A new app launching in Austin could prove to be a treasure map for savvy shoppers. Your Style Unzipped (YSU), a retail technology startup, will start testing its ZipShop mobile app this fall. Using GPS technology that will help shoppers find items they love and tell them which stores in their area have them, the technology could be a bridge that pulls people from online shopping into brick-and-mortar stores.
Austin is one of the cities for the launch, along with Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Nashville, Santa Monica, and New York City’s SoHo.
“The entire platform is built for the ultimate customer to retailer experience,” says founder Susan Bruch. “Shoppers have changed. Millennials and Gen Zs use their device as a means to shop online, yet they want the option to walk into a store, try the item on, and decide whether to make the purchase, all with instant gratification. It leads to purposeful shopping, which is different from that which the online experience can deliver on its own.”
ZipShop will also offer user the chance to hold items, purchase something for in-store pickup, or, if available, have it delivered.
YSU raised $500,000 to get the technology launched; the company is currently in its latest round of funding, looking to garner $1.5 million. But that half a million initial investment was more than enough to fund the beta test of ZipShop. In addition to the ability to search and hold inventory from local boutiques and retailers, ZipShop will have branded videos and editorial content showing which items can be purchased and retrieved on-demand.
While it’s true that several larger department stores and big-box shops already have features similar to this, allowing customers to look at items online and see which stores near them have the goods, ZipShop will concentrate on smaller boutiques, many of which don’t have such a system currently in place for buyers.
“In today’s retail industry, organizations of all types are continuing to have to balance traditional competitive positioning variables with market disruption from consolidators, emerging technology channels and purchase process innovation in determining the optimal customer engagement strategy,” says ZipShop’s vice president of product development, Andrew Farrell.
“ZipShop allows retail organizations to focus on taking a unique approach to embracing emerging and mobile technology innovation and disruptive processes,” he adds, “one that leverages their unique positioning in the market and takes advantage of their traditional consumer engagement strategies.”