New Shopping Tool Poaches Deals for Online Checkout

Remember the days when products had one price and went on sale a few times a year? Today, retailers adjust their prices dynamically, leaving consumers to the often overwhelming and frustrating task of combing the Internet for the best deals.

Now a company called PoachIt claims it can simplify this search through the online shopping jungle with an intelligent shopping tool.

Users who join the PoachIt site can drag the “poach” button to their browser’s bookmarks bar, creating a bookmarklet that extends the browser’s functionality. When they shop online and view a product they want, clicking the Poach button either finds them a valid coupon code to use at checkout, or alternatively, adds the item to a tracking list that will alert them when that item comes on sale in the future.

“With all the price variations, consumers are asking themselves ‘Am I being duped? Maybe there’s a better deal out there that I’m missing,’” says Gidi Fisher, founder and chief executive of PoachIt. “PoachIt brings transparency to online purchasing,” he claims. 

According to PoachIt, about 80 percent of the millions of coupon codes on the Internet are invalid. Shoppers who are prompted at online checkout to insert a coupon code often launch a fruitless search for a code they can use to get a discount on the product. The result is wasted time and frustration for the consumer—and for the merchant, a higher probability that potential customers get distracted and abandon their purchases.

This feeling of going away empty-handed also leaves a bad taste in the mouth of the consumer, which could influence their decision to return to the site. “Americans have come to expect discounts and coupons, and you just can’t take that away from them,” says Fisher, pointing out the disastrous results when J.C. Penney recently tried to discontinue coupons. “It’s not easy to change that mentality,” he adds.

PoachIt’s technology combs through millions of codes gathered by Internet aggregators to determine which ones are valid, the company says. It also tracks the pricing history of products for those items which consumers consent to receive alerts on, which Fisher says helps them make an informed purchasing decision.

The NY-based company has been beta testing its site among about 20,000 users for six months ahead of this week’s launch, which is now open to all users.

A former executive with The Nielsen Company, Fisher founded PoachIt in January 2012, also enlisting Ben Yee, formerly with The Gilt Groupe, as chief experience designer. The company has received around $1 million in funding from angel investors including investor and philanthropist Ronald Lauder, Fred Langhammer, former chief executive of Estee Lauder, and Itzhak Fisher, founder of Pereg Ventures and executive vice president of global business development at The Nielsen Company.

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