The retailing market has undergone a paradigm-shift in the last decades, departing from its traditional form of shopping in brick-and-mortar stores towards online shopping and the establishment of shopping malls. As a result, "small" independent retailers operating in urban environments have suffered a substantial reduction of their turnover. This situation could be presumably reversed if retailers were to establish business "alliances" targeting economies of scale and engage themselves in providing innovative digital services. The SMARTBUY ecosystem realizes the concept of a "distributed shopping mall", which allows retailers to join forces and unite in a large commercial coalition that generates added value for both retailers and customers. Along this line, the SMARTBUY ecosystem offers several novel features: (i) inventory management of centralized products and services, (ii) geo-located marketing of products and services, (iii) location-based search for products offered by neighboring retailers, and (iv) personalized recommendations for purchasing products derived by an innovative recommendation system. SMARTBUY materializes a blended retailing paradigm which combines the benefits of online shopping with the attractiveness of traditional shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. This article provides an overview of the main architectural components and functional aspects of the SMARTBUY ecosystem. Then, it reports the main findings derived from a 12 months-long pilot execution of SMARTBUY across four European cities and discusses the key technology acceptance factors when deploying alike business alliances.
Keywords: Context awareness; Ecosystem; Geo-located marketing; Inventory management; Location-based search; Recommendation; Retailer; Shopping mall; Smart cities; Smart retailing; e-Commerce.
© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH, DE part of Springer Nature 2021.