Launched in December 2013, this week’s Business Showcase feature is on a web based service called Localmint. Aimed at providing consumers with easy access to information about local retailers, the service has now also launched in America, Australia and the U.K.
We spoke with COO Oisin Ryan to find out more about what this service offers both consumers and retailers and to get an insight into what the future holds for this fast growing company.
Q1 Hi Oisin. Can you explain what Localmint is?
What Localmint is and what our vision for it is are two different things.
At the moment Localmint is a platform on which retailers can publish key store details like opening hours and location information. Consumers can then search this platform quickly and easily from any device. As we have the leading retailers’ details already in our system, we are effectively rendering the traditional store locator defunct.
Our vision is for Localmint to be a Yelp type service focused on retailers.
The existing platform has been hugely successful at generating traction, with around 850k unique users accessing the service in April across Ireland, the UK and Australia and these numbers are growing by 15% month on month.
The next phase of development will see the introduction of social features to the platform that will enable our users to interact with each other within a shopping context. Users will be able to recommend stores and products to friends, as well as post reviews of stores and take other social actions.
Our final phase of development will be to provide retailers with the tools they need to interact with the service and our user community. We see huge potential here, as retailers have shown their enthusiasm for sites such as Facebook and Twitter, which were not designed with the retailer / customer relationship in mind. A massive opportunity exists for a social platform that is specifically designed with this relationship and shopping activities in general in mind.
Q2 What advantages does your service offer over what is already out there?
Again there are two parts to this answer.
The reason our store details platform has been so successful is that it has the best data in the retail sector and optimising the user experience is at the heart of everything we do. Our app and website present the leading retailers store details via a consistent and efficient interface for optimum user experience, while the platform is open to smaller retailers to upload their own details.
A lot of people will simply search on Google for the opening hours of “X” store in “Y” location. Localmint will generally appear high on the list alongside the retailer’s own store locator, but Localmint will serve up the requested details straight away, as opposed to directing the user to a store locator which may be extremely difficult to navigate.
The challenge for us is to get more and more people coming directly to Localmint, as the likes of Yelp and Google frequently do not have the details people need, such as opening hours for large chain stores for example.
We are in prime position to develop a social network around retail and the shopping experience, as we already have basic store data and strong traffic numbers to populate the network. We also have a core usability function in terms of the store details, which will remain key to the platform and will act as a driver of engagement and retention.
As for Facebook and Twitter, they are failing retailers in the sense that there is so much noise on these networks that the ability of retailers to communicate with their customers is being further eroded all the time. See all the complaints from businesses who have built up large Facebook followings only to be told their posts will no longer reach all those followers.
Q3 When was the company launched and what markets is the service available in now?
The company was established in December 2013, but Ranga had been working on the business on a part-time basis since early 2012 when he launched the first version of the site. In between gaps in consulting contracts, as well as by night and at the weekends, Ranga put a lot of time into the site to get the traffic numbers up from zero to where they are today.
The service has been available in Ireland, the UK and Australia for some time, but we just went live in the USA in May 2014.
Q4 Can you tell me some more about yourself and co-founder Ranga?
Ranga (CEO and Founder) and I (Oisin Ryan – COO and Co-Founder) met in the lift on the way up to the first ever “Find a Co-Founder Meetup” held in Dublin’s T-Cube in August 2013. We got chatting again after the pitches were done and when Ranga described the project he was working on, I immediately saw the potential. Ranga was looking for someone with a business background to supplement his technical skills in order to drive Localmint forward. After an extended period of “founder dating”, we decided to formalise the relationship and established Localmint as a limited entity in December 2013.
Ranga is a very experienced software consultant and has worked for the likes of Microsoft and Dell since coming to Ireland from his native India over 8 years ago. He was clever enough to identify contracts that allowed him to learn skills relevant to Localmint over the past couple of years in the contracts he accepted. I spent 13 years in the IFSC in various financial services roles, but I was keen to do something different where I actually got to build something meaningful and Localmint certainly meets those criteria.
Q5 Is there an App available for Localmint?
We launched an iOS app in April (which can be downloaded here). This has been extremely well received by our user base. We are working on an Android version which should be available in mid-July. App updates incorporating the planned social features are likely to be available in Q4.
Q6 What’s next for Localmint?
We have a lot of product development to do on the social side of the platform and this will be the core focus for the next few months. However, we will continue to build out our data in the USA and our other markets in order to ensure the core use case of the app is maintained and improved.
Finally, we are always thinking about funding and welcome contact from anyone interested in getting involved with us in that capacity.
Q7 What’s the best way for people to get in contact with you?
People interested in Localmint.com can contact us anytime via email [email protected]. If a retailer wants to upload their store details they can do so at the following link: http://www.localmint.com/home/addbusiness or if they have multiple stores just shoot us an email. Our iOS app is available to download here.
If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase get in contact with me on [email protected]