On our blog, we aim to feature new technologies and tools that retailers can adapt for their own operations to help increase foot traffic and improve profitability. Next up, we spoke with Tom Klein, CEO of Digital Scientists, to get the background on Rately.

Rately is an online merchant platform that offers rewards to shoppers for shopping at a brick-and-mortar location or visiting a retailer’s website. The service was created as a more effective and personal way to market to customers. Simply put, Rately’s mission is “Shop smarter. Everywhere.”

Rately is available on a desktop through Chrome or Safari, as well as on smartphones through its iTunes and Google Play apps. Currently, Rately is working with approximately 70 retailers, and when the company launched the service near its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, 90 percent of the local retailers signed up for the service.

The history

The idea was conceived by Tom and his identical twin, Bob, while they were holiday shopping. They come from a family of six and noticed that as consumers, when they tried to shop for a lot of relatives at once, it proved pretty difficult. Which stores should they shop at? What items should they buy? How can they keep track of what they saw online or in the store?

The brothers realized there was a chance to create a better shopping experience, and make it easier for shoppers to keep track of the items they were considering purchasing.

The challenge

There are three main challenges when competing for shoppers’ attention:

  1. Keeping them engaged. The number of shoppers actually opting in for store marketing materials can be quite small. Yet some of the most powerful marketing investments are these very same programs, if a shopper opens the email newsletter.
  2. Making it feel personal. For most shoppers, marketing blasts are not one size fits all. For example, a shopper can visit Saks.com, other online retail sites, or even a physical location for years and they can still be a stranger. In other words, the merchandising shown does not change depending on who visits a site or a store. If a shopper doesn’t fit into the average persona, they are less likely to respond to how things are merchandised.
  3. Getting repeat visits. Retailers need to not only entice the shoppers to return but increase the number of shopping trips.

By addressing these issues, Rately is helping retailers re-merchandize their stores in a more personalized way for each shopper. At the same time, shoppers don’t have to give up their privacy. Anybody can use the tools without providing personal information. No check-ins or social log-ins required, and all data is anonymized and aggregated so neither Rately nor retailers receive identifying characteristics of a shopper.

How it works

How is it different than other marketing platforms?

Shoppers automatically participate by visiting the sites of retailers in the Rately program. The app sends browser notifications to shoppers that show up onscreen for approximately five seconds before disappearing. These are similar to smart phone notifications, and are not pop ups. The notifications can feature new products, remind shoppers of recently viewed items, connect them to social media to prompt a “Like,” offer a discount or incentive, or any other type of message the retailer wants to push to the shopper.

While shoppers are browsing, they can tag items and Rately will keep track of those recent items while also generating recommendations, just based on the shopper’s behavior. This also gives retailers feedback on which merchandise is the most popular based on how many people click or tag a product.

The Rately program helps to create or underline an existing loyalty program: At the same time that shoppers receive the notifications for participating retailers, shops can encourage them to sign up for email newsletters, download the Rately smartphone app, or participate with a brand on social media.

Currently Rately personalizes shopper notifications based on two different kinds of activities. The first is by number of visits to a store’s website. Based on a shopper’s number of visits, a retailer can deliver a specific notification. For example, after the 10th store visit, a shopper can receive a 10 percent off coupon or another promotion for an in-store visit.

The Rately smartphone app is targeted towards consumers visiting brick-and-mortar shops. Relying on iBeacon, stores can send messages to shoppers that return to the same location. There’s no check-in required, and shoppers’ visits are counted whenever they walk into a participating store. Acknowledging the shopper can be as simple as a “Thanks for visiting again” recognition, or a small coupon for an in-store purchase of an item they tagged online through the Rately app. Shoppers can also redeem online rewards in a store. The more visits a shopper makes, the better the rewards are.

Shoppers can also engage with retailers outside of the stores. Rately creates an up-to-date visual history of viewed stores and products, including price, image, and descriptions, so that a person can quickly go back to previous items and rediscover those unique finds.

Talking numbers

Merchants who use Rately get feedback via a weekly email report. This email details the number of visitors to a site, how many individual visits shoppers made, what products were clicked on and how many promotions were redeemed.

There are two tiers to the service. Rately’s basic package is free for retailers who receive up to 50,000 monthly page views. For those retailers who have higher web traffic, the plus package is available for $79 per month.

Interested in becoming a participating Rately retailer? Simply request an invitation to the service.

This has been an installment of StoreFront, an interview series with leaders of successful retail businesses. For more interviews, visit the StoreFront page. To learn how you can be featured, email us. We’d love to hear from you.