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Walmart ramps up mobile in-store program with Stylr app acquisition

June 18, 2014

Walmart's mobile app

Walmart’s mobile app

In a reflection of Walmart’s strong focus on leveraging mobile to enhance the in-store experience, the big box retailer’s @WalmartLabs has acquired location-based shopping application Stylr.

The app, which was founded by two Standford alumni, pulls inventory data from local stores to show shoppers what is available in their vicinity. The deal follows closely on the heels of Walmart’s new digital receipts platform, which will be used as the basis for future in-store innovations such as automated shopping lists. 

“These are two smart guys from Stanford and there were a lot of synergies between what they worked on and what we’re focused on  – combining digital capabilities with physical retail,” said Ravi Jariwala, San Francisco-based director of public relations at Walmart.

“We’re not just a retailer in Silicon Valley; we’re building an Internet technology company inside the world’s largest retailer,” he said. “We’re focused on providing a seamless experience that allows customers to shop when, where and how they want – stores, online, or on mobile devices. 

“Our recent innovations – eReceipts, Savings Catcher, our latest Pharmacy mobile features – all underscore the important role mobile plays in enhancing customers’ in-store shopping experience.”

Product inventory
Stylr was founded  a year ago by Stanford alumni Eytan Daniyalzade and Berk Atikoglu.

The app integrated 75 major retailer chains and aggregated product inventory for more than 15 million product SKUs in 25,000 store locations in the United States.

The company was funded by Dreamit Ventures.

In a blog post announcing the deal, @WalmartLabs’ Gibu Thomas, who is senior vice president of mobile and digital, wrote that the retailer was impressed with how quickly Stylr’s creators were able to develop and grow the app. Additionally, the retailer liked how Stylr bridges digital and physical shopping experiences.

walmart big opt

Unique in-store experiences
The number of smartphone-equipped consumers continues to grow.

While multichannel retailers such as Walmart are focused on making it easier for consumers to complete a purchase from their mobile device, many recognize that the bigger opportunity is in leveraging smartphones to help shoppers during their visits to physical stores.

Not only does the lion’s share of sales take place in bricks-and-mortar locations but, in-store shoppers increasingly have their smartphone in hand to look for the best prices, research products and find offers.

walmart big 2 opt

For example, Walmart reports that over half of the retailer’s smartphone users have used their device in-store to assist with their shopping.

With 80 percent of the retailer’s customers under the age of 35 owning a smartphone, Walmart expects dramatic growth in the number who are using their device in-store.

Silicon Alley
With numbers like these in mind, Walmart has been focused on the leveraging mobile to enhance the in-store experience for some time. The idea is to integrate digital and physical retail to create new and unique experiences for customers that bring the convenience of online shopping into the physical stores.

This spring, Walmart started rolling out a new platform in stores that is designed to help customers store digital receipts on their Walmart applications and interact with the content in a variety of ways, including to build shopping lists (see story).

The Stylr deal marks the thirteenth acquisition made by @WalmartLabs in the past three years. It is the first one of a company based in New York’s Silicon Alley.

“We’re pleased with the strong customer response we’ve seen to our mobile innovations,” Mr. Jariwala said. “As customer shopping behavior continues to evolve, we’ll continue to push the envelope and test new features that help our customers shop and save with Walmart.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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