People like you have been asking some very good questions about how Main&Me works. Here are some of the most common questions received since we’ve launched.
Q: Is this an app or a website or both?
A: Main&Me is an iPhone app (Android coming soon) and a website that share the same information. Everything uploaded from the app appears on the website, and vice versa. Both platforms display photo galleries of the goods and services your city uploads, so online shoppers can find local sources for the things they want before defaulting to Amazon (or other corporate online brands).
The app displays what’s for sale in the local businesses immediately around you (whether you’re home, or visiting another Main&Me city), and serves as the ever-ready “uptake” device for when shoppers and business owners want to add more photos to their wish lists or storefront galleries.
Q: How does it work? Who does what? Do shoppers take photos, or do businesses, or both?
A: The revolutionary thing about Main&Me is that either merchants or shoppers can create store pages for their community, simply by opening the app, snapping a photo, adding some basic info then saving it. Main&Me employs this user-generated content strategy so that no single executive director has to provide all the labor, and multiple shoppers or merchants can kickstart a Main&Me network in any given location. When shoppers upload photos of their favorite local goods and services, merchants can claim pages created on their behalf (or not) and add even more items to them. The Main&Me ecosystem consists of a single community page that automatically appears as “Your City&Me” and acts as a portal to multiple storefront gallery pages and shoppers’ user pages featuring their wish lists and registries (photos of the products and services they save for that purpose).
Q: What about businesses who already have a website or Facebook page?
Main&Me is designed to complement–not compete with–existing websites and Facebook pages. However, Main&Me is more of a dynamic portal than a static website. Think of it as your town’s virtual Main Street, making it possible for users to browse products, sales and events from all the businesses in your city from a single app. And because it’s free to get started, there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Q: What’s the customer’s incentive to use Main and Me? Do they get a deal? Do they find something unique that they couldn’t get elsewhere? What do they get (beyond helping their community)?
A: Everyone loves a deal, but it turns out merchants don’t like the way Groupon does it. We prefer the model of merchants announcing sales and events in the “Sales & Events” tab at the top of the app, just like they do in the local newspaper, so shoppers who opt in can choose to receive notifications, or simply tap the button to see what’s happening. The difference is that with the miracle of data analytics, your merchants will be able to see that users are actually reading and responding to the announcement of sales and events via the Main&Me app. The user data is anonymized, but it still counts as eyeballs actually reading the ads.
Q: Will you highlight the uniqueness of local businesses and their products and services?
A: We are all about celebrating uniqueness and indie spirit (national chains need not apply). We think user-generated photos of products and stores (as opposed to professional catalog shots) will capture the unique flavor of every local shop.
Q: Do the shops have a sticker and/or sign letting people know their stuff is on Main and Me?
A: We plan to provide any local merchant who wants to promote Main&Me with shop window stickers and shop local messanging posters. Check out our Facebook page for a sample.
Q: Can Main&Me users buy stuff online?
A: Our research shows that few local business owners are equipped to do ecommerce, so Main&Me concentrates on local discovery as the first step in bringing shoppers back downtown.