The advent of sample and flash sales flooding the e-commerce scene is forcing brands to get creative when it comes to driving traffic toward actual stores.

This story first appeared in the June 29, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Enter iPhone application Lustr. “When the recession hit, combined with the popularity of flash sales, it became a challenge to physically get shoppers inside of a retailer and purchasing,” said Gary Ragusa, founder and chief executive officer of the new location-based app.

Lustr officially launched today after nearly five months in the beta stage, and uses personalized technology to drive traffic to stores, as well as strengthen the communication between shopper and retailer.

With a database of nearly 2,000 stores and 3,500 brands in the New York City area (more locations will roll out in coming months), the application has specialized features to personalize the user’s shopping experience — from selecting favorite labels, stores and neighborhoods to building shopping itineraries — and aims to bring the convenience that online shopping has to offer to the real world.

How Lustr works is, if a user is walking up Fifth Avenue on a Saturday afternoon and there happens to be a promotion — including anything from a trunk show, a sample sale, an in-store event or even a less-publicized whisper sale — at one of the stores she’s previously programmed as one of her favorites, she’ll get a notification. “It won’t get lost in a spam box or in the ton of daily e-mails you get each morning,” said Ragusa of the notifications users get in real time as they physically approach a retailer, increasing the chances of the consumer physically setting foot in the store.

But where it gets even more personalized, he explained, is that users have the option to select the point at which they receive notifications by radius — for some this might be five blocks from the store and for others it might be half a mile.

“Unless you walk straight in front of a store, you have no way of knowing what that store has to offer, as far as product and sale. Sure you may know the brand but you don’t know what you have new that day. That’s where Lustr comes in,” said Ragusa.

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