55 Piece Mobile Search Tool Kit was a beta product called Text2store. Charles categorized it as a Mobile Shopping Engine, alongside a similar service called Slifter. Text2store enables mobile users to sign up for shopping coupons and offers from their local shops. The service is officially launching this coming Monday, in Chicago. Text2store has been in "limited beta" since late November/Early December and they have a small number of Chicago companies signed up currently. Several other businesses in other states have also signed up.One of the mobile Web companies in Charles Knight's
How does it work? Unfortunately I couldn't test it out myself (as it's a US service), but on the Text2store blog they describe the process: firstly sign up on the home page with your cell phone number and valid e-mail address, then within 2-30 seconds you will get a text message with a confirmation code on your cell phone. Then you follow the 3-step process outlined on the homepage, beginning with inputting data about products and services you're interested in:
The service is free for consumers. There is no upfront cost for merchants, who pay only for customers. Text2store is calling this "cost per text (CPT)" and it means that merchants "only pay for on-the-go consumers who we send (sms) text message or e-mail coupon/promotions to." They also have a cost-per-click model for website referrals.
The concern for consumers when receiving shopping deals by phone has to be spamming. Text2store however claims that it employs ‘User Controlled Technology’, meaning the user can control all aspects of receiving promotions/coupons. Users can set how often they get a sales deal, which day(s) of the week and even at what time. The company also has an editorial process, whereby they check all coupons/promotions (within 24 hours) before they are released to subscribers.
As of now, the Text2store website is still a little clunky and I wasn't able to test out the mobile side of it (any Chicago natives care to test it out and comment?). But the service itself is promising. Of course, shopping promotions being delivered via mobile phone is kind of the holy grail of personalized shopping - for both shoppers and vendors. Because ideally users will receive only relevant messages, that are localized to where they live and personalized to their tastes.
According to a Yankee Group study, 42% of mobile customers are open to mobile advertising if it is relevant, if they asked for it or if they will get coupons or free services; and the U.S Mobile advertising revenue is projected to jump to $150 Million in 2006 from $45 Million in 2005. Yankee Group also predicts that Mobile ad sales could total $2 billion, or nearly 1% of U.S ad sales, by 2010 and 5% by 2015.
So it's a potentially huge market and Text2store is wanting to grab a decent slice of it. They're not alone of course - Slifter and Cellfire are two similar startups, and it's safe to assume that the mobile carriers and Internet bigcos are also gunning for the mobile shopping market.
To finish, here are a couple of screenshots from the merchant's perspective: