Have you ever picked up a great handbag or wristwatch that you basically had to have, just to set it back down immediately after glancing at the price tag? Probably, unless you’re some sort of millionaire (in which case, call me). That feeling can quickly diminish a shopping experience, as price is the number one factor that prevents people from buying a product.
So, Nyopoly founder and CEO Shawn Harris set about creating a fashion e-commerce platform where the price wasn’t set in stone. The model allows users to see an item’s list price, and then state what they’re willing to pay in a type of “personal auction.” This means that with Nyopoly, you’ll never have to pay the list price of an item—you’ll only pay what you’re comfortable with, within reason.
Recently, Boston-based Nyopoly announced a partnership with Newmine, a retail strategy and advisory consulting company, with plans to bring that same personal price model of the platform to established retailers. As of now, Nyopoly buys wholesale goods from designers and brands, and then features them on the site, open to price negotiation (Nyopoly never features a minimum price or pre-set discount). With the new partnership, retail stores would bring on the technology of Nyopoly to their own business strategy.
Harris said that the partnership will be a “win-win” for both retailers, which can draw customers in without hosting store-wide sales, and consumers, who can feel confident that they paid the price they wanted to through negotiation.
The details of the agreement—such as which retailers will host the technology, and whether it will be an in-store device or mobile phone app—are still in the works, but in the meantime, Nyopoly users can look forward to the same seasonal trends available at personalized prices on the site.
The partnership with Newmine comes after almost a full year of success for the innovative company, which launched in November of 2012. But the idea for a site like Nyopoly came to Harris, who owned a menswear business at the time, in May of 2011.
“I was being approached by Gilt City [and] Buy With Me, to take my goods and discount them and do a 50-50 share with them, which would get me 25 percent of retail value,” said Harris. But that model didn’t appeal to him. “I’m not going to get any money, and people aren’t going to come back,” he said.
So he figured there had to be a better way to excite shoppers without “giving up everything.” And based on the idea that individuals value the same products differently, Nyopoly was born.
A trip to the Nyopoly website shows a familiar e-commerce website design. Membership is free, and after signing up, users can browse different brands’ (currently, the site features products from Prada, DKNY, Anne Klein, Lacoste, Marcia Moran and more) items; right now, Nyopoly features handbags, watches, shoes, jewelry and other accessories, but the company plans to roll out apparel and home goods in the coming future.
To buy an item, users can make an offer based on the list price, and then Nyopoly’s pre-programmed algorithms will determine whether or not to accept that price. If not, the engine will make a counteroffer, and if the user wants, he or she can purchase the item at that price, or go back and make a new offer, higher than their first. A user can make three offers and reject three counteroffers before that item is unavailable to them for 48 hours.
I tested out Nyopoly, and after my third offer was accepted by Nyopoly’s system, I walked away with 32% off of Ana Lublin flats, originally $79. If you’re not used to negotiating prices, you’ll soon become accustomed to how Nyopoly works, and be able to use that technology to your personal price preference.
To further benefit customers and encourage smarter negotiating, the intuitive technology functions on a loyalty-based rewards system. As Harris puts it, the formulas assessing a user’s offers know whether or not he or she is being serious (meaning, don’t offer to pay $5 for a $200 purse). The better the offer a user makes, the better the computer will respond, and by accepting first or second round offers, the user will receive cash back credit on their account, to be put toward future items purchased on the site.
It’s this loyalty rewards system that can benefit a customer-retailer experience, and keep customers coming back to a store. Plus, according to Harris, the retailer will get a new advantage over resell competitors like Amazon, and the technology opens up a unique world of data that retailers can use.
“The data that we’re collecting, retailers don’t have that type of information. They don’t know what someone’s willingness to pay is,” says Harris. “All they know is that they set a price and someone bought it, and what their competitor is selling it for. This is a whole new set of data in helping retailers set prices. It’s powerful.”