It's no secret to anyone with a newspaper subscription or a pair of eyes that retail stores in Australia are in dire straits at the moment. Which is exactly why an app designed to send people back there might just work...
Ben Howden is one of the four co-founders (pictured, above) of MiiBrand
, a neat little phone add-on that is designed to push shoppers back into bricks and mortar stores. Because so many strategies have failed in this regard previously, MiiBrand incorporates not one, but four separate hot social media ideas to get users to engage with the clothes racks again. There's exclusivity, via the invite-only function borrowed from Pinterest
, 'gamification', which lets you earn credits, geolocation (see Foursquare), and a loyalty system that rewards power users. With all of those being thrown against the wall, something's gotta stick right?
"Our core proposition to retailers is about leveraging mobile technology –in a smart way- to drive shoppers back into stores," explains Howden. "Our idea is the more you engage with brands, the more you are rewarded. So if you’re out there sharing Sportsgirl offers on Facebook and Twitter all the time, you’re essentially promoting the brand so you’ll be rewarded."
"It’s been a really easy sell," says Howden. "We pitched to 25 brands and signed up 20. I think the key reason for that is that they’re all looking for way to drive store traffic, and nobody seems to have come up with any solid ideas for how to solve that problem."
Michael Baker on customer service in retail
Fashion week and the future for local brands
Brand loyalty is the key focus for Howden, who maintains that it not only ties fans to brands, but also discourages a new breed of user. "We’re trying to stop deal-junkies coming in and hitching each brand because all they want is a discount. There is no loyalty or repeat purchase with those people. If you look at the model with Groupon or Daily Deals sites, it’s not really working out all that well for retailers; they usually get burned."
Instead, the power is in the hands of the customer, and the brands that interact with them. "These days people are struggling to keep up with email subscriptions on top of everything else, so this gives you one place to come and get everything you want from only the brands you like," he says.
Sign up for MiiBrand here.