Shopping meant spending hours store hopping for the best deals or for a particular item. Not anymore, with the rise of ecommerce platforms shopping is simplified and efficient. This has changed the retail dynamics leaving many in the retail business struggling to cope. Many retailers in response have either ignored ecommerce or have opened their own ecommerce with some to little success. Citify purposes a marketplace in which all brick and mortar stores share a same ecommerce marketplace/directory and delivery system to maximise sells and customer retention in the face of modern challenges. What differentiates Citify from the other online Marketplace is that it focuses on the products available in the city.
Citify’s mission is to help local stores and consumers connect in a practical and efficient fashion.
• Consumers: Individuals who want to be able to order anything from their local stores may do so on one site.
• Store owners: Retailers expand their customer volume beyond traditional channels.
The company offers four primary value propositions to consumers
• Citify creates a convenient way in which consumers can find local products, browse through store inventory, search for particular items, and buy them online. This means that the consumer does not have to browse multiple websites, and has the ability to compare prices within each store in one online location.
• Citify creates the convenience for consumers that all this information is stored on location and can be accessed through their smart phone, tablet, and computer.
• Citify offers consumers customization of the way they are served. They can go to the store to pick up the item, have it delivered to their home or any other location which they are at the time.
• Citify offers the convenience of browsing and buying products from their city or other participating cities around the world. They can also receive products from their city while away in another location (if the merchant offers that possibility) direct contact with merchants and the ability to leave reviews questions for the merchant to answer.
The company offers five value propositions to merchants.
• Citify simplifies brand and product recognition. Consumers as they search through the platform either on the product marketplace or directory, may find a store that would otherwise overlooked.
• Citify makes it easy for any brick-and-mortar store to have an instant ecommerce store for sells and payments online. The online market allows stores to take multiple orders online.
• Citify generates more sells on the marketplace as there is more click traffic and shared marketing efforts to bring traffic to their online store. The stand alone sites may generate traffic, but, much like the shopping mall model, an online marketplace can bring in more online traffic.
• Citify allows merchants to care for their clients their way, create their own policies, chose any delivery system they wish, and have access to a local delivery system.
• Citify offers easy social media share buttons, an affiliate marketing system, app, chrome extensions, e-mail marketing, IPTV stations with a shopping channel, for more exposure for local businesses.
IV. General Company Description
Citify is the only online marketplace that allows local merchants to have a free brandable site, so as to allow the merchants to sell more of their products either locally or internationally through a city online market. Citify aims to be the e-commerce solution for city merchants business to consumers (B2C), suppliers or business to business (B2B), service providers, and particulars consumers to consumers (C2C) with a searchable site within a given city and to also to offer shop-to customer same day delivery.
Our objective is to help city business connect their products or services with their own brandable e-commerce solution that may attract potential local and international clients.
Our philosophy is that a city’s strength is on the ability to give all businesses all the tools they need to generate revenue online and offline. Our product is a tool to help businesses, suppliers, and service providers within a given city to sell on an online market focused on both local and international markets. While in the same time reap the advantages of an increase in market reach, an increase in revenue opportunity, an improvement in efficiency, and an expansion in product diversity.
This we believe can be achieved by having a shared online marketplace where businesses can add their products, location, and share a delivery system same day shop to customer service to maximise awareness and sells is the best model to achieve success.
V. Products and Services
The product is an e-commerce multi-cart system, created in html, CSS, Java Script, and JQuery, in the framework Bootstrap, with smartphone app to simplify access. It will have a responsive design, searchable data base, and its servers will be located with Marketplaceinc.
Our product is an online searchable platform for which merchants can open their own brandable online store for free in exchange for a percentage per sell and optional advertisement services. The platform will have all the essential tools needed to sell online while also being a member of a local online community. Merchants will be able to have their own loyalty programs, and a free point of sell connected with their shop, and everything else required to run a successful shop. Merchants will also be connected in real time to all their social media, other selected selling platforms. The platform will also allow service based businesses to post coupons to entice consumers to visit their store. It will be mobile friendly allowing a geolocation of the closes store in which a product can be found. There will be an online directory to find a particular business or businesses within the city according to category. This product should allow merchants to reach their potential local and international clients far better than randomly searches online, thus, generating local traffic to their site.
On the consumers end, the online services allow consumers to buy, reserve, browse, and find, compare, review, rate local stores, products and services online through any device. Furthermore, it gives the consumers the power to have their local store products at their door with our delivery service.
VI. Marketing Plan
In our own market research we have found that 80 percent of most merchants surveyed, in Montreal, do not have any online shop in any form, and this irrespective of the many online platforms open to them. Most merchants are aware of these other platforms but often state that they are irrelevant, expensive, disadvantageous, damaging to their brand, and /or deem it too time consuming of a venture. Some of the merchants whom have used online platforms found that they were unsuccessful to attract clients and gave up. Only 12 percent found that their online ventures were successful. Some of the merchants we have found outright resistance to the idea of a marketplace, because either they saw it as a competition to their online strategy, miss understood, or did not understand the concept or simply said they would not have the time to contribute to such a venture. Citify will develop a strategy to bring these hesitant retailers onto the site.
When asked about an online city specific marketplace 90 percent of those surveyed found the prospect of such services might be helpful.
There is an estimated 107,000 micro or small businesses in Montreal alone. Canada has about 1,107,540 businesses where only 36 percent of all small businesses have a website, while 91 percent of big businesses have a website. As we grow and expand it will be possible to tap into the American market where there are 28 million small businesses in which as much as half of all small businesses do not have a website, more so, do not have an e-commerce solution. Businesses who do not take advantage of the online market shift are losing out on many of the advantages that an e-commerce solution can offer and more importantly on the potential profit increase and growth of their customer base.
The e-commerce industry is a 1.6 trillion dollar industry where 40 percent of all internet users have purchased something online. This totals to about 1 billion potential active buyers online worldwide. The expected growth in 2015 is of 20.5 % comparatively to 2014. According to US statistics people are buying 24 trillion dollars woth of products worldwide with an 6.6% growth expected in 2015 and it is only projected to grow. As advantages and technology improves, it is foreseeable to expect that this trend will transform the function of traditional physical brick and mortar shops into showrooms and product displays.
However, though there are an estimated 12-to 24 million online stores, only 650,000 stores generate more than $1,000 a month. We believe the main reason for this statistic is the lack of traffic unsuccessful merchants and their products receive, this is one of the issues Citify is here to ratify with a smarter way to find local and international consumers.
Citify is poised to help city merchants to have their own searchable online market, so that local, ex-pats, and international clients can find and purchase their products.
The growth potential is enormous as more and more companies are seeking to get online and sell their products. Furthermore, given the growing demand from consumers for businesses to be online, and the number of businesses without an ecommerce provider, it is very likely that Citify will have a large share of the market as it expands.
At present, consumers feel confident enough to buy and trade on e-commerce sites. The only factor that hinders Citify from entering the market is the high cost of web development and advertisement. The few ways to overcome these barriers is to attract investors and strategic partners into investing in its development.
Citify clients will see the product as an indispensable utility and relatively inexpensive means to market and sell their goods and services to local and international clients. It will be easy, risk free, and potentially very profitable for them to use the service. The interface will be fresh and modern and time saving in terms of advertisement and selling on other markets such as Amazon. Merchants in general do not want to spend lots of time and money on this venture and wish t to be as simple as possible, and citify aims to make it happen with the absolute best tools technology can provide.
Features and Benefits
• Contact messaging
• Reviews and social media
• Coupons/Loyalty program
• Editable pages through (html)
• Easy to use pre-made templates
• API integration, connect bigger stores with affiliate programs
• Feed parser, to connect stores that have fresh impute from clients online stores.
• Shipping controls local and international
• Payment portal through Pay Pal, accept credit cards, debit.
• Easy export import products through CSV file
• Easy access to local delivery
• Free and premium packages
• Mobile friendly
• Free Point of Sale (POS) connected to the marketplace.
• The shop is linkable to any site or service they already have. Blog, website. Etc
• Reserve product, pick up, local delivery with calendar option
• Social media connection (real time products)
• Mail Chimp (e-mail marketing)
• Repeat purchase of frequently used items
• All shops are open 24/7
The advantages for shoppers
• Discover local stores
• View online via mobile devices for what is in the store before even.
• View coupons point program
• Order, reserve, pick up product at your leisure
• Get it shipped to your door
• Get deals
• Search by product or by store
• Search near to your area or according to postal code
• Do all of this via your mobile phone, computer, tablet
• Communicate with the store easily
• Reserve, pay and pick up another time, local deliver (if the shop provides such services)
• Rate the store, the products, and have a personal experience with the product and brand.
• All shops are open 24/7
Citify’s main objective to give merchants suppliers, and individuals of a given city to sell their products online through our e-commerce site. This means that Citify’s main customers will be individuals whom either already have a traditional shop, a factory, or a home business. The only criterion is that they are in the same given city. This, therefore, may include a very broad client base and every individual in every socio-economic class, gender, and education.
The targeted consumers will be primarily the local residents of a given city, but will also include potential international customers who wish to have products from this city. One can imagine ex-pats that wish to have a product only found in their native city, or the client abroad that wishes to have a certain product found in a given city.
There are many ecommerce types in which Citify might be completive with. There are four popular types of e-commerce solutions utilized by businesses; the most noted are the turnkey solutions like Shopify, the program-it-yourself shop like Woocomerce, the do-it-yourself-shop like Wix, and the mega e-commerce platforms like Amazon. Naturally there are other big providers such as Magento and Pastashop. We will also compare the Citify model with more similar models like Just Eat and Postmates
The main difference between Citify and the other big e-commerce names is that they are either stand alone e-commerce, or big e-commerce platforms. Citify does not enter into either category completely, since it is more of a hybrid of both. The merchants have a stand alone store while also being in a market place. The other e-commerce solutions, like either Shopify or Amazon are not concerned with one city in particular. In the case of Shopify, the merchant is left to his devices when it comes to attracting customers; in the other like Amazon have the advantage of huge global traffic, but is not concerned with the merchants image or brand. Comparatively, Citify is designed to attract both local and global consumers while merchants can still have their unique brand respected. Therefore, Citify’s competitors can not be said to be true direct competitors, since Citify solves a problem that these marketplaces do not, and that is to allow local businesses to target local customers while in the same time sell their products globally.
Citify’s strength is its flexibility, and its genuine interests in the profitability of the local city businesses online. Since we are local we can cater directly to the trends and needs of the local shops and suppliers, and always have the pulse of the changing trends in a given city. Another benefit is that a merchant who is unwilling to change website can always link a Citify e-commerce solution store to their current website seamlessly.
Citify’s niche is the local shops and the local residents that will benefit from our unique city index search engine for a given city.
Citify will use all affiliate product data available from stores, API integration and feed parsers, to upload millions of products onto the site instantly and generate revenue through affiliate percentages. Furthermore, this will break the static, give a sense of success, and raise the Citify brand as it is connected with bigger better known brands.
For medium and smaller with a web presence we will offer to open a store and scrape their online product data and upload it onto Citify.
For small to medium shops without a website, we will offer to visit open the shop, take pictures of their inventory, create a CSV file for them and upload it unto the shop. This is to help break the resistance that many small shops might have to the ecommerce venture in general. This will require a sales team and photographers to accomplish this task.
For medium and big shops, who do not have an online presence, nor a CSV, or data feed, but are common products, we will offer a barcode product recognition system in which they can simply scan their items and have instantly appear unto their Citify online shop.
The idea is to gain a very personal relationship with retailers, merchants, suppliers within a given city and guide them through the technological revolution.
To maintain a very positive relationship with our merchant clients we will do anything to cultivate a feeling of support and mutual respect.
• Cultivate and sponsor business and social events that help small merchants to gain more profits.
• Cultivate networking events for local businesses, retailers, suppliers, and service providers.
• Participate in charities and events where the business community in present or actively engaged.
• Work as a connector between businesses online and off.
• Be personable, approachable, open, honest, and think of the best ways in which to help our merchant clients.
The desired client perception of citify is one of a friendly utility who beneficial to the community. Not only must Citify strive to give outstanding client service but also maintain a reputation of on of creating and making benefits for the city in which it is present.
Great client service is to have easy access to client services in a prompt and timely fashion and to ensure that the relationship
• Hire an online market expert
• Focused ad marketing through various channels, Facebook, Ad words, etc
• Forums, blogs, articles
• Create videos
• E-mail marketing
• App on various markets
• Create service in which merchants will be able to create a little video about their services, where they can link it to their site
• Our product evangelists will give pamphlets out on the busiest streets while wearing a shirt bearing our logo. This is to get consumers to become familiar with Citify as a shopping site.
• Online affiliate program
• Pamphlets sent to residents in a given city to inform them of specials that can be found on our site.
• Reps on the streets evangelizing our site, and to create a word to of mouth traction
• Booklets that inform consumers of specials and products available on the site.
• We intend to be very active in every community in which Citify is present. This is a passion that we intend to pursue.
• Being active in the city’s community.
Retention; We will give a personalized attention to clients and will not hesitate to send someone to help merchants with their e-commerce platform if needed and to offer added services. The object is to keep clients for a lifeti
Citify revenue is based on its unique microcosm which many e-commerce providers do not have. Thus, this will allow us to accrue more potential revenue. This is a list of to be activated revenue streams when the site is founded. There are some products yet to be determined, since they are yet to be created. The first focus is to develop the ecommerce site. The essential is that citifies gains traction and generates through revenue percentage per sale and pay per click sections of this business plan. The other revenue streams will be phased in soon afterwards.
Details of the revenue stream
Citify gives a free shop to every retailer merchant in exchange for a 10% referral fee after each sell. This fee is taken automatically after a sale. This allows the merchant to open shop without any risks and will pay only after the sale. This is a good plan for shops to start with. This is might be better suited for merchants with a lot of low cost items.
Citify will use all available affiliate marketing data from big medium and small stores from around the world to be the initial revenue from the millions of products that will be feed to the marketplace through feed parsers. Such feeds can be found many affiliate marketplaces that will give us access to affiliate API, CSV, Data feed and generate revenue from such affiliate marketing that fits perfectly with the purpose of citify.
Pay per click (ads)
Citify’s front page will have a side bar for ads about various stores. This may attract a consumer’s attention and lead them to the advertisers shop.
These are revenue share opportunities that might arise. They can be had through partnerships with payment portals, credit cards, products and services etc. All avenues will be explored.
A printed booklet will be sent to every targeted consumer to increase visibility for the site and for the merchant products and services. Paid advertisement.
A delivery service will eventually be included with the ecommerce solution. This is still in the stage of development and will be included later as Citify develops.