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Enhanced Buying Experiences in SMART CITIES

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SMARTBUY (Enhanced Buying Experiences in SMART CITIES)

Reporting period: 2017-04-01 to 2019-01-31

"Small-medium local retailers are lagging in on-line presence
Showrooming refers to a situation when a shopper visits a store to check out a product but then purchases the product online from home. This occurs because, while many people still prefer seeing and touching the merchandise they buy, many items are available at lower prices through online vendors. As such, local stores essentially become showrooms for online shoppers”. But now, recent reports show that retailers have discovered ""reverse showrooming,"" or ""webrooming,"" which is when consumers go online to research products, but then head to a bricks-and-mortar store to complete their purchase. Reverse showrooming is actually nothing new. Since the early days of online shopping, more people have researched their shopping online than have actually bought there.
Reverse showrooming is actually more common than showrooming. In the U.S. 69% of people reverse showroom, while 46% showroom, according to a Harris poll. Amazon remains the No. 1 place where showroomers end up making their purchases, but it's an even more popular destination for reverse showroomers who ultimately buy elsewhere. Social media has also become a major referral source for bricks-and-mortar chains, not just e-commerce sites.
However, in many cases, it has become extremely difficult for potential customers to find local retailers, especially the small ones: The smaller and newer the firm, the greater the problems with online visibility. This is caused mainly by the lack resources and knowledge to create a website and publish on-line their catalogue of products: Nearly 40% of small businesses in Europe do not have a website, and only a few have their product catalogues on-line.

Small and medium-sized retailers must find their way to become the store were the webroomers finally go to end the purchase process. They have the advantage of being able to provide their customers with convenient and local access to stores. SMARTBUY aims at providing local retailers with new (or additional) on-line presence to cope with the new buying trends and expectations of customers, who are willing to find nearby products on-line.
The objective of SMARTBUY is to provide a straight forward manner of publishing and finding local products and services on-line, making available for this purpose the 1) SMARTBUY Mobile app, where local buyers can easily discover local retailers, products and promotions nearby, and the 2) SMARTBUY Retailers’ platform: where local retailers can easily and cost-effectively make and promote automatically their products on-line, attracting local audiences and increasing sales.
Based on some of the existing Smart Cities ICT infrastructures available from ongoing and previous EU projects like Organicity and FIRE+, the first version of the SMARTBUY system prototype will be deployed in Skellefteå, Luleå and Piteå (in Sweden); as well as in Patras (Greece). The feedback collected from these deployments will serve to deploy a 2nd and more advanced version of the system that will be released again in those same cities plus London (UK) and Santander (Spain), for further experimentation and replication."
SMARTBUY has achieved the two main objectives planned for this period:
-The 1st version of the Retailers Web Portal has been developed and is fully functional. This version includes the core functionalities and is ready for experimentation with business owners for the upload of products in the different pilot locations. It is expected that the Retailers Web Portal will be publicly released in Skellefteå, Luleå, Piteå and Patras by September-October 2017.
-The 1st version of the Mobile App has been developed and it is functional. The first version includes the core functionalities and can be used for experimentation and feedback collection with end-users in pilot locations. The current version of the Mobile App allows already the search and info retrieval of nearby products, using different filters and search criteria: name, price, distance, and product category. It is expected that the App is made available for public download from Android and Apple stores by the Q3 of 2017.
The 2nd version of the SMARTBUY system will be focussed on two main aspects:
-Automatic recommendation engine: This service will allow local retailers to provide personalized geo-located marketing to reach their potential customers actively: it will allow them to set promotional campaigns according to customers’ interests, behaviour, and location
-Social functions: the SMARTBUY Mobile App will include sharing, review, products scoring and communications features.
SMARTBUY system addresses most of the identified barriers that the retailers SMEs are facing for the visibility of their services and products across digital and physical channels. By making accessible to customers nearby products offered by local stores and by having access to geo-location infrastructures, SMEs retailers are able to offer a wide set of services; several of which are integrated into SMARTBUY, like providing potential customers with information that could enhance their customer experiences such as tailored information about product, services and promotions based on customers’ interest. The main impact pursued by SMARTBUY is to allow local retailers to become part of a distributed catalog of products, acting as a virtual shopping mall where all the users of the system become potential customers of the stores, leading to an increase of the customer base. This happens because potential customers become aware of the products and service of the store in the moment that the goods that the store is offering, match any users’ search.