With Chinese New Year approaching and families making the rounds visiting relatives, it can be a pickle to decide where to shop and dine, especially with so many options available.
Chalkboard, a Singapore and US-based location-based ad network that has mostly been focused on reaching out to businesses, is now targeting consumers with the recent launch of its new Facebook app that allows people to find out what offers are nearby, all at one glance.
The app (try it out on Facebook) is created by UI designer Serge Baluyot and software engineer Anuj Bheda.
According to Anuj, the app “acts as a one-stop shop for our users to find out what are today’s specials that are around them and what their friends have been viewing.”
He added: “One of the things we have never had at Chalkboard is a consumer-facing dashboard to let users interact and engage with small and medium businesses. We created the Chalkboard Facebook App to act as a one stop shop for our users to find out today’s specials that are around them, what their friends have been viewing, examples being freshly brewed coffee or newly imported beer and accordingly decide where the best place to hang out would be.”
So if I am heading to the Joo Chiat area, I can fire up the Facebook app, indicate the location on the map, and instantly see a list of offers from merchants around the area, and even how far the particular restaurant or shop is away from the selected location.
The app is designed to take advantage of the virality of social networks, which benefits both businesses and consumers on the Chalkboard network. “We hope to increase the sharing and discovery of specials coming from our merchant partners and induce a form of virality that will help them attract more customers,” said Anuj.
If I like a particular cafe, I can “follow” it within the app, which will alert me to any future updates the merchant posts on Chalkboard. And if I have Facebook friends who is also using the app, they will know that I’ve followed that particular cafe. All this is happening within the “Activity” page of the app, which acts as a hub of social activity.
Of course, the app allows me to recommend a merchant to my entire social network on Facebook too.
“Our design philosophy while building the app was to create something that lets users view, share and access content in as few steps as possible,” said Anuj.
The company has been introducing a slew of improvements to its product, but so far they have been business-facing. Late last year, they enhanced their merchant dashboard, allowing it to sync with the merchant’s Facebook Page. Any updates that they make on Chalkboard will now show up on their Facebook Page.
They also introduced a heat map that lets merchants see which areas around them has the most interactions.
From the looks of it, I’ll speculate that Chalkboard is heading towards becoming an end-to-end e-commerce platform that aims to connect businesses seamlessly with consumers. There certainly is room to integrate an e-commerce feature into the Facebook app, allowing consumers to make transactions more directly.
I certainly won’t be surprised if they come up with a standalone offering on the App Store.
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