Field Agent, an enabler of mobile crowdsourced solutions, has unveiled Jicco, a new search engine designed to give retail professionals "instant answers to pressing retail questions" by providing them with crowdsourced data and relevant photos.
Jicco, now in beta, has been in the works for seven years, Field Agent said, with the intent to change how companies obtain real-time answers about store-level promotions, pricing, on-shelf availability, competitive activity and shopper sentiment.
A Field Agent press release stated that users can go to gojicco.com, “type in a basic question about in-store conditions, and, within minutes, watch as photos, information, and shopper feedback begin streaming in from stores.” Sample questions include "What's the price of store-brand toothpaste at Kroger?" and "What signage stands out most in the baby products aisle at Target?"
The data and images retailer users will find at gojicco.com come from a contributor base of more than 1 million freelancers who go around collecting information and snapping photos on a wide variety of topics. So, essentially, Field Agent is putting a search engine interface on the type of crowdsourced information it already offers in the form of a mobile app.
"Professionals across the retail and branded goods industry are strapped for time and under considerable pressure to have all the answers," said Rick West, CEO and co-founder of Field Agent, in a press release. "We've merged our efficient mobile crowdsourcing system with a simple search engine interface to create the world's fastest way to get real answers from the field."
West is right about the challenges facing many retail professionals, and as these folks jump between projects and try to keep all of their plates spinning, having fingertip access to some relevant data certainly will help them. Why shouldn't retailers get a curated portion of the internet all their own, right? Jicco should even help retail people who aren't necessarily in such a frantic rush, and just want to see what other retailers are doing about a particular business, marketing or technology matter, perhaps as they prepare a pitch or presentation on a certain topic for their corporate leaders, partners or customer groups.
Retailers shouldn't really expect gojicco.com to be like Google for the retail industry (though we're wondering why and how Field Agent resisted making that statement itself). For one, Jicco is not necessarily going to deliver every bit of relevant data out there on a specific query — just what Field Agent has, though what it possesses has always been pretty retail-relevant.
Also, "within minutes" response time would have killed Google or any other internet search engine in its infancy. Yet, for access to specialized, focused and relevant data on a retail-specific topic, the timing should be fine — as long as you're not in too much of a hurry.