While I loathe in-store shopping during the holidays, it’s unfortunately necessary in certain cases. Sometimes you just have to put your shoes on, haul your cookies down to the mall, and let your ears be assaulted by repetitive, soulless Christmas music. (Last December, I was almost two weeks overdue with my son, so I spent several looong days waddling around the mall as part of Operation: Evict Baby.)
There’s nothing worse than going through the effort of going to the store to buy something, only to realize that you missed a sale that you didn’t know was happening. To those hapless shoppers, meet Shopular, a newly launched mobile app for iOS and Android that uses geo-location technology to alert you to nearby sales.
The YC-backed company is rolling out to over 1000 malls nationwide and will also include additional deals from retailers like Target, Walmart, Kohl’s, CVS, JC Penney, Sears, and Kmart (do people still shop at Kmart?).
“Shopular is a ‘smart app.’ It uses not just your geo-location, but your preferences and past behavior as well to trigger relevant coupons through push notifications,” co-founder and CEO Navneet Loiwal told me.
Loiwal has an interesting background. He was the first engineer at Google India, where he co-founded Google Finance. Six years later, he moved onto Shopkick, where he helped build a lot of the core infrastructure. There, he met co-founder Tommy Tsai, a fellow engineer and Stanford graduate.
Loiwal says that the app has already gotten quite a bit of early traction, with 250,000 downloads in three weeks. It’s already the highest rated coupons app on Android.
Of course, Shopular isn’t the first in this space. A couple of weeks ago, RetailMeNot announced its own location-based coupon pushing app, which uses geo-fencing to alert users to nearby deals when they enter the shopping perimeter. Loiwal says that RetailMeNot and other companies playing with geo-fencing are “more limited in scope and simply a feature addition to their apps. We are built from the ground up to be a smart app.”
In other words, while you have to manually program your preferences into other apps, Shopular learns your habits and is designed to operate without you needing to tinker with it.
Loiwal tells me the company has not partnered with any retailers yet as their focus right now is on the user experience and they don’t want to be limited by partnerships. He also says that 60% of Shopular’s app sessions are over one minute long and they get very high open rates on their smart notifications.