A Mobile Army of Real-Time Inventory Checkers

The mobile and physical worlds continue to more closely integrate with each other.

Consumers use mobile devices to research, explore and shop, even though most then go the brick and mortar store to make their purchase.

Some retailers ironically are being bypassed or at least somewhat left out as brands take shortcuts around them.

It’s not necessarily that product manufacturers are looking to cut out their retail distribution points, but rather that they are trying to better and more efficiently connect consumers with their products.

One way is for brands to incent customers with coupons they can redeem by scanning their grocery receipt after their store visit, as I wrote about here last week (Mobile Coupon Redemption AFTER the Shopping Trip).



The retailer still makes the sale, the consumer gets the deal and manufacturer moves its product.

There’s another behind-the-scenes mobile move going on as a company sends mobile-armed individuals to stores with specific missions, such as to check on if products are where they’re supposed to be.

These secret-shopper types are independent contractors commissioned by Gigwalk, which bills itself as a local visibility platform.

The four-year-old company has signed up more than 500,000 of these gigwalkers who volunteer for available store-visit tasks.

The gigwalkers get paid, typically in the $5 to $15 range, for their in-store observations and reporting. The data is reported back to the consumer packaged goods company and shared with the buyer for the store.

For example, one mission available via the app today was to check certain product inventory at a specific Walgreens for $10.

“We can see a timeline of what happens in a store,” says Gigwalk CEO Bob Bahramipour. “Brands have a major problem. They’re spending $30-$50 billion a year in trade promotions with an unknown ROI. Our vision is to enable anyone to see into any location.”

There have been 4 million observations so far this year, according to Bahramipour.

An observer may be sent to check on-shelf availability of a certain product. While a product may be listed as being in inventory, the gigwalker validates if it is available for the shopper to see and buy.

The company is expecting to have about a million of these independent auditors to deploy to stores by the end of this year.

What looks like a mobile shopper to a retailer may actually be a mobile auditor.

Just one more issue to add the list of the intricacies of mobile commerce facing physical retailers.


All the major issues relating to mobile commerce will be discussed at the MediaPost OMMA mCommerce conference in New York on Aug. 7. Hope to see you there. Check out the agenda.



4 comments about "A Mobile Army of Real-Time Inventory Checkers".
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  1. Krillion by Local from Local Corporation, July 8, 2014 at 10:09 p.m.

    Gigwalk is definitely interesting. As you pointed out, they're providing brands with insight and intelligence to answer one of their crucial questions, “how is the customer experiencing our brand or product at retail locations around the country?”

    As you know from our previous discussions, this question will be vital for brands as smartphone-powered shoppers make smarter decisions that will drive them down one of two purchasing paths - I’ll buy the product I’m thinking about online and have it shipped, or I’ll go to a local brick-and-mortar location to buy it.

    The brands and retailers that will ultimately win the sale will be the ones that can provide a seamless mobile shopping experience, including rich product content, local store location and hours, pricing and in-stock availability information.

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, July 9, 2014 at 6:37 p.m.

    Agree, though it is a lot more difficult than it sounds.

  3. Jeremy Geiger from Retailigence, July 12, 2014 at 4:29 p.m.

    Kudos to the crowd-sourcing movement for making such inventory micro-checks possible. The root problem of inventory accuracy and store merchandise visibility, does have a material impact on customer journey satisfaction, the success of a brand's new product launch, and a retailer's in-store top-line. Although accuracy of in-store inventory has continued to improve from manual stock-checks, to inventory management & POS software, to the promise of RFID, it's always a trade-off between the value of accuracy, versus its cost. I wish I could get paid $10 for each of the more than 1 Trillion in-store product records (including availability and price) that we update every week! : )

  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, July 15, 2014 at 10:14 a.m.

    Thanks for your comments, Jeremy, good point about the trade-off between cost and results.

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