How Gazaro Protect helps you get the best price for your consumer electronics purchase with CEO Alexander Rink

I’m sure this has happened to you. You buy a TV or something similar from a big box retailer with the comfort of knowing that if the price drops anytime over the next 30 days for that product you are eligible for a rebate. You walk out of the store and don’t think about that again. According to Gazaro, 62% don’t claim rebates even when they qualify for one. Enter Gazaro Protect for iPhone.

I interviewed Alexander Rink, CEO of Gazaro because of the company’s approach to creating value for shoppers who leverage mobile. The service started as a web application to draw attention to the latest and lowest prices for consumer electronics and now they have a mobile application (Gazaro Protect) that allows consumers to be notified when they qualify for a rebate on products with price reductions.

They have built a service around the open inventory of Best Buy so if you are planning on buying products from them at any point, try this service out – it could save you some cash!

Alexander has offered you, the UNTETHER.tv watcher, a 50% discount for their product for the first 100 people who download it from the AppStore. Just use the coupon code gazaroUTR50.

Enjoy!

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Raw Transcript

This episode is brought to you by Mobility Public Relations. The full-service PR agency created specifically for mobility technology companies just like yours.

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Here’s the show:

[music intro]

Hello everybody. Welcome to Untethered.TV. I’m your host Rob Woodbridge Woodridge. This is where we sit down and have casual conversations with mobile rock stars. I’ve got one doing one of my signs. I can never remember what it is. I think it’s my left, your right, anyway, I’ll get it one of these days. Episode, you know, 116 and I still can’t figure that out. Alexander Rink, who’s the CEO of Gazaro. Alexander, thank you for coming on and sharing your story with the untethered crowd.

Alexander Rink: Thanks for having Rob Woodbridge.

Rob Woodbridge: So, Gazaro, this is a, I love these stories. First of all, it’s an Ottawa company. I’m from Ottawa, a lot of pride. But bigger than this, is the fact that what we’ve seen over the last couple years is a real focus, at least from a consumer perspective, on price and the impact of price on purchasing. Sites that you see in the news today, in the news this week, has been GroupOn and Google potentionally buying GroupOn for a huge amount of money. A lot of people that I’ve interviewed have been the focus of this kind of discount pricing or price protection or group buying.

Gazaro fits into that category. We’re going to find out a little bit more about it. I’ve just butchered this interaction about what it is that Gazaro does. I’m going to leave it to Alexander to fill in the holes. There is a mobile component. They have some great news that they’ve released this week and we’ll get into this throughout the show.

I butchered it, didn’t I Alexander.

Alexander: Not at all, you gave industry framework and background.

Rob Woodbridge: Yes, I did. Thank you. It’s very diplomatic of you. Why don’t you, in your words, not mine, talk about Gazaro. While this is a mobile focus show, it does come from the fact that there is a web version of this where this whole thing started. What is Gazaro?

Alexander: Essentially, we’re a cloud based retail pricing company. We’re very tech heavy. We’ve essentially developed, what I mentioned a cloud based platform. It’s real time in nature. What we do is we actually crawl and store, I’m sorry, extract and store and analyze pricing exclusively for consumer electronics to start but with the future view of extending to other categories.

What that does is it gives us an incredible amount of data on consumer electronics pricing a number of the major retailers both online and off line that we can use to determine what is the best price for shoppers at any given point in time. But also to look at price trends and price analysis and to be able to provide that information back to shoppers and to retailers, for that matter.

Rob Woodbridge: So, it’s really about arming the consumer with as much information as they can about what to buy when or . . . well, I suppose what the average price are around certain products?

Alexander: Yeah, it’s a little bit less about what to buy. That is, I think, an area that we’re starting to get a little bit more into but certainly the when to buy. If you look through the life cycle of a shopper, they’ll start out with, okay; I know that I want, for example, a television. Then some people are brand conscious and others aren’t and so on. They’ll go through a process of discovery. They’ll start looking into the televisions in a bit more detail. They look some ratings, expert ratings, user reviews, product specifications, and so on. Those are things that we’re adding to the platform but as you move along that process you get to a point where you say, you start walking in and you say, ‘you know what, this looks like the best deal for me or the best, I should say product, for me.’

Rob Woodbridge: Right.

Alexander: It’s at that point, that’s when Gazaro really starts to shine because you’re looking around for a deal. You say, ‘okay, now I know what I’m looking for.’ You tend to start Googling that product, as opposed to Googling LCD TVs or LED TVs or plasma TVs or whatever. When you start looking for that very specific product, you then want to know when is the best time to buy this? Where’s the pricing been historically on this? Where’s the best place to buy it right now? Even if I buy it right now and I see the low price right is that actually a good price compared to where it has been historically. Maybe it was $100 less or $200 less a month ago and if I just hang on a little bit longer I maybe able to get it for that kind of discount again. That’s where we’re very, very strong is with that kind of data. We have that available directly on our website. You can see multiple retailers in realtime but you can also see price histories and view across those multiple retailers.

Rob Woodbridge: From a consumer, especially in the electronics, I’m an avid consumer when it comes to the gadgets. Like an embarrassingly avid consumer when it comes to electronics, as most of us in technology are. How much does a . . . it’s got to be fleeting, right? The TV I buy yesterday, it’s now no longer being produced because it was produced six months ago, now it’s on the shelves, and I bought it yesterday and I won’t be able to find it again tomorrow. How much does that play into this, because it’s always turning the inventory? There are new versions of everything that are coming through. I’ve walked into a store based on a recommendation and haven’t been able to find what that recommendation is because they no longer sell it. From a consumer’s standpoint, IKEA is the worst but electronics is up there. How much does that play into this, into your business where you’ve got a limited window to buy these things?

Alexander: Yeah, I mean it’s interesting because we carry a ton of products. You can imagine, it’s literally hundreds of thousands soon to be millions of products, just in consumer electronics. As you said there are some have incredibly short life cycles, they’re like little fire flies. You know, they’re there for a bit and then they’re gone. Then there are the elephants in there. They’re there for a very long period of time and they continue to be there for years. It just amazes me sometimes to find some parts that you or I wouldn’t necessarily think of but they’re just sort of staples. They’re there and they’re always there and they’re very stable in price and you can see they’re just things that people need. At the end of the day, we, obviously, need to manage that from our end. We need to insure that we’re always in touch with what are the products that are out at any given point in time. Regardless of whether they’re one of those firefly type of products that just come and go on or whether they’re one that’s been around for a longer period of time.

We’ll be tracking the price history on them, regardless. You’ll be able to actually see, well, this one’s been around for at least a year or two or whatever. The price doesn’t change so why bother to wait, I may as well get it right now. Versus, you’ll see other ones where the pricing is just incredible. You can see retailers are really, I don’t want to say ‘playing games’ because it’s not like they’re playing games I mean they’re in business, right. They clearly have some sort of a method to what they’re doing. If there’s a high variability in the pricing and you just happen to be at one of those high points, well, you may as well just wait because it’s probably going to be coming right back down again.

Rob Woodbridge: Yeah. That seems logical but for me it’s kind of a compulsion, I suppose. You’ll never compensate for a guy who just has his mind set and go in there and buy it regardless.

Alexander: Now, I think that that’s a really good point, I mean, at the end of the day there’s a variety of different shoppers. There are shoppers who are impulse shoppers. I must admit, that I don’t know that we serve them the best. They just want to buy it, they’re going to buy it. That’s all there is to it. But if you look at the people, the [00:08:21:8] we have, we find out, obviously, what our shoppers are like. If we look at them, they tend to be very sortation, methodical buyers. That’s typically have stringent kind of process that they go through where they visit, I mean, the vast majority of them visit more three websites and typically more than five, actually, when they’re looking for products. They do a significant amount research before hand. We’re talking about, in terms of our shoppers in particular, they tend to be a slightly older crowd. I think that I mentioned to you previously that 78% of them are 41 and over, slightly skewed, north of the average kind of income range.

Rob Woodbridge: Yep.

Alexander: There’s a certain sort of, it’s not so much, it’s a little bit around the age, it’s a little bit around gender, it’s little bit around income, but it’s more about purchase behavior. Yeah, impulsive shopper and you have more a methodical bargain hunter deal seeker and the latter is much more the type of shopper that we cater to.

Rob Woodbridge: Yeah, it would be interesting to the how that skews as the economy ebbs and flows, right. I’m going to assume a couple of years ago; maybe we weren’t as price conscious as we are today. I think that the economic disaster that was the last couple of years has really had an impact on the way that we shop. Everything that can be had at a deal is being purchased at a deal.

Alexander: Yeah, I completely agree with that. I think that, I don’t want to say impulsive shoppers are a dying breed because I think there’s always a certain level of impulse there, and quite frankly, I mean, everybody needs a little bit of spontaneity in their lives. You get to a certain point where you’re just of sort of tired. I heard it referred to in a article recently as ‘frugality fatigue’. I can see them sort of deleveraging and cutting down on purchases, it’s like, damn it – I’m just going to spend a little bit.

Rob Woodbridge: I love it, frugality fatigue.

Alexander: Frugality fatigue. I think for the most part that there is a sort of culture, shop smart, element to it especially if you’re talking about bigger ticket purchases. Sure you can be impulsive on a $10 purchase but if you’re talking about $1500 purchase or $2500, it certainly can pay off very significantly for you take your time and really analyze your options, plan it out, and choose the right time to buy.

Rob Woodbridge: I think it’s just that time, we use to have to go into the stores to be able to do this and compare stores and catalogues and now you can do it on the web. It makes sense to bring all that information in. The flip side of this is that, you know I did just buy a TV. I think I got a great deal. I didn’t have any, I didn’t have an application with me. There’s, obviously, a natural extension here from what you guys do on the web into the mobile play. Because a lot of the time, you’re walking around and you want to understand, if I’m going to make an impulse buy, is this the thing, the Gaszaro app that talks me off the ledge, so to speak. Does it force me to think about this impulse buy before I actually go and do it? I can see a product pricing dip in the horizon based on the product. So, it was a natural extension, obviously, to go from the web into the mobile space, wasn’t it? Talk about that experience for you guys.

Alexander: Yeah, absolutely. I think that if we go, what was the thinking behind our launching mobile applications, it’s really about shoppers and that process. Where they actually plan out their purchases ahead of time and everyone’s really focused on all of that. How do I save money on this purchase and then buy at the right time and so on. What we did is we thought a little bit further and said what about after you buy? You know, and to your point, like, okay, I bought, I got it. For the most part just happy, it’s at my house, we’re watching it and so on. Then every once in a while you get that little nagging sort of fly, that, you know, did I pay too much? Was this a good deal? Wasn’t it?

Rob Woodbridge: What I do is I squash that down, kill that. Shut up voice, shut up.

Alexander: Yeah, you killed a little voice. Sometimes what happens is you go back into the store and you see the same television and it’s dropped like $300 and you’re like, uh, geez. I over paid on that, I thought I got a good deal but now I don’t feel like I got such a good deal anymore. I think what we were looking at is a little bit more of the life cycle. Don’t end it at the purchase but you can go beyond that. So, to your point, what we did was we actually put together a very, very cool mobile app. It’s called Protect, Gazaro Protect. We just actually announced it today so you’re my first interview subsequent to the announcement. We had a couple prior but you’re definitely the first one afterwards which is great, very timely.

Rob Woodbridge: I was so close, right? You’re the third best.

Alexander: No, you’re the first best.

Rob Woodbridge: So, it was announced today. Let’s talk about this. What is Gazaro Protect?

Alexander: Gazaro Protect is essentially it’s both a web service and a mobile app that identifies, for shoppers, specifically we’ve chosen Best Buy as our initial retailer to focus on. Shoppers at Best Buy, we will notify them if the price drops on the products they buy within the 15 to 30 days, according to the Best Buy Price Match policy. We’ll let them know if the price has dropped so they can actually go back to Best Buy and claim a price adjustment. You get a refund which they can net of course. It’s just money back in their pocket or it they use to apply to their next purchase at Best Buy.

I lived through this fun by myself, by the way. I was actually a person who bought an expensive television. I thought I got a great deal. I happened to back in that store short of 25 days later and it was $300 less. I was, on the one hand sort of upset, on the other hand I said, well, I’m going to get this adjusted. I went and got it adjusted. I was, I can’t tell you, I was pleased as punch. It was essentially, you know with tax and everything it ended up being like $350. It’s as if someone had just given me $350 on the street no strings attached. I had bought that television and it was the best deal I felt at the time for it. We were certainly happy with the purchase but to get $350 back and handed to me for essentially just looking at the price afterwards, was just a complete gift.

That’s essentially what Gazaro Protect does. It’s a free service. You just register the purchase after you made it. If there’s price drop, which as you know holiday season as you can imagine there’s, especially in the US there’s cyber Monday and Black Friday and so on, but in fact the prices before December 25th are actually, statistically lower than they are on cyber Monday and Black Friday. You don’t really talk about that because what happens is certain prices pop back up after cyber Monday. Then they actually go down trending until they hit lowest point right before the holidays.

At a point earlier, you can be in a store and looking at something and saying, oh, do I buy it, do I wait, do I wait until the last minute? If I wait until the last minute there are going to lots of crowds and so on. This enables you to buy with confidence, just go ahead and purchase it knowing that you’ll get the lowest price of the holiday season.

Rob Woodbridge: That’s incredible. It just takes the worry out.

Alexander: Exactly.

Rob Woodbridge: It’s completely [0:16:06] oriented. If I buy at any point in the year and there’s that 30 day guarantee. I’ll get notified as soon as that product dips and at any price point, right?

Alexander: Sure.

Rob Woodbridge: Often times, I don’t even, do you have any statistics on that? I mean I bought the TV but I haven’t looked to check and see if the price has dropped. Maybe it has, but I bought it before Black Friday or cyber Monday or any of the holidays, just before. There must be a good percentage of people who don’t check these prices.

Alexander: We actually did a bit of research on this. Keeping in mind that our shoppers are probably skewed towards the much more sort of careful type shoppers, these probably understate the reality. We asked a number of our shoppers and the response we got to the question, how often do you claim a price adjustment in the last 12 months? It was 68% said they had not claimed one. Again, we think general population’s probably higher than that because our shoppers tend to be very careful about their purchases. So, 68% knowing that there’s a possibility that they can actually save money don’t do it. When you think about it, it’s well, why wouldn’t they?

Rob Woodbridge: Yeah.

Alexander: It’s a pain. You buy the television, it’s like, let me write it down and let me keep tracking it afterwards. It certainly can be worthwhile doing it. You can get a few hundred dollars. It can also be just a pain and we’re all busy and we work. You’re in and out of the house. You’ve got kids and so on. Where do you fit that into your life? That’s one of the really cool things about the app is it’s automatic. You just register it and hey, we’ll notify you.

Rob Woodbridge: Obviously, the apps on the phone. You scan a bar code?

Alexander: Yeah, it’s essentially, we have, well, the app is free. Then you can enter things. You can enter products at Best Buy by model or UPC or you can actually search for HDTV or whatever. In addition, we do have a bar code scanner, it’s in the app upgrade. I’m not sure if you do coupon codes at your site but we’re more than happy to make one available to you that you can make available to your listeners and readers and so on.

Rob Woodbridge: Since we’re committed to [0:18:20] I now do that.

Alexander: Yeah, you can use a bar code scanner as well. You just look up the products. You identify the product. You just say, I want to protect this and vroom, it’s done and then you can put in your email address. We’ll notify you automatically or we’ll notify via SMS directly to the app on your iPhone that you’re eligible for a discount.

Rob Woodbridge: This is really interesting. You’ll go out and maybe not get into the semantics of how this works but ultimately what you see outside in the world right now which is discount hunters or applications that are looking for discounts. So, coupons or rebates or best prices or comparison shopping and all those kind of things, when you look out there and you’ve got this [0:19:10] and you’re trying to figure out where to fit. How did you come up with this idea? Just to differentiate? Or was it, was there a massive hole in the market for this?

Alexander: There’s certainly a differentiation element but I don’t think we’re doing it just to differentiate. I think that, if you go back to the initial purpose of the company. It’s been to, it’s really been to identify great opportunities for shoppers and to really sort of take care of the shopper in terms of their purchases. It started out, I think originally and I wasn’t here at the inception of the company. I joined more recently. The original founding thinking was to create a personal sales flyer.

You could identify the specific things that you like. We’ll notify you about them and so on. Since I joined earlier this year, one of the things I’ve increasingly interested in is sort of the psychology that shoppers go through when they’re doing the purchasing. Again, that’s sort of, that little sort of system or buddy or guide, your whatever, to say, you know what this is a good buy. You’re okay with this then really to take care of you afterwards as well.

Really what we’re trying to do with Protect is to extend the life cycle beyond just the sort of pre-purchase to go beyond that. As I mentioned, this is obviously fully focused on shoppers. By the same token, we expect to work with retailers on this. We think this can be a really powerful part of the retailers customer service strategy. We all know that when you go to a store there’s some level of price guarantee or we’ll match the competitors or whatever, it does put you at ease. You’re more likely to purchase there. All this does is re-strengthens that bond to the shopper to say, hey, buy it here and we’ll price match and we’ll protect you and we’ll take care of you.

We’ve increasingly looked through retailers. We think retailers could make us part of their program for shoppers.

Rob Woodbridge: There’s a lot of play in this space, pre, during, post. How do you guys, from a mobile side, really, how much does that play into your business model. Did you just look at it and say listen, mobile for us and the app is really just a natural extension to what we’re doing. It complements our web space. It doesn’t diverge or takes us away from what our core business is. It’s a convenience for the customer. Or do you guys plan on expanding that mobile presence more than what you’ve done already?

Alexander: Definitely, we’re going to be expanding it. I think at the end of the day, I think mobile has come to the stage where it’s almost like an arm to the body, right? It can either be, you can have a mobile app but you’re typically going to have something in the back end, in the cloud or whatever. We do have something in the cloud. Really mobile is really an extension of what we’ve got. We don’t look at it as, well, here’s our application or service. Then we have over here this island, this mobile. It really is just directly connected to everything that we’re doing. I think that’s the case for a lot of companies in the space that we’ve seen.

You know there are some that are mobile only. I would say that they’re the exception or it’s not a common. I think what you often see is, it’s really about how we serve this customer where ever they are. You had a number of years ago where you had the big box retailers coming up with websites. Where they would say, well we can’t only be a big box retailer we have to serve the customers on the web. I think mobile is a natural extension and really a kind of merging of the offline world and the online world.

I completely see the day where people just sort of walk around with their mobile devices. They’re going into every store and checking things out. Quite frankly, it’s better for shoppers. Retailers need to take that into account in terms of their strategies.

Rob Woodbridge: I think so. I’ve been pretty vocal on this show about the end of cash. Gene Rodenbury had it right in his Star Trek TV show and his movies there was never any cash. It was just at a point where trying to affix a price to something was ludicrous, obviously. I don’t know what happened between the gap of now and Gene Rodenbury’s future.

Alexander: [laughing] We’ve probably got a few steps to go through yet.

Rob Woodbridge: I think about this, there’s two things. One is the somewhat the death of brands, right? Maybe this is a cycle that we’re going through because of what we’ve all been through in the economy. Maybe brands aren’t as important as price. I think that those are the trends that I’m seeing. This really plays into this. Everybody’s crazy about Groupon. I don’t care where I get a manicure as long as I get a manicure for $10 not $9.00, right? I see that, the decline of the brand. Not all brands but the middle management of brands, so to speak, right? They kind of disappear.

The second thing is the erosion of profit. Which is another big thing because; when everybody’s expecting discounts you’ve now adjusted your price to that price. If you’re not giving 30% off, people are waiting for those days for 30% off. When I look at Gazaro and I see this great service which is a price protect, I think if I was Best Buy I’m counting on the fact that 68% of the people don’t cash in on this but my brand will suffer if we don’t do this. It’s kind of, I think you’ve got that right mix but what do you think about that? The erosion of brands, maybe, and the impact, basically the deflation of value of goods are going down. Consumers have more buying power. Am I way off here, do you think?

Alexander: No. I mean that’s an opinion, right, at the end of the day.

Rob Woodbridge: No, man, it’s fact.

[laughing]

Alexander: I would actually counter a little bit on a couple of your original points and then I’ll get to the Best Buy point which I actually think is a very, very interesting question. In terms of the erosion of brands, I think one thing that we’re seeing is I do agree. There is sort of an erosion of the middle class. I think especially if you look in the United States as an example and I think to a lesser extent Canada. What you see is that the wealthiest individuals are continuing to be very wealthy and are doing quite well. There isn’t actually a high degree of unemployment at the higher income levels.

Unfortunately there’s a fair amount of hauling out of the middle class. The unemployment figures are very high and so on. I think it’s caused them, it’s put them in a very different purchasing mindset. When you talk about erosions of brands, luxury retailers are actually doing very well at this time. Partly I think it’s because these higher income individuals are actually doing quite well. There isn’t a lot of unemployment. They’ve managed to adjust their portfolios and so on. I don’t think brands are necessarily dead. I think it’s just more that if you’re a mid-tier brand or you’re a brand that doesn’t appeal to the higher-end or luxury brands then you’re probably going to be facing increasing price structure.

To your second point about hauling under profit margins I think that, I do agree that’s occurring. I think that it really then becomes incumbent upon retailers and I don’t mean just only sort of large big box retailers but also smaller especially with the Groupon effect. To really, service becomes once again very important. It’s like how do you differentiate yourself versus your competitors. There are great stories about companies, retailers that did very well with Groupon and there are those horror stories. Yeah, we got absolutely killed and so on. We couldn’t handle the volume. There are those who choose not to go on Groupon because they feel it will have detrimental impact on their business. Those, they need to make a choice to really serve the customer well and build relationships. They need to do things beyond what others would do that just compete on price.

Rob Woodbridge: I agree.

Alexander: So, culminating to your point on Best Buy. I think this is really a very interesting question because I think if you look at sort of the knee jerk possibility. You look at this and say, oh, no, could be increased breakage or more returns or whatever. Really I think that if you, this is a chance to cut seasonal by the horns and be proactive about it. Just as you could argue, you know it’s all about philosophy, right? You could argue that the whole sort of price match and price guarantees that came out years ago at the time they were probably some retailers at the time that fought that. Ultimately it’s ended up to be, there are some that actually make it a very proactive, important part of their strategy for serving the customers. We see Gazaro Protect as being very similar to that which is there are going to some that look at this say, oh, my gosh, I wouldn’t want to touch that because it’s going to increase our fees or the returns. In reality, I think you can look at it and say, well, what can you do for the customer? Not only can we increase the sale and, you know, at the point of purchase. Say, okay, take away that doubt and fear and they’re more likely to buy. Even if they do get a price adjustment how do you, what’s the response there? Does the customer say, ‘Wow, I really appreciate this store for having done this for me? I am more likely to buy here in the future.’

Then secondly, it’s, oh, I got some money back, I really appreciate it. While I’m here in the store, let me actually pick something else up with this found money that I wasn’t expecting to have.

Rob Woodbridge: So, it’s brand loyalty ultimately is what, back to the first point, it’s brand loyalty that you’re creating as a result of going that extra mile for the customer. By identifying the issue and solving and not just hoping that 30 days goes by and the consumer doesn’t go out and find it themselves.

Alexander: Yeah, I mean let’s be frank here, we’re shoppers and we all feel this. It’s like if there’s a good rule in business and retail, it’s don’t piss off the customer, right. If you’ve got a customer and they buy something and they in a little later and the price has gone down significantly. There’s an inflection point there. You have the possibility for that customer to be either pissed off or really well served, think highly of the retailer, and are more likely to come back in the future.

We think that Gazaro Protect is the opportunity for retailers to take that second road and really build a relationship with the customer as opposed to go down the road of, well, maybe we shouldn’t price guarantee for our customers.

Rob Woodbridge: I completely agree. It’s a great answer because you’ve kind of got them in a spot. If they don’t adhere to this service then that’s saying something about their service. If they do, what they’re doing is they’re just satisfying their customers. I think that’s ultimately what you want to do. It’s a perfect story for mobile, isn’t it?

Alexander: I think so. I mean, and then again, I mean I don’t want to put this on Best Buy typically and to be frank, we think Best Buy has been great about this. I think a lot of retailers could have been very threatened by it. We think Best Buy, they needed to, obviously, just kind of think about it and so on. It’s completely legitimate. It’s under their BBY Open Program. They’re one of the more, one of the most innovative retailers.

They’ve released this BBY Open Program which is essentially an open API to all of their product inventory and pricing and so on. What enabled us to build this application is not only the fact that they had BBY Open Program, we can do it with other retailers as well, the BBY Open Program just made it a bit easier for us. It’s also because we already had the retail pricing platform that I mentioned earlier in our conversation as a background. It became actually a much simpler development for us than it would be for another company to just take what we had and combine it with BBY Open and offer this type of application.

Again, all kudos to them for opening themselves up for this because you know in a very large company, in any sort of very large company, that there is a variety of different hurdles you need to get over in order to do innovative things. BBY Open is an innovative program. I can imagine there was probably a lot of discussion internally about even releasing it in the first place. I’m sure that what they said was, what we can’t know of all the good and the bad that will come from releasing BBY Open. We believe that it is the right thing to do. It is clearly an evolution of the way the market is going. It will enable a number of different mobile applications as well as web applications and so on.

Let’s put it out there and let’s see what the community comes up with. Gazaro Protect is one the things that we’ve come up with. I give all the credit to Best Buy for that.

Rob Woodbridge: It’s pretty amazing because we talk about open data. A lot of cities are doing it. A lot of companies are doing it. Yellow pages did it. The benefit is unheard of because what they’re doing is their extending their brand at no cost to them. They’re opening up that data. People are going to build applications around this or integrate their data into other people’s applications. All of a sudden your reach is compounded by the fact that you’ve opened up your data. Especially in the mobile space, it really allows you to do this very effectively.

Amazon’s got it’s own bar code scanning product that you can walk in any store now and scan a product and is if it’s price comparable on Amazon.com or Amazon.ca or where ever you are. You can understand that Best Buy needs to compete against this by distributing their data of their product, inventory, and pricing. Looking at ways to bring customers in and give them confidence that the product that they’re buying is going to be the best price regardless.

Alexander: As you said, Amazon’s a great example of that because they’ve made their products available via ATI for a long time. There are hundreds of different affiliates and companies on the web that come up with different ways of selling apps on products. One of my favorite, I was reading a book on CloudSource a couple of years ago from one of the writers of Wired Magazine, I believe.

You’re probably familiar with this one but Gold Corp has a variety of different properties, they were doing gold mining. They just couldn’t figure out how they could get economically in certain places. What they did was, they did a completely unheard of move at the time and this is sort of, I think, sort of, you know, probably early 2000 or maybe even the ’90s. They essentially took all of their data and made it available on the web. They just said, we’re just going to open it up. I mean, completely unheard of because no one gave that sort of confidential information in the past. What ended up happening was a ton of different people; from all kinds of different fields . . . I’m sorry the other thing I should say is they attached a big reward to helping find someway . . .

Rob Woodbridge: Usually helps, right?

Alexander: Right, exactly, an incentive.

Rob Woodbridge: An incentive, yeah.

Alexander: Just ignore it, you know, yes it’s a big incentive. A variety of different people got involved from all kinds of different fields. They came up with ways that Gold Corp was actually able to extract the gold and the company made a ton of money. It easily paid off for the prize many, many times over. I think, to your point, it’s actions like Amazon having their API open or Best Buy with BBY Open that enable that type of innovation to occur. Ultimately it’s better for all of us.

Rob Woodbridge: I think that, yeah, I totally agree. Certainly, it helps faciliatate the movement forward. Especially with my focus on the mobile space, I just look at this and I say, mobile, as we know, is that perfect intersection of context, place, so when I standing somewhere and I need some information on something. I look at my other brain, the one that has all the data about this product. Ultimately, the more information I can get, I can get the complete picture of that product. The better I feel about that purchase. The better I feel. The more educated I feel so I can bring it up with somebody and say, hey, you know what, look it’s cheaper over here what are you going to do for me? We’re in a barter society.

Alexander: I agree and actually I’m going to offer a small caveat to what you just said. I’m being picky, so I apologize. You said the more information that I get. I agree for the most part, it also comes to certain point is where you get information overload. This where I think brands are important. Where, you know, you can get a service that gives me all the information I need but actually organizes it in such a way that it gives me what I need when I need it and the ability to see more if I want to but without over flowing with information.

Rob Woodbridge: Well, that’s very important. You get, you’re basically stagnate, you’re stuck.

Alexander: Right, exactly, you get analysis paralysis.

Rob Woodbridge: Yeah, well and you know what, as I said before, I never run into this issue because it’s shiny. That’s all I need, it’s got to be shiny. If it’s shiny, I’m sold. I don’t think it’s a joke. Very quickly, where do you think this industry place, where does this go. We’ve got a few more minutes left and let’s talk about, we’re really at the beginning of . . . the last two years have really opened up a lot of opportunity and we’re at the beginning of this opportunity. Do you have a kind of pie in the sky vision of the way that this goes? It’s not 10 years out because it’s going so quickly that it could be a year or two out where your vision is obsolete. You have to start thinking of another quickly. Do you have any idea of where this goes? Where the opportunities may lie?

Alexander: I think there are some job trends that you always seem to know. Most of your listeners will as well which is I mean mobile’s, in general, a big trend. As much as we talk about mobile applications and you’re clearly at the leading edge of this in the sense that if you did sort of a bell curve of relating a doctor to, you know, (________) and so on, I mean, you’re clearly at the front end. Mobile apps are just a way of life for you.

There are a lot of people for whom, you know they don’t even have smartphones yet. You and I speak and we always think that everybody has a smartphone but the reality is that a lot of people don’t. I think that there’s a fair amount of catching up to do there. When you get the general population using smartphones and it becoming part of their daily life, I think that enables us to sort of see change for people. I was reading, sorry just a small digression on this point, in the New York Times of a reporter named Bob Tedeshi and he was talking about taking his mobile app and going into stores. Looking at the prices and bar code scanning and so on, he was one of the only people doing it. He didn’t see anyone else doing it.

You can envision in the not too distant future where essentially everybody’s going to be doing that. Everybody’s doing that it suggests that maybe there’s some other way to handle that. I think in mobiles in general, I think increased adoption number one. I think number two is increased functionality. It’s not only, this is, this isn’t even years away, this is months away, where you got a mobile application, you go into the Best Buy store, you scan things and you just purchase them.

Why even bother of going into the store? We discussed earlier with Gazaro you can go ahead and look and see realtime prices and so on. We’re going to be introducing price alerting capability in the very near future. For individuals, to say it’s not the best time to buy right now but track this for me and let me know about it. Then I’ll just go ahead and purchase it. I think that’s naturally going to happen. I think social is, obviously, a very huge trend. Not only Facebook and your friends and so on but social is even beyond your immediate group of friends. There’s user reviews that are obviously extremely popular on Amazon and on a number of sites. The ability to actually see what are other people saying about this. Help me make the right decision. I think as we take notes and wrap them up, I think what we’re generally concerned about is how do we help, as a brand, Gazaro, how do we help people to make the right decision? How do we protect them afterwards? How do we be there by their side and be there sort of purchasing helper. So that they always have that piece of mind and comfort, I got the right thing, I paid the right amount, I know I don’t need to worry about it. How do we take that care, that concern I should say, off people’s minds?

Rob Woodbridge: That’s great. I love it. You know what I mean, it’s just, it’s such a unique approach. That whole process, it’s nurturing the buy. Eliminating doubt, eliminating the risk of the buy and allowing people, I keep coming back to it, have that educated understanding about what they’re buying and what the price, what the price trending on that is and when to buy.

Alexander: It sounds great. It’s not only for shoppers by the way, do you know for retailers, like I was looking at stats on retailers. The average conversion rate of people hitting the website is 4%. If you look at, it’s 90% of people that hit a website don’t even bother to put something in the shopping cart. Those that do 60% abandon. So you’re only left with 40%, then 10%, then 4% end up converting. From a retailer perspective if you’re also to that point, you want to remove that doubt from the shopper right at the point of sale. You want to be able to say, ‘It’s okay, we’re going to take care of you.’ If you can do that, if retailers are willing to do that and step up to that challenge they’re going to win the hearts and minds of more and more shoppers.

Rob Woodbridge: Well, I love it. Man, we’re out town, we’re out of time, actually, and we’re out of town [laughing]. Oh, my goodness, how can people find more about this. They can download the application from you, right?

Alexander: The Gazaro website’s www.gazaro.com that’s comparison shopping engine, your realtime pricing and so on, pricing histories. Then the Gazaro Protect website is www.gazaro.com/protect. We mentioned the mobile app, there’s also you can use it directly over the web and just put in url and sku in the web and do it there. We also have an automatic email parsing capability so if you buy online at Best Buy you can actually just forward your Best Buy email receipt to protect@gazaro.com. We’ll automatically parse out the information and protect the product for you.

Rob Woodbridge: Wow, I can’t wait. Everybody, go out, it’s just been released today. Go to gazaro.com. Alexander, thank you so much for doing this. I really appreciate you taking the time.

Alexander: Same here.

Rob Woodbridge: Alexander Rink, the CEO of Gazaro. Go check it out Gazaro protect, gazaro.com. Go and enjoy peace of mind on your next purchase for anything that they cover on that especially Best Buy right now is the first of the retailers that are a part of this. Alexander, thank you.

About Alexander Rink
Alexander Rink

Alexander Rink is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for creating web services and applications that help people improve their daily lives. Alexander brings his strategy, operations and entrepreneurial experience to drive the Gazaro business.

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About the author

Rob Woodbridge

I'm Rob, the founder of UNTETHER.tv and I've spent 14 years immersed in the mobile and pervasive computing world. During this great time I've helped some of the most innovative companies grow their business through mobile. If you are in need of a mobile business advisor or coach, connect with me here to get things rolling.

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