The Man Who Wants to Make Your Retail Search Way Easier

Mike Sawyer, Founder of ShopNow

Ever tried to search online for a brick-and-mortar store, only to pull up a bunch of useless listings? San Carlos entrepreneur Mike Sawyer had the same frustrating experience, motivating the high tech product manager to create ShopNow, an iPhone app he calls, “clean and easy to use.”

By “clean,” Sawyer means “listings that reflect reality,” without annoying out-of-area retailers, wholesalers and home-based businesses.

“When you’re looking for a retailer or a product, you don’t want all that other stuff” bogging you down, Sawyer said.

After spending more than 15 years working for tech companies helping to introduce and commercialize their businesses, Sawyer decided he wanted the challenge of running his own company.

In 2009, the married father of two children at Brittan Acres founded ShopNow, a self-funded start-up located in a small office on Industrial Avenue.

With six employees, some in the U.S. and overseas, Sawyer’s goal is to make ShopNow the equivalent of Yelp, but for retailers instead of restaurants and services.

“For retailers, a review is far less important than product or merchandise selection,” he said, adding that accurate store hours and locations are also critical.

For consumers, Sawyer says, participation is important. He’d like to see ShopNow become a community rich experience, with users sharing information and giving feedback.

His ultimate goal? To make ShopNow the authority on retail listings by providing the best results for searches based on location and shopping categories.

While Sawyer is building his own database – focusing for now on California and New York – he plans to create a national product that will eventually allow ShopNow to make money by selling ad space to national brands.

Sawyer says he’ll be working on validating his business model through the end of the year.  If all goes according to plan, the next step is to attract venture capital funding.

In the meantime, you can download the free iPhone app on your phone’s App Store.

Categories include: Seasonal, Her Style, His Style, Kid Stuff, Market, Active Life, Digital & Media, Interests and Home Goods.

Right now, under Seasonal, you can find locations and hours for pop-up Spirit Halloween stores along with Diddums and The Kids Company and more.

On the ShopNow app, the LSS discovered Cynthia’s Costumes at 1313 Laurel Street. Had no idea store existed! (Immediately called owner…future story).

When Halloween is done and over, the focus will shift to holiday shopping.

Some tips: When the app starts the first time, say “yes” to allow your phone’s GPS to use your current location so the app can automatically pull up listings around you. No log-in required. Sawyer says ShopNow does not collect personally identifiable information

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  1. Jessica G says:

    Oh how funny! I once worked for a company called ShopNow.com during the dot-com boom in Seattle, WA. I saw a car in San Carlos with ShopNow on it and did a double-take. At one point we had 700 employees and took the company public … and then it bottomed out. But it was fun while it lasted! Good luck with your business venture, it is a great name and I am glad to see it used.

  2. Mike says:

    Yes – this is the same domain but a different company. After Network Commerce shut down the ShopNow consumer shopping network you knew in 2001, the domain eventually ended up with someone I was able to acquire it from in 2009. I’m really happy we were able to get it, it’s perfect for what we’re focused on. Thanks for the good luck!

    • Jessica G says:

      Yep – Network Commerce was our name when they attempted to diversify. I think I still have some old swag around in a keepsake box. If you ever get a call to check my references, you will know why! (Just tell them I am brilliant and was a huge asset to your company … ) Again, congratulations and good luck! I hope it is a huge success for you. See you around town!

  3. Mike Doherty says:

    Very cool Mr. Sawyer, best of luck to you!

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