New Web site provides retail info

John Shi ’12 spent more than three hours one weekend this fall combing New Haven retailers for wine glasses. That frustrating experience, he said, inspired him to streamline the way Yalies shop.

His solution: YaleLocal, a Web site that Shi said will help students find the products they are looking for at New Haven businesses. Shi said YaleLocal is an online search engine that centralizes product information from local businesses and provides users with directions, product ratings and prices.

Will Hutchinson ’12 and John Shi ’12 are launching an online search engine to provide students with information about where to buy merchandise in New Haven.
Amir Sharif
Will Hutchinson ’12 and John Shi ’12 are launching an online search engine to provide students with information about where to buy merchandise in New Haven.

“The shipping costs and time spent waiting are usually unnecessary when New Haven has so much to offer,” Shi said.

The service, which Shi is still developing with his business partner Will Hutchinson ’12, will expedite users’ shopping for everything from toiletries to textbooks. Shi has already registered YaleLocal as a Connecticut business and said the site will be fully operational by August.

Currently, Shi and Hutchinson are pitching the Web site to New Haven store owners and encouraging them to join the database, Shi said. Hutchison, the project’s graphic designer, said YaleLocal will have a simple, user-friendly interface — a “Google for everyday student needs.”

Shi said he hopes most of the more than 500 vendors in Yale’s vicinity will participate but declined to specify how many have expressed interest. He said he has already reached out to a number of local retailers, one of whom is Jeremy Cobden, manager of official Yale apparel shop Campus Customs on Broadway. Businesses that sign on will pay YaleLocal a fee to list their goods and services on the Web site, Shi said.

“As a student-run business, YaleLocal has more potential than a national program approaching students with a big, impersonal list of products,” Cobden said. He added that Campus Customs and similar businesses could use YaleLocal.com to market promotional discounts directly to Yalies.

According to a survey the duo sent out to Yalies in December, 85 percent of the 400 Elis who responded indicated that they would use a service like YaleLocal.

One student, Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins ’12, said YaleLocal could have broad appeal and considerable potential for growth into other urban markets.

“The strategy sounds like a great way to empower consumers, something that could easily be tailored to communities outside New Haven,” Kreiss-Tomkins said.

President of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Anthony Rescigno said YaleLocal is a business New Haven could benefit from at a time when New Haven retailers are losing customers to online or suburban vendors.

“It’ll be great for business here in New Haven if these students can make it easier for people to find what they need without heading to malls in the suburbs,” Rescigno said.

Prior to founding YaleLocal, Shi ran an online marketplace for discount introductory psychology and introductory macroeconomics textbooks.

His solution: YaleLocal, a Web site that Shi said will help students find the products they are looking for at New Haven businesses. Shi said YaleLocal is an online search engine that centralizes product information from local businesses and provides users with directions, product ratings and prices.

The service, which Shi is still developing with his business partner Will Hutchinson ’12, will expedite users’ shopping for everything from toiletries to textbooks. Shi has already registered YaleLocal as a Connecticut business and said the site will be fully operational by August.

Currently, Shi and Hutchinson are pitching the Web site to New Haven store owners and encouraging them to join the database, Shi said. Hutchison, the project’s graphic designer, said YaleLocal will have a simple, user-friendly interface — a “Google for everyday student needs.”

Shi said he hopes most of the more than 500 vendors in Yale’s vicinity will participate but declined to specify how many have expressed interest. He said he has already reached out to a number of local retailers, one of whom is Jeremy Cobden, manager of official Yale apparel shop Campus Customs on Broadway. Businesses that sign on will pay YaleLocal a fee to list their goods and services on the Web site, Shi said.

“As a student-run business, YaleLocal has more potential than a national program approaching students with a big, impersonal list of products,” Cobden said. He added that Campus Customs and similar businesses could use YaleLocal.com to market promotional discounts directly to Yalies.

According to a survey the duo sent out to Yalies in December, 85 percent of the 400 Elis who responded indicated that they would use a service like YaleLocal.

One student, Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins ’12, said YaleLocal could have broad appeal and considerable potential for growth into other urban markets.

“The strategy sounds like a great way to empower consumers, something that could easily be tailored to communities outside New Haven,” Kreiss-Tomkins said.

President of the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Anthony Rescigno said YaleLocal is a business New Haven could benefit from at a time when New Haven retailers are losing customers to online or suburban vendors.

“It’ll be great for business here in New Haven if these students can make it easier for people to find what they need without heading to malls in the suburbs,” Rescigno said.

Prior to founding YaleLocal, Shi ran an online marketplace for discount introductory psychology and introductory macroeconomics textbooks.

Comments

  • twining

    This is a terrific idea! The challenge is aggregating inventory from smaller stores who may not have the sophisticated inventory systems. But the concept of driving business to local retailers is great strategy for the stores and the users.