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Waterloo startup The Display Rack launches in the U.S.

The Display Rack began life in Waterloo’s Velocity Garage as a simple gift exchange

The Display Rack began life in Waterloo’s Velocity Garage as a simple gift exchangeExactly one month before Christmas, Waterloo-based start-up The Display Rack has officially launched in the Buffalo/Niagara Falls region. If that seems like an out-of-the-way market for a test case, keep in mind that both places are ideally placed for high-traffic cross-border shopping by Canadians.

The Display Rack describes itself as Yelp for shopping, and works off the premise that “shopping is better in person”. It’s a new wrinkle in the showrooming phenomenon, and the expanding trend of people standing in shop aisles with computers in their hands, comparison shopping on the spot.

With access to inventory information for more than 250 retailers across more than 24,000 cities in the U.S., including Walmart, Target, Bestbuy and Home Depot, The Display Rack is nevertheless squarely focused on the shopping habits of Canadians. They point out that more than 1 million Canadians will spend an average of $468 per person in an infographic that also points out that despite the presence of 380 Walmart locations across Canada, Walmart USA remains Canadians’ most popular shopping destination.

The Display Rack began life in Waterloo’s Velocity Garage as a simple gift exchange. Got something for Christmas you maybe didn’t want so much? Want to get rid of it? Co-founders Fahad Siddiqui and Saif Saab created a platform for people in a similar predicament to find an appreciative home for unwanted gifts. At a certain point, however, the limitations of the gift exchange became apparent. Creating a novelty app is one thing. Creating an app that people actually use and continue to use is quite another. Thus, the model for creating a location-based platform for comparison shopping was born.

The limits of technology with regard to people’s habits also became apparent. Fahad Siddiqui wrote recently, “Despite all the excitement about online shopping, it still accounts for 5% of all retail. The fact is, most people shop in-store, and are expected to continue doing so.” So the question becomes, how can technology best enhance real-life shopping?

With one month to go before every retailer’s consumerist D-Day (aka. Christmas), The Display Rack is about to provide at least part of the answer to that question.

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