Retailigence Pushing Local Product Inventory via Developer Ecosystem

Earlier today I posted about integration of Milo local product data into parent eBay’s main site. For several days I’ve been trying to complete a post on another provider of local inventory data Retailigence. The company has emerged as one of the leaders of the “inventory 2.0″ wave.

Retailigence told me last week that it has more than 5.3 million products now in its database. It obtains those data in a variety of ways: through CSV files, direct retailer feeds and through retailer POS vendor relationships.

Co-founder Jeremy Geiger estimates that the company has relationships with vendors that collectively represent about 25% of all US retail sales volume. Two POS vendors to recently announce deals with Retailigence are ERPLY and B2B Soft.

Retailigence doesn’t have a destination site or mobile app; it’s purely an aggregator and syndicator of data. The company now has a range of partners using its API, including 12 mobile apps. (Here’s a partial list.)

One of those partner apps is from Mobilistar, an augmented reality tool, that appears within augmented reality “browser” Layar in this case. Layar itself is kind of a mess but the Mobilistar “Where Can I Buy?” app, which uses the Retailigence data, is interesting.

You launch Mobilistar’s app within Layar and search for the desired product. If it’s within a certain radius of the user that will be shown at the bottom of the screen. Consumers can then launch a map and navigate directly to that business location to obtain the item.

Another creative implementation of Retailigence’s data is through Stipple, which seeks to become a universal tagging system for objects in photographs across the Web:

The idea here is that you mouse over product images in photos and see where you can buy those items locally:

After discussing a number of these apps, I asked Geiger and biz dev VP Nitin Gupta about whether retailers “got” mobile and the value of syndicating their data through Retailigence. Geiger said, “They don’t understand all the aspects and different ways to be visible on mobile. Most retailers don’t have a comprehensive view of the mobile market.”

He added that “Nordstrom and BestBuy are leading edge in terms of thinking.” However he told me it’s still tough to get things done even with the more forward-looking retailers, because of organizational divisions and inertia. Yet the direction of the market is unmistakable: there will be increasing amounts of local product inventory data available via APIs like Retailigence’s. And developers will find creative ways to put that data to work — as with the Stipple implementation.

Retailigence currently uses a CPM billing model — a product page view/search triggers a billable event. It’s also exploring CPA models. (Partners get a revenue share.) But advertising is only half of Retailigence’s business.

“Data analytics are an important part of our business,” said Geiger. He explained that the company is developing profiles of consumers and their buying behavior. The company also has “pre-sales” data indicating consumer demand, which could become extremely valuable to retailers and how they allocate inventory and marketing dollars in the future.

Geiger, Gupta and I also discussed a number of future scenarios involving wish lists, push alerts and geofencing. Right now retailers doing mobile marketing rely heavily on deals and discounts, which they’re ambivalent about. With geofencing and push alerts there would be ways to bring consumers into stores based on personalized shopping lists, without necessarily relying on deals as heavily.

I’ve got a list of desired products in a database and I’m alerted when there’s a store nearby that has one of those items I’m looking for (actively or passively). Placecast has already shown the effectiveness of SMS-based geofencing and push marketing. This kind of app would not only be useful to consumers but probably very effective as a way to drive consumers into local retail stores.

The game in local product inventory is scale and accuracy: getting the greatest and most real-time product coverage. Eventually local product inventory will be a must for all shopping sites online and especially mobile.

It will also be interesting to see if Amazon makes a move in the space. I know they’ve been looking at it.

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