Digital Folio: Find Instant Deals While You Shop

Editor’s Note – May 23, 2011 –
This story has been updated from the original. Today we updated the image near the top of the page, and on May 19 we corrected factual inaccuracies in the original for which we apologize.

REDMOND, Wash. — May 19, 2011 — Digital Folio, a BizSpark One startup, delivers a multichannel shopping experience that makes online comparison shopping easier, faster and more fun for consumers.

May 22, 2011
Digital Folio takes an item selected online and instantly compares it to other retail prices on the Web.

Comparison shoppers know that finding the right product at the right price can be a time-consuming process. Coupons here, sale prices there, and special short-term promotions can overwhelm even the savviest online shopper. That’s where Denver-based Digital Folio steps in. As the first “always with you” Internet shopping resource, Digital Folio allows online shoppers to compare products and prices and receive instant money-saving offers based on individual shopping behavior.

Millions of consumers use the Web to research on a variety of topics and to comparison shop. For the first time, brick and mortar retailers have the opportunity to show consumers matching products and offer instant, real-time savings to encourage purchases online.

The idea for Digital Folio’s online comparison shopping tool began with a simple notion: Shoppers vote with their purchasing behavior. How can retailers and manufacturers influence that behavior so all parties win?

With Digital Folio, retailers can influence the purchase behavior of comparison shoppers by offering exclusive, real-time promotions as searches are made for specific products. Use Digital Folio to search for a digital camera, for example, and not only will you learn where those cameras are sold locally and online, but you’ll get real-time pricing and store availability for them as well.

Digital Folio also creates its own retail niche by allowing manufacturers and retailers to offer exclusive coupons and discounts to consumers who shop through Digital Folio. Taking advantage of social media channels, Digital Folio lets customers share the deals they find via their Facebook profiles, generating new sources of customers and revenue.

Digital Folio President Patrick Carter believes customers using Digital Folio will find unprecedented savings and great deals.

“Successful innovation for us is moving people from ‘this is neat’ to ‘I need this,’” says Carter. “There’s plenty of innovation in the retail space, but often the demos and concepts don’t transcend point solutions or scale to handle the reality of what is often a complex retail world. With Digital Folio, you can comparison shop with zero effort, find a product, get a price you probably won’t get anywhere else, and purchase the product like never before.”

Using an electronic folder concept, automatic pricing and promotional updates appear in a customer’s Digital Folio file as soon as they become available. To integrate online, offline and mobile retail shopping all in at once, Digital Folio turned to two key Microsoft products: Microsoft’s cloud platform, Windows Azure, which helps businesses lower up-front capital costs while providing a scalable infrastructure, and Microsoft Silverlight, a powerful development platform for creating engaging, interactive user experiences for Web, desktop and mobile applications when online or offline.

Building a Partner Network

May 18, 2011
Digital Folio uses Facebook to let shoppers share retail finds with their friends.

Every startup needs a strong partner network to succeed in the market. To get the best pulse on the market, Digital Folio solicited the help of a broad set of customers — and prospective customers — to understand how Digital Folio could reach all corners of the retail market. Carter also relied on business advisors, a group of retail experts, to help him better understand the customer experience and the many challenges associated with multichannel shopping to provide the best service to both customers and retailers.

Digital Folio also took advantage of technology and go-to-market support offered by Microsoft through the Microsoft BizSpark program. The company joined BizSpark in 2010 and was later selected to join BizSpark One, an extension of the program designed for high-potential startups, because of its unique potential to disrupt the retail sales market by providing more power to consumers and retailers alike.

“The BizSpark relationship is important for us,” says Carter, “because it offers product and technology relationships that we can deepen with Microsoft. Plus — and this is really critical for a startup — Microsoft helps us from a business area perspective. Whether we’re talking with potential partners about how Digital Folio can fit into their retail marketing plans or how we can innovate alongside their product groups, it’s pretty exciting to be working with them.”

A Bright Future

Digital Folio is just scratching the surface of what it plans to offer online shoppers. Its Visual SmartSearch is in beta now and allows shoppers to search for groceries, appliances and cameras using a distinctive visual method.

“We’ll soon be introducing some unique things around visual search to help consumers not only find single products but visually browse across retailers quickly,” says Carter. “For example, if no one carries the kind of camera you’re looking for, then Digital Folio can make some recommendations for other cameras that fit your criteria. The difference will be that we’ll offer these recommendations in a very visual way that’s on-the-fly across retailers. Microsoft Silverlight is a key piece of the technology we’ll be using for this.”

To Carter, innovation — and delivering on its promise — is what makes any startup business a success.

“We’re very lucky because there is an amazing growth opportunity here for our company,” says Carter. “Getting real traction in the opportunity means moving faster than competitors, certainly, but also not getting sidetracked from a focus on what provides a sustained, engaging experience for the consumer.”

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