Shopular raises $6.4M led by Sequoia for real-time mobile deals

Plenty of apps, from big retailers and small upstarts alike, want to turn your smartphone into a money-saver at the mall. But often the problem is remembering that the apps even exist once you set foot into the store.

Last December, Y Combinator-backed Shopular launched a mobile app that runs in the background to monitor a consumer’s location and then automatically generates valid and place-appropriate coupons. On Thursday, the company said it had raised $6.4 million in a Series A round, led by Sequoia Capital. As part of the deal, Sequoia’s Tim Lee will join the company’s board of directors.

With the funding, co-founder Navneet Loiwal said the company plans to expand its four-person team, which includes former Google (s GOOG) and Shopkick employees, and invest in marketing.

For consumers, the app offers a no-hassle way to find lower prices on in-store items, but it also has some big upsides for retailers. Especially given the rise of “showrooming” (when consumers merely browse for items at a store, check for cheaper prices from their phones and then ultimately make a purchase online), retailers are on the lookout for ways to keep in-store shoppers engaged.

shopular_notification_blackThrough location-based alerts, startups like Shopular, as well as Shopkick and Placecast’s ShopAlerts, aim to help retailers and brands keep shopping behavior in-store.  By monitoring consumers’ locations (through GPS, WiFi and cellular sensors) Shopular is also able to learn more about consumers’ shopping behavior.

When it launched in December, the startup said its app served up coupons at about 1,000 malls across the country. Now, Loiwal said, the app covers about 40,000 locations (malls and individual stores), including big-box chains like Macy’s, Kohl’s, Forever 21 and the Gap.

Unfortunately, the startup declined to share any metrics showing adoption or engagement, saying only that Sequoia’s investment is validation of Shopular’s acceptance among users.

“It’s a ‘set it and forget it’ experience. That means our attention and retention is at a different level,” said Loiwal. He added that the company may release some numbers later this year, so hopefully we’ll learn more then.