A Little Box that’s Transforming Local Retail

Mark Cummins, co-founder of Pointy

My name is Mark Cummins, I’m co-founder of Pointy. Two and a half years ago I left Google and set out to make local retail work better with the internet. A lot of local stores were losing out to e-commerce, and I thought it didn’t have to be that way.

So I started Pointy. I’m really proud of what we’ve built, and it’s really exciting to finally be able to talk about it!

1. The Problem – Finding products

Imagine you’re trying to buy something specific, but you don’t know where it’s sold. If you type the product name into Google, you’ll probably find a dozen e-commerce websites selling it. But there’s no way to find it in your local stores!

This is what lead me to start Pointy. It seemed crazy that I could search the entire internet, but still didn’t know if what I wanted was in the store around the corner.

I particularly remember trying to find some craft beer I’d had at a party. The only place I could find it was on the internet, even though there was definitely a local store that sold it. If I’d know where that beer was available, it would have been much easier for me to buy it in person than to wait for an e-commerce delivery.

That’s why I started Pointy – to help local stores pick up footfall, by being found in searches.

2. Solution – The Pointy Box

This is where my background as a Google engineer comes in. We designed a device called the Pointy box that plugs into a store’s barcode scanner.  The box picks up product UPC codes, and uses that to populate a website of the products sold in the store.

Here’s an example of what it looks like. Once you connect the Pointy box, we find all the product names and images, and automatically list all your store inventory online.

These pages are optimized for search engines, so that when people nearby search for products you stock, they can now see that it’s available in your store, not just on some big e-commerce site.

3. The Vision – To make it as easy to find things in local stores as it is online!

We’ve only recently launched this, and the response has been amazing. Already there are retailers across 47 states using Pointy! We’ve helped these stores appear in Google search results millions of times already, and we’re barely getting started.

Our mission is to help every local store pick up more footfall like this. We know local stores don’t have big budgets, so we knew we needed to keep the price low. Pointy can do a lot, without breaking the budget.

US Map

Judging by the response so far, it looks like we’re solving a problem that a lot of retailers have!

Are You A Retailer?

If you are retailer and would like to get involved use the button below to fill in your details and we will be in touch.

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Pointy founders

Charles (left) and myself (right)

  1. I’m not a retailer but is there away to spread the word and make some $ for my efforts on line
    Jesse Donnelly in Valencia Ca on FB

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  2. I haven’t looked into your cost for this, but as a small shop owner, and older than a millennial, I have to say one thing; do we really need to be encouraging this level of laziness? Part of the joy of shopping is in the physical act of walking into a new environment; meeting new people (that would be me and my family in this case, who operate the shop), and perhaps learning more about the artists that we represent than one would be able to learn from a bar code scan. Plus… hello, phones?? We answer phone calls and emails about our artists and products. This is one of the many services we lowly humble humans can still provide the world.

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    1. Hi thanks for your comment and apologies for the delay in responding! Just to clarify, the aim of Pointy is to direct people doing online searches into your physical store. Pointy is not an e-commerce website, we do not enable retailers to sell their products online. When the retailer scans a product, we receive the barcode number and find an image and description to match it. We display it on your Pointy Page and optimize it so that it will rankly highly in local Google searches. When someone searches for a product that you stock on Google they’ll be directed to your Pointy Page where they can find all of your store details including opening hours, directions to the store and contact details. With Pointy we aim to leverage online searches in a way that gets more people into your brick & mortar store where you can build a relationship with them. Hope this makes sense – please get in touch if you’d like any additional info!

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    2. I don’t believe this is rooted in laziness. If sometime is searching for a specific item, they probably don’t want to go to the 6 possible stores in a town or contact 6 different stores to find out if they happen to stock said item. This system will help that person find your store because your sell that item. Otherwise, they might just order it online because that’s much easier than hunting an item down through 6 stores. I certainly don’t have time to do that!

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  3. Thanks for your efforts for brick and mortar localities. Unfortunately I don’t use Barcode system for my boutique, so think I’m out of luck. Best wishes for Pointy.

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  4. we are just small mom and pop store and we don’t have barcodes in our store. can we still join in ?

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  5. On the surface this looks fantastic! Hope the details don’t disappoint.

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  6. Julie G Workman November 4, 2017 at 3:32 am

    I often feel frustrated as I search for specific items that I can only find online and know at times I could simply pick it up locally if I knew where to go! I do NOT have time to call or go to potential shops searching. Additionally, I would prefer to support local businesses when possible. I have hoped for something like this, congratulate you, and wish I’d have come up with it myself. My next desire…if you could upload an item photo to a site that could then display vendors that stock the item, it would be amazing. So, how as a consumer can this work for me now? I’ve been shopping online the last two days and found nothing local.

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