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NearbyNow mobile shopping service holds SMS sweepstakes

August 18, 2009

nearbyShopping assistant NearbyNow will run a back-to-school sweepstakes program for consumers who use its online and location-based SMS services.

Consumers who use the NearbyNow service between July 18 and Aug. 31 are automatically entered into the “Hold It. Win It. for Back to School Sweepstakes.” Consumers can also text HOLDIT to short code NEARBY (632729) to enter for the chance to win $100 gift cards from retail chains Buckle and Metropark, or a new 8GB iPhone 3G.

“Back-to-school shopping is big-time traffic for our shopping mall partners, but the price of gas is making many shoppers weary of driving from store to store, so we thought it might be fun to highlight how you can make your shopping trip more efficient while also getting a chance to win an iPhone or other great prizes,” said Scott Dunlap, CEO of NearbyNow, Los Altos, CA.

Every time consumers check inventory or reserve a product, they are entered for a chance to win a prize.

The prizes also include Mimobot Swirl 1GB USB Flash Drives and a Nintendo DS Lite handheld game unit.

In addition, up to five shoppers per week will get the items they put on hold for free.

Consumers can opt in to receive weekly SMS alerts of current sales at nearby malls by texting DEALS to NEARBY (632729).

There will be on-site advertising in the shopping malls and online promotion for the campaign.

In addition to signage and Web searches, viral marketing is a key component of NearbyNow’s business plan.

“Many of our shoppers hear about us through word of mouth from friends or seeing other shoppers pick up items in the store,” Mr. Dunlap said. “When you see somebody pick up an item on hold for them, it gives this great VIP vibe.”

Key NearbyNow advertisers are fashion retailers that target teens and college students, including Buckle and Metropark.

NearbyNow is available in nearly 200 shopping malls in 130 U.S. cities. The company claims that 50 percent of U.S. consumers are within 30 miles of a NearbyNow-enabled shopping center.

Using the NearbyNow service, consumers can search more than 800,000 products at their local shopping mall, check availability to make sure items are available in the size and color they want and use the “Reserve now” function to put items on hold.

Shoppers then get a personalized claim check sent to their email address or to their mobile phone that tells them exactly who to ask for when picking up the item.

Also, shoppers using the service will find current sales and available coupons. Once in the mall, parents and other shoppers can search for last-minute items directly from their mobile phone.

“We started as an online service, but quickly morphed in a combination of online/mobile,” Mr. Dunlap said. “We get the most use by blending online and mobile into a single experience from home to the store, more so than only SMS.

“For our shoppers, it’s quite natural to begin shopping online but then ask for an SMS response to see if a product is in stock and get a mobile ‘claim check’ to go pick it up,” he said. “About 40 percent of our shoppers do this, including many in the 40-plus age group.”

Starting next month, NearbyNow will begin to roll out in hundreds more shopping malls and some shopping districts. By the end of the year, the company hopes to launch a universal mobile Web search service.

“We’re finding ways to do location-based advertising without relying on a GPS signal or triangulation,” Mr. Dunlap said. “Our shoppers tell us where they are looking and when they want to come pick up an item, so the location-based ads are quite relevant.

“The economics are great, too,” he said. “You can pay a $900 CPM and still get a positive ROI because you have a focused niche, i.e. the shoppers near your store that are in the mood to buy.”

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Dan Butcher is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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