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NearbyNow helps mall retailers attract ready-to-buy shoppers by providing inventory information online and on mobile devices. It powers the Web sites of mall partners such as Westfield shopping centers and also has an SMS service that shoppers use on site to find in-stock items around the mall.

The latest move for NearbyNow is today’s introduction of an iPhone application for Lucky, a fashion magazine for young women. The application, known as Lucky At Your Service, is billed as a “digital shopping concierge” that allow users to search for products featured in the magazine. According to NearbyNow CEO Scott Dunlap, this came about after investigating seemingly inexplicable spikes in its search activity.

“We figured out this was happening because of a certain item that was featured in a magazine,” said Dunlap at last week’s I2G event. “When a magazine hits the stand, we see clear spikes of some of the products in it.”

Lucky has up to 900 products per issue, said Dunlap, signaling an opportunity to target product searches by being ready for these spikes in interest. This essentially entails mashing up Lucky’s product information (which it gets in advance of each issue’s monthly release, according to Dunlap) with its own database of local product inventory.

The application itself allows users to search for items in the magazine by name, color or brand. Color search, as Dunlap demonstrated, comes in handy if someone is trying to tie together an outfit and is looking for a particular color accessory. Once an item is found, users can view local availability and reserve it (see screen shots below).

Opportunity Afoot

The partnership makes sense on one level because the fashion items showcased in Lucky combined with its target demographic make it a natural tie in to NearbyNow’s shopping mall sweet spot. It’s starting out with shoes, which makes sense for this same reason, plus it’s a product category more conducive to a local offline conversion.

“We’ve noticed that shoes are something that can be hard to buy online,” said Dunlap. Particularly for brand-new models; people want to see them up close and try them on.”

Best of all, this is an integration of mobile and traditional media marketing, which we’re seeing more and more of (see HipCricket write-up last week). NearbyNow will benefit from the lift in usage for its data, as the calls to action will be present throughout the print magazine.

Lucky also benefits from gaining a greater multimedia capability. It’s an additional medium that not only resonates with its teen audience, but also can appeal to advertisers interested in moving down the funnel to local conversions. This measurability should have additional appeal in the current environment — especially with respect to magazines and retail, which are both struggling.

(click screen shots to expand)


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