Startups make smartphones more useful for buyers and sellers
Vancouver startup TikTok aims to give local retailers
the ability to offer customers what CEO Dorian Banks calls “virtual
by Alan Zisman (c) 2012
published in Business in
Vancouver October 9, 2012 Issue #1198 High Tech
marketplace communities is crucial for employers and employees. That
message was hammered home at the recent Grow Conference in Vancouver by
people like Martin-Luc Archambault of Wajam.
His Montreal-based company uses the community you already have by
integrating comments posted on social networks by your connections into
your online searches – making search social within the search tools
you're already using.
After setting up an account – free but advertising-supported – relevant
postings from your social networking contacts will appear first in the
search results when you browse in Google, Yahoo, Bing or Twitter.
Looking online for a restaurant in Yaletown? Wajam will blend in what
your Facebook, Twitter and Google+ contacts posted about their
restaurant visits. Try it when shopping for a computer printer or a new
car – assuming your social networking contacts have said anything about
those product categories.
Newly released: support for iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, etc.). Not an
app, Wajam-mobile sneaks its recommendations into search results in the
Safari and Maps apps. Users make this happen by installing a Wajam
Profile on their phone and authorizing it to change the HTTP proxy
settings. (Wajam walks you through the geeky parts.)
Archambault suspects that Apple is not pleased that Wajam is using this back door way to add content to Apple's iOS apps.
Wajam stipulates that it protects users' privacy and does not store
social network passwords or share postings, contents or searches – it
only uses content that its users' social network contacts have agreed
Vancouver startup TikTok aims to give local retailers the ability to
offer customers what CEO Dorian Banks calls "virtual happy hours." When
smartphone or tablet users (iOS or Android) in one of a select number
of cities install the app and set up an account they start receiving
No purchase required? Not quite. On my screen right now, I've got a
golf offer allowing me to "Purchase 1 Green Fee + Get a 2nd Free."
Another offers "Free 20 min Back Massage w. Purchase of Pedicure." And
from a downtown restaurant: "Buy 1 Appetizer + Get 1 Free."
Offers are time limited – the restaurant deal is in effect for the next
six hours and 47 minutes, for instance, and they're geographically
oriented. I gave the app permission to report on my location and
provided optional demographic information: age, gender, home and work
address. Typically offers are sent out to users within a
three-kilometre radius of the retailer.
According to Banks, retailers can use offers to bring in business
during normally slow periods or to help move excess inventory.
Two-for-one last-minute tickets, anyone?
Users of the app can accumulate "karma" points by sharing offers on
Facebook or Twitter; TikTok is giving iPads to users who accumulate
2,500 points. Unlike with, say, Groupon, TikTok users don't pay in
advance. They just display the deal on their phone to the retailer.
In Vancouver, where the service was first offered last spring, there
are more than 30,000 users. The company has expanded to Calgary and San
Francisco and plans to offer the service in Los Angeles next. Even
though there's no formal service in Toronto yet, Banks said that more
than 600 copies of the app have been downloaded there, and Toronto
retailers have expressed interest.
Retailers enrolling with TikTok can send out two deals for free each
week; additional deals cost $25 each with increased cost for offers
that are more targeted.
Tik Tok provides retailers with data about their deals: how many
potential customers received the offer, where they were, how many times
the deal was shared on social networks and more.
Banks says that retailers can target tourists. I'll be in San Francisco
next week; I'll be curious to see if the TikTok app knows I'm there and
gives me local offers aimed at visitors.