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Pingup Blog

Featured Businesses for July, Available on Pingup’s Booking API

July 23, 2014 | By | No Comments">No Comments

As the heat and humidity ramps up this summer, you may find yourself in need of an extra visit to the salon in order to keep your hair from getting out of control. Likewise, you may be looking for some nutrition advice in order to get yourself in beach-ready shape. Both of the above issues can be resolved through businesses on the Pingup API: Browse through our featured businesses for July, and have a look at a sampling of the many health and beauty businesses in our inventory.

iPad Meets the Pingup Booking API in Latest Showcase App Release

July 21, 2014 | By | No Comments">No Comments

BookNow by Pingup for iPad - see our Booking API in action on a tablet

iPad Booking is here! We are excited to announce version 2.1 of our booking API showcase app, BookNow by Pingup for iOS.

This latest version adds full iPad support, enhancements to search & discovery for iPhone and iPad, as well as the usual bug fixes. BookNow has been designed to show the what’s possible for consumer-facing products that want to add appointment booking capabilities to their own mobile and web apps by using our API.

Download or update BooNow on the App Store

Booking API Showcase App, BookNow, gets Updated to Version 2.0

July 7, 2014 | By | No Comments">No Comments

BookNow by Pingup for iOS

We recently released version 2.0 of our booking API showcase app, BookNow by Pingup for iOS. This latest version represents a major redesign, and was built from the ground up to show off the growing number of businesses available for booking in our API network.

This release features major UI enhancements and a streamlined booking process to act as a guidepost for consumer-facing products that may wish to use our API. BookNow is a universal app, with an iPad version coming soon!

Download on the App Store

Large Companies Getting Involved in Local

June 30, 2014 | By | No Comments">No Comments

Prior to the internet age, consumers had to rely on unwieldy directory books in order to search for or discover local businesses. Local businesses were similarly constrained in their resources, as they had limited options for scheduling appointments with customers and placing ads in relevant, highly-trafficked locations. Today, both consumers and businesses have it much easier, as both parties have an increasingly large number of local commerce and discovery technologies at their disposal. Although the number of companies that provide digital tools for engaging in local commerce has been expanding for years, we have recently seen a number of large organizations paying particularly close attention to this segment:

  • Facebook has partnered with Single Platform and Yext in order to integrate up-to-date menus of services into their “Places” product. Facebook also recently formed a 12 person SMB council, which has in turn set up a 5 city tour designed to attract the ad dollars of small businesses. Although there are 30 million active business pages on the social media site, few of them generate any revenue, and Facebook is attempting to change this.
  • Google is also getting involved in the local game, recently announcing the introduction of its small business tools platform called “Google My Business”. Google My Business is meant to be an updated and more user-friendly version of Google Places, which many business owners complained was opaque and clumsy to use. From this platform SMB entrepreneurs will be able to manage their analytics, reviews, Google Plus information, and AdWords campaigns.
  • Priceline, mainly known for helping consumers in their quest to find travel deals, has dipped their toes in the local waters by acquiring OpenTable. Although this move was larger and more widely publicized, it is not Priceline’s first attempt at getting involved in local restaurant search, as they also acquired food discovery app Foodspotting for $10 million in early 2013.
  • In some potentially bad news for services such as Thumbtack and Angie’s List, ecommerce giant Amazon will look to launch a local services marketplace later this year. Amazon’s marketplace, which will benefit consumers looking for everything from dog-walkers to plumbers, is reportedly set to be rolled out on a city-by-city basis. Not only this, but Amazon is also purportedly launching a takeout delivery feature as part of their Amazon Local daily deals app. The aforementioned feature would be rolled out on a limited basis, and would be set up to directly compete with the likes of GrubHub and Seamless. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Amazon make more forays into the local sector in the future.
  • Lastly, Foursquare has made waves with the announcement that it is splitting its eponymous app in two, with each resulting new app providing completely separate functions. The check-in feature from the previous version will be spun off into an app called Swarm, while the main Foursquare app will focus solely on local search, discovery, and recommendations. This move is in line with the stated aspirations of CEO Dennis Crowley, who was quoted as saying that he wants Foursquare to be the “location layer for the internet.” With this uncoupling, Foursquare will seek to leverage their massive database of crowdsourced location and behavior information into ad dollars. Foursquare will reportedly attempt to lure marketers with the prospect of location-based and contextual advertisements, and they may be on to something with this agenda: According to internet sage Mary Meeker, mobile advertising is primed for massive growth in the upcoming years.

As the amount of mobile devices and mobile activity grows, we are seeing a symmetrical growth in the number of opportunities for innovation in the local discovery and commerce universe. Many large companies are paying attention to this fact, and are attempting to position themselves for future success in this realm.

Featured Businesses for June, Available on Pingup’s Booking API

June 18, 2014 | By | No Comments">No Comments

For the month of June, we bring you another sampling of the many businesses available on our booking API. Whether you’re looking for a stylish haircut, a waxing to prepare for beach season, or even a dog training school for your pooch, we’ve got you covered with our wide array of locations and business types.

4 Stats on the Growth of Mobile, and Why Businesses Need to Pay Attention

June 16, 2014 | By | No Comments">No Comments

The Future is Mobile illustration

The Future is Mobile

Rapid mobile adoption is changing the digital landscape, and greatly impacting how consumers and businesses interact. However, even as the presence of mobile increases among consumers, few businesses are unlocking the power of mobile to reach these consumers. Here are four stats that show mobile growth, and demonstrate why businesses need to maximize on mobile.

America is a smartphone nation.

Nielsen estimates that smartphones account for 64 percent of all mobile phones used in the U.S., and 80 percent of Americans who recently bought a new phone bought a smartphone. Additionally, according to a recent BI Intelligence report, there are at least 165 million active Android and Apple iOS devices in the U.S., used by 78 percent of the adult population (age 15-64).

Mobile usage is at an all time high.

According to another BI Intelligence report, U.S. consumers now dedicate one-fifth of their media consumption time to mobile. In fact, consumers are spending an average of two hours a day on mobile devices (or 8 percent of their day), and that number is continuously increasing.

Mobile adoption has dramatically increased overall internet use.

The recent proliferation of smartphones and tablets has largely been responsible for a 93 percent increase in internet usage since 2010, according to research from comScore. Additionally, one out of every four searches are conducted on mobile devices.

Mobile is revolutionizing traditional marketing and advertising.

Emarketer estimates that by 2015 mobile marketing in the U.S. will generate $400 billion in revenue compared to $139 billion in 2012.

Consumers are rapidly becoming more mobile in their behavior, and expect businesses to match their mobile needs. From social media to local search, consumers desire access to everything, from anywhere and at any time. It’s clear that mobile isn’t going away anytime soon, and by implementing a strong mobile strategy businesses can ensure they are capitalizing on consumer mobile adoption.

The Growth of Mobile Apps and the Impact on SMBs

June 4, 2014 | By | No Comments">No Comments

Throughout the lifecycle of the internet, there have been a vast number of changes in the way users interact with and access it. We have witnessed a progression from dial-up modems, to cable modems, to wireless routers. Similarly, we saw users connecting via desktop computers, then laptops, and finally mobile phones and tablets. Despite all of these dramatic evolutions, the primary tool people have been using once connected to the internet has remained unchanged for years.

Although browsing the web has enjoyed a long reign as the dominant action in which internet users engage in, mobile applications have recently been surging in popularity. In fact, the number of Americans using mobile apps to access the internet recently surpassed the number using PCs. It might be tempting to attribute this change solely to the growing ubiquity of mobile devices, along with a corresponding decline in PC sales, but looking at greater overall mobile usage only reveals part of the story. In fact, as mobile app usage has been growing, mobile web usage has actually been shrinking. As the chart below illustrates, as total time spent on mobile devices rose a modest amount (from 2:38 to 2:41) over the past year, time spent on mobile apps jumped from 2:07 to 2:19, while time spent on the mobile web fell from 31 minutes to 22 minutes.

Average time spent on mobile devices

Despite the fact that there is a clear shift in consumer behavior towards mobile apps, most SMBs are behind the curve, with the majority (91%) not even having a mobile-optimized website. Small and medium sized businesses are ignoring these current internet usage patterns at their own peril, as some estimates place the growth of mobile sales to increase by 640% in 2014. Although many local businesses missed the boat on getting their sites ready for mobile web traffic, they have an opportunity to rectify their situation by getting out in front of more recent trends.

As users move away from the web and towards apps, local businesses and online services would be wise to ensure that they have some sort of mobile app strategy to make certain that they aren’t missing an opportunity to reach as many eyeballs as possible. Although developing a point solution app can be very expensive for SMBs, savvy entrepreneurs can make efforts to ensure that their listings appear on as many business directory apps as possible.

Why the “Book” Button is the New Click-To-Buy

May 29, 2014 | By | No Comments">No Comments

Book Now is like Buy Now

When eCommerce began to gain popularity in the 1990s, click-to-buy functionality was revolutionary for the retail economy. The ability to make purchases by simply clicking a button created a new revenue opportunity that countless brands, department stores, and online merchants have since eagerly latched onto as a key method for completing sales transactions.

Business aggregators such as Yelp, YP, Google Maps, and Facebook have created a similar opportunity for SMBs in the service industry (salons, spas etc.). These sites currently allow consumers to engage in many of the same actions as eCommerce sites, such as viewing customer reviews, reading descriptions of the product, and comparing pricing information; however, what is missing on many on these sites is the ultimate call to action, the ability to book a service.

The “book” button is the next logical feature to be added to these directories to unlock added revenue for both the directories themselves and the SMBs that leverage these listing tools. When a consumer visits a business profile page on a directory app, they are showing initial interest in the business (or intent to buy) —they may then read previous customer reviews, scroll through pictures, or zoom in on the location, in order to better inform their decision on whether the business they are viewing fits their needs. These directory sites currently provide the information consumers need in order to go ahead with their booking decision. However, once a consumer decides they are ready to book a service, more often than not they have to call a salon or spa and sit on hold, or (even worse,) they realize it is after business hours and have to postpone or even abandon their booking journey. Scenarios such as these can cause businesses to lose potential customers who were otherwise committed to booking a service. Adding a “book” button to directory listings enables a whole new eCommerce layer for both SMBs and host sites, by allowing them to capture bookings in real-time. Since cancellation rates are generally very low, SMBs are almost guaranteed a sale once a consumer schedules an appointment for a service.

The book button opens up entirely new revenue streams for SMBs in the same way that click-to-buy has for traditional online purchases. Furthermore, it allows businesses to quickly and seamlessly capture the consumer’s intent to buy. Offering a “book it now” button on a business listing eliminates the friction of a pesky phone call or email, and helps small business owners drive more appointments and identify new customers.

The Pingup Booking API is the first mobile-centric API that enables real-time appointment booking. Our API creates an entirely new eCommerce layer for directories and software providers by giving consumers the ability to take action and book a service directly on a business directory, thereby unlocking new revenue models for small service-based businesses. Learn more about the Pingup API on our developers site.

 

Understanding The API Economy

May 27, 2014 | By | One Comment">One Comment

Think for a moment about how you rely on your senses to evaluate your surroundings.

Say for example you come into contact with an apple — your eyes provide you with the first crucial piece of information, letting you know that the object in front of you is red and spherical. Then, as you reach out to touch this object, your fingers tell you that the exterior is smooth. Finally, as you bring the object in question closer to your face, you inhale and smell the familiar aroma of an apple. All of this data coming to you from disparate sources assists you in making the ultimate decision that the thing you are holding is in fact an apple, and is safe to eat.

In the example above, you could think of an API as being the pathway that these sources of information (visual, auditory, tactile) take in order to get to your brain. Although the information is recorded in separate places, it is able to be processed and synthesized in one central location.

APIs (or Application Programming Interfaces) are essentially tools that enable the sharing of data, content, or services between software from two separate organizations. A common example of APIs at work are the many websites or digital services that require you to create an account, but allow you to sign in with your Facebook or Twitter credentials. Today, APIs are often mentioned when we talk about things such as mobile apps, cloud computing, social, and the internet of things. As an organization, there are many benefits to opening up access to your resources via an API, such as being able to reach a wider audience, finding new revenue streams, and increasing the efficiency of your product. As a growing number of organizations are taking advantage of APIs to increase their respective values, a term has arisen to describe this phenomenon: The API economy.

According to 3Scale, there are five axioms that the idea of the API economy is built upon:

1. “Everything and everyone will be API enabled”

This prediction is based upon the fact that the number of APIs is rapidly growing. Once only a possibility for large corporations with vast amounts of resources, due to the evolution of integration technology and the expansion of mobile technology into more and more products, building an API is now very feasible for smaller organizations.

programmableweb.com chart

The growth of open APIs from 2000-2011. Source: ProgrammableWeb

2. “APIs are core to every cloud, social and mobile computing strategy”

Everyone recognizes that cloud, social, and mobile as popular buzzwords these days. What isn’t frequently mentioned, however, is that APIs are crucial to all of these quickly expanding technologies.

3. “APIs are an economic imperative”

The primary function of APIs is to add value by allowing access to services, data, or content. This added value can be seen through increases in efficiency, consumer reach, and features, and as such most organizations would be wise to develop an API strategy.

4. “Organizations must provide core competence through APIs”

3Scale talks about there being two components to this axiom: APIs should provide substantial value to their target audience, and APIs should cover it’s organizations core competencies. If we take the example of the Twitter and Facebook APIs from earlier, we can see that they follow this axiom: People derive value from not having to create hundreds of accounts for different websites, and Twitter’s and Facebook’s core competencies are their large user bases.

5. “Organizations must consume core competencies of others through APIs

Not only should organizations look to share their assets with others, but they should also be looking to improve upon their product by consuming assets as well.

Expect to hear more about the API economy in the future, as companies look to improve upon and more widely distribute their products by leveraging the power of integration.

Featured Businesses for May, Available on Pingup’s Booking API

May 14, 2014 | By | No Comments">No Comments

Whether consumers are looking to book a blowout at a dollhouse-themed bar in Las Vegas, or a pedicure at a sleek, modern spa in Minneapolis, we’ve got them covered. Not only does our API cover a lot of ground geographically speaking, but it also contains some pretty cool-looking businesses as well. Take a look at our May featured businesses, and get a feel for the kinds of establishments we have in our ecosystem.