BlueList began as a "what-if" conversation in February 2013 with my BlueList partner-in-crime, John Hickman. John, who is the Managing Director of the San Diego Division of NewMark Merrill Companies, had noticed two concurrent trends crushing retailers, and surmised that there had to be a better way.
The first trend was that the traditional ways that merchants bring customers through their doors -- Newspaper Ads, Direct Mail and Yellow Page Directory listings -- were no longer effective.
The second was that merchants, desperate to find customers through any means, were signing up with deal voucher sites (Groupon, Living Social), which not only demanded exorbitant revenue shares on every dollar generated, but also forced margin destroying discounting.
Sold on the promise of customer acquisition costs and lifetime value models, they instead found high churn rates and a diminution of their brand.
The original notion for the BlueList was a craigslist-like simple system for enabling merchants to create real time offers that would broadcast to consumers smartphones when they were nearby. That basic notion has carried us forward, albeit with lots of learning and course corrections along the way.
What was a team of two, now has grown to include mobile app developers for iPhone and Android, back end software engineers, sales people, marketing people, admin people, web designers, graphical designers and a great support team.
BlueList is one of two ventures launched by BrightStreet Ventures, the real estate technology affiliate that I run (Datex Property Solutions is the other), and the common thread between both is great partners, smart partners, driven partners who you can also break bread with.
If you are interested in experiencing BlueList from the consumer perspective, sent a text to 313131 with "BLUELIST" in the body (one word). Then click the appropriate link that returns. If you are a merchant, and want to understand why BlueList's cloud-based Offer Management System (OMS) changes the game, go to GetBlueList.com, and click on the 'Merchant Login' link.
(What follows is the Press Release announcing BlueList)
BLUELIST LAUNCH DRIVES MORE THAN 400 OFFER REDEMPTIONS FOR MERCHANTS
Mobile service enables merchants to broadcast real-time offers to nearby consumers’ smartphones.
WOODLAND HILLS, CA, JULY 28, 2015 – Smartphones and mobile apps have forever changed the way consumers shop and merchants promote their business. Embracing this truth is BrightStreet Ventures, the technology affiliate of shopping center developer NewMark Merrill Companies, who has launched BlueList, a real-time mobile offers service for local merchants and nearby consumers. The service, which launched on July 4th, has over 60 merchants signed up across a wide range of retail, restaurant, and service categories in Southern California's Conejo Valley (Ventura County), and hundreds more across San Fernando Valley (Los Angeles County), including Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Gold’s Gym, Fazio Cleaners, Cold Stone Creamery, PostalAnnex, Subway, Walgreens, Regency Theatres, Jersey Mikes, and Sport Clips.
The initial launch event took place at Janss Marketplace, a community shopping center in Thousand Oaks, Calif. During the launch, more than 20 merchants at the center created special offers on BlueList. Over 500 people from Conejo Valley downloaded the free consumer app on their iPhones and Android smartphones. They quickly generated over 400 offer redemptions. Best of all, it was from the merchants that they already like, a win-win for both merchants and consumers.
“What makes BlueList so compelling is the fact that we can easily post offers that meet the real-time needs of our business (via BlueList’s cloud-based Offer Management System). There are no middlemen involved, the cost is compelling, and the system gives us the data that we need to fine-tune our efforts. It’s a game-changer,” said Jose Romero, District Manager at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.
Unlike deal voucher sites, which take a weighty revenue share, merchants can post mobile offers in BlueList for only $.99 per offer per location per day and time-limited flash deals for only $2.99 per offer per day. There is no revenue share and BlueList doesn't have start-up fees, memberships, or contracts for the merchants. There are no lock-ins or hidden costs of any kind, and it’s in a different universe cost-wise than if a merchant were to create and maintain their own application.
What also separates BlueList from deal sites like Groupon and Living Social is the fact that BlueList’s high concentration of offers in a given geographic area means greater consumer choice in each neighborhood BlueList serves.
BlueList is the end result of an 18 month outreach effort with local merchants, national chains, and shopping center owner-operators. A central goal of BlueList is being able to work in all kinds of neighborhoods and with all kinds of merchants. This has led BrightStreet Ventures to partner with shopping center operators like Regency Centers, Combined Properties, Westwood Financial Corp., DSB Properties, and NewMark Merrill Companies to give their merchants a simple, self-service – and instant – way to create and update offers based upon just in time market engagement objectives. (Merchants can sign up for BlueList, and create offers in a matter of minutes by clicking on the BlueList’s Merchant Login tab at www.GetBlueList.com.)
“While working with our over 1,500 tenants in three states, it became obvious that to be successful, tenants needed to have both an in-store and an on-line presence,” commented Sandy Sigal, President and CEO of NewMark Merrill Companies. “The options available to our tenants were either paying a huge revenue share or needing to pay very large monthly commitments, and nothing provided a real-time opportunity for merchants to connect with consumers moment by moment. This led us to come up with something we believe our customers and tenants will value, an inexpensive, localized, and real-time marketing platform that puts our small merchants on the same footing as the larger ones who can afford more expensive on-line platforms.”
BlueList provides consumers with a beautifully designed proximity app, one that highlights daily deals at the places around them they already like to shop. The BlueList is full of hundreds of everyday offers at your nearby center, or within a short few minute drive. The best thing for consumers is the app is free at iTunes and Google Play (or at www.GetBlueList.com) and the consumers don’t have to buy vouchers through the app.
When consumers are hungry, want to shop or need any service, they simply scan the app for nearby stores, and then visit the merchant who is offering the savings. The local surge of both merchants and consumers “getting BlueListed” suggests it will redefine and reconnect local stores with nearby consumers.
"In talking with hundreds of merchants over a number of years, it became clear that the traditional ways of bringing customers through the door are no longer effective, and the alternatives leave a lot to be desired. Mobile completely changes the game, offering new ways for local merchants and nearby consumers to re-connect," said Mark Sigal, Managing Director of BrightStreet Ventures. "It’s a community first endeavor, and BlueList is built to be the bridge between bricks and clicks.”
Offers are sortable by Nearby, Popular, Category, or Favorites. You can even Search within the Listing to find specific items of interest. When you redeem your offer, you can provide feedback on the experience directly to the merchants themselves.
BlueList was developed by BrightStreet Ventures, the technology affiliate of NewMark Merrill Companies, a shopping center developer with a 30+ year operating history and a 1,500 tenant real estate portfolio. The Company has partnered with a number of other shopping center owners, including Westwood Financial Corp., Combined Properties, Regency Centers and DSB Properties to maximize the breadth of neighborhoods that offer BlueList. For more information on BlueList, visit www.GetBlueList.com, or Get BlueList’d by downloading our FREE iPhone and Android software. Simply text the word “BLUELIST” (one word) to 313131, and click the appropriate return link. For more information on BrightStreet Ventures, visit www.brightstreetventures.com, or call (818) 880-4400.
COVERAGE: New service offers real-time local mobile offers (Chain Store Age)