Now here’s a neat idea for the innovation-hungry e‑commerce manager: develop a platform that aims to be the Amazon for local services and open appointments.
That’s how Redbeacon co-founder founder, Ethan Anderson, describes his new startup MyTime, which has just secured seed funding of $3 million led by GRP Partners along with numerous other investors.
Wiping the conversion time-lag
Redbeacon was acquired by Home Depot in 2012 and allowed consumers to search, locate and book local home services providers like housecleaners, plumbers or roofers. But there was a problem, Anderson now thinks: in the time lag between a consumer request and the bids returned by merchants, some potential buyers fell off the radar.
MyTime overcomes this problem of losing customers during their stay in the conversion funnel. Customers pay online with their credit card as they make their booking. The platform allows users to seek out appointments according to the type of service needed (massage, for example), the category (in this case, health and beauty), the date and the location of the service provider. All merchants featured on MyTime come with five (or four) star ratings on CitySearch and/or Yelp, and their profiles will include service descriptions and contact information. As soon as a merchant has been chosen, users can book an appointment (depending on availability) and pay immediately.
As the appointment nears, MyTime sends out an automatic reminder and consumers are guaranteed a full refund if they’re unhappy with either the merchant or the service.
For merchants, MyTime offers a dynamic pricing model which varies the price according to traffic density for those who opt in for it: all they have to do is set a price range and MyTime does the rest, sensing low traffic points like the middle of the day or week and setting the right price for appointments dynamically.
The free model creates a profile for a merchant’s business in the MyTime site, but doesn’t offer promotion, either on-site or via Facebook marketing, Google AdWords, etc. The paying model pushes ads for the merchant on Google and social networks and includes the dynamic pricing option as well as promoting specific appointment times.
E‑commerce analysts may concur with Anderson that the local services market provides plenty of unexplored opportunities for e‑commerce. A mobile site and app is in the pipeline.