Way back in 1996, before I left Wired and started the Standard, my wife and I had a little brainstorming session. I thought it’d be really cool if we started a website where local merchants could list their wares, so folks could check to see if a local business had what they were looking for before going down to the store. We decided against the business, but I’ve remained fascinated by this concept. It just seems to make sense, that at some point you will be able to check into the inventory of your local stores to see if what you want is there, and even reserve it or have it delivered to you.
A new search engine is now launching that promises to bring part of this concept to the world. Called StepUp.com, it’s “A unique new web tool that helps shoppers find products locally.”
From their release: Now, for the first time, the Internet’s 80 million web shoppers can easily find popular retail products near their current location and avoid waiting for online purchases to arrive by mail. In addition, StepUp.com offers merchants a simple and economical way (free, for a limited time) to easily list their products online, driving web shoppers to their physical locations. StepUp.com combines the benefits of online shopping with local commerce, providing consumers and local merchants a powerful new tool.
“We founded StepUp.com because local shopping is broken, and our mission is to fix it. Currently, half of the 80 million web shoppers in the U.S. prefer to purchase offline, but the Yellow Pages, the most-used local shopping resource, only list generic categories and force customers to call around in order to find specific products. This makes local shopping tedious at best,” said Kendall Fargo, President and CEO of StepUp.com. “At the same time, businesses have been frustrated trying to promote their local store inventory to the growing number of online shoppers. For those merchants, we developed simple patent-pending Internet sales tools, making it easy for them to drive new ‘walk-in’ business from local customers who use the web.”
StepUp.com’s sales tools include a client that automatically uploads inventory information continually from QuickBooks, the leading financial management product from Intuit Inc., so businesses have a hands-off way to drive sales from Internet shoppers even if they do not currently have a web presence. Businesses can easily register as member stores and will be able to begin merchandising their products immediately. For a limited time, StepUp.com is allowing businesses to sign up as charter member stores for free, allowing them to merchandise their products without paying any product listing fees.
Tip o the hat: Gary.
UPDATE: Clickz has a review here.