale up from there". For the initial traction, we hope to personally talk to retail customers and owners of retail stores in the town that we live in. While this may help us with customers in our area, we will still need to tackle the rest of the market for this strategy is not scalable. To do so, we plan on emailing retail stores that have 2-5 chains and inviting them to work with Retail Trail. Unfortunately, we will likely not be able to utilize this tactic for smaller businesses due to the fact that most do not have websites where we can contact them. In addition to emailing, we plan on creating a "VIP" program for users of the app. Users can sign up to become a "Retail Trail VIP" for free, and will have the opportunity to earn money for users that they refer and commission on the payments of retail stores that have joined Retail Trail due to their efforts.
How will you make money?
If a store is seeking to join Retail Trail and there is no other store within two miles that is on Retail Trail, then that store will be able to join for free. The cost for joining Retail Trail will increase slightly as the number of stores in close proximity increases. This strategy would be necessary because at first, retail stores in an area may be skeptical about Retail Trail (hence the free join); however, once they hear that a store near them is using Retail Trail, they will want to join not not only because they realize that this product cannot be so terrible if a store close to them is using it but also because they do not want to lose customers to another retail store.
In addition, we hope to have an advertising option for stores. They can either advertise their store name or a product in their store. Given all the information of a user's location and searches that we have, our targeted PPC ads will have high click through rates.
What kind of partners will you need to make, support and distribute your solution?
We will partner with stores that do not have their inventory available on a website so that we can receive a spreadsheet of their items and prices. For the stores that do have their inventory available online. a simple web scraper can be used to create a list of their inventory and prices. It may be beneficial to partner with Aisle 411, an app that shows where exactly in a store an item is located, because they align with our mission of saving customers time when shopping at retail stores.
What will your expenses include?
There are two areas that the costs fall into: technology costs and advertising costs.
The technology includes the website and the API's. The website prototype is already made and does not need outsourcing to be finished. The Google API used would cost at most $100 / year.
Since Retail Trail is only effective and appealing to our business customers if a large number of users utilize the site, advertising is essential. If the VIP program were to take off, at $.15 / user referral it is unlikely that the VIP fees for user referrals would total more than $500. The 10% commission paid to those who refer retail stores to use Retail Trail will likely not cost us more than $250 in potential profit. The Google and Facebook ads used will cost us another $250.
Who is your competition and how do you differ?
While there is no other website that holds the inventories of retail stores, certain large chains may have their own site. For example, CVS has an option to search for items, see the price, and see if a store near you has it. However, not only is their interface confusing and cluttered, but they are only one store. People want to find the best deals of the stores around them, and any one chain's site cannot accomplish this. It would be tedious and cumbersome to individually search each website's database. That is where Retail Trail comes in.
Another similar company aforementioned is Aisle 411. They tell you the exact location in a store than an item resides. With the information and data they have on retail stores, it may be possible for them to create a Retail Trail clone. However, Aisle 411 is currently a small company with limited resources, so it is more likely for them to partner with us or build upon their current business model than compete with us.