December 2, 2014
This past Saturday, President Obama was spotted at local bookstore Politics & Prose – undoubtedly a renowned institution in Washington, D.C. – supporting the small business economy by purchasing 17 books from the shop. In recent years, the Saturday after Thanksgiving has been designated as “Small Business Saturday”, all in an effort to drive sales at small businesses – an ethos entirely opposing that of Black Friday-mass-retailer-hysteria. While Small Business Saturday has come and gone, that doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to support small businesses everywhere. With YOPP, consumers are provided with an app that connects them with local, small businesses that have precisely what they’re looking for.
“I started a small business in 2007 and therefore I understand the difficulties many small businesses face as they build their business, grow their customer base and look for value-added ways to market to and reach an increasingly mobile shopper,” said founder Shana Lawlor.
Lawlor is well-acquainted with small businesses, having run her own small business prior to creating Arlington Small Business Day (ASBD) in 2012 to raise awareness of of locally-owned businesses and service providers in Arlington, Virginia. During its first year, ASBD had its own encounter with President Obama when he stopped by One More Page Books where (similar to this past weekend) he shopped. In its second year, ASBD attracted even more local businesses and even brought out the support of local government officials and organizations, including Congressman Jim Moran.
“From ASBD, it became clear that a piece of technology was needed to make ASBD everyday. That’s how YOPP was born.”
YOPP is a new mobile app launched in September that supports small businesses by connecting them to consumers who are looking for specific items. Through YOPP’s network of shoppers and local businesses, users can easily get notified if and when a local shop carries an item that he or she is looking for. YOPP users simply have to post the item that they’re looking for – whether that’s a pair of knee-high, brown, leather boots or a place that serves local craft beer – and both existing users on the app and local merchants will be notified and can lead you to where you need to go. In the case of local businesses, they’ll receive notifications when a user’s demand matches something in a shop’s stock, and then the local merchant can reach out directly to the consumer.
“The world of online shopping is completely overwhelming,” said Lawlor. “Shoppers are forced to search in one place or the other wasting valuable time and money. YOPP is both a social and consumer driven platform that also enables interactive shopping, crowdsourcing and location-based notifications.”
What’s great about YOPP is that it also allows small businesses to create customized micro-sales through “invites” that enable them to move specific inventory in a set amount of time – giving them an additional tool to help them close their margins. Users of the app are also provided with features that allow them to “spot” great sales and post them to the rest of the YOPP community.
Since launching in September, YOPP continues to grow at a rate of 22 percent, according to Lawlor, and they are far exceeding their internal goals on both the small business and consumer side.
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