Authentic Business Initiatives, whose Checkmate Experience app helps shoppers enjoy a better retail experience, has launched its minimum viable product and is inviting Nova Scotian retailers to try it free for six months.

Checkmate allows shoppers to communicate with local retailers and even to book times to visit the store. Shoppers can use an iOS or Android mobile app to let retailers know what they’re after and why so the shop-owners can prepare for their visit. Retailers can use a web-based platform to analyze the shoppers’ tastes and requests and book a time for them to visit the store.

The idea is that retailers who understand specifically what a shopper is looking for can prepare for the visit, set aside some samples in the shopper’s size, and better meet their needs. Shoppers have less hassle and are more likely to find what they want.

“If you’re going into the store and the retailer has things ready and you leave the store happy, it would be good for both the store and the customer,” said President and CEO Sue Stanfield in an interview.

Stanfield came up with the idea for the app from her own experience in the retail trade. She owns four retail locations, including the Trail Shop in Halifax and Take It Outside in Dartmouth. She wanted to come up with a way to help retailers understand what customers are looking for even before they entered the store.

She began to work on the product and was ready to launch it early this year, then the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.  As stores began to open up in the summer, Stanfield realized that Checkmate could also help shoppers to stay safe during the pandemic. By booking appointments, shoppers wouldn’t have to wait in line to get into their favourite stores.

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Checkmate is now available to consumers on the App Store and Google Play. Stanfield’s four brick-and-mortar stores are using the platform and she is offering it free for six months to Nova Scotian retailers, as long as they sign up by the end of the year.

“December is a critical month for retail, and we are ready to provide all retailers across Nova Scotia with The Checkmate Experience to offer their existing customers and new shoppers a safe, efficient way to plan, book and personalize their next in-store shopping trip,” she said.

Stanfield has now hired someone to oversee her retail stores and has devoted herself fulltime to growing Checkmate. She was one of the winners in the recent Spark Nova Scotia competition, capturing $35,000.

She is now focusing on the Nova Scotian market but believes Checkmate can help shoppers and retailers in other parts of the country and in segments of the retail sector other than clothing.

“I hope to roll it out locally first and then get into other markets,” said Stanfield “I see it being the standard for customer service. Right now, we have it set up for apparel but I could see it being used for home improvement and others.”