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Sydney-based Lasoo.com.au claims it’s the first Australian outfit to launch a retail application for the Apple iPad, even though the tablet device won’t reach Australian markets until May.

The web company – part of the Salmat group that specialises in distributing retailer promotional material, mainly catalogues – has imported several iPads to help develop and promote its new app, which will be free.

The iPad app – demonstrated to CDN yesterday in what was our first actual touch of an iPad – will allow Australian users to search for products from dozens of Down Under retailers. They include major chains such as Target, Big W, Coles, Dick Smith, Myer, Toys R Us, Aldi, Officeworks, Repco and Ikea – even Harvey Norman, despite Gerry Harvey’s well-known disdain for online marketing.

Users can browse the catalogues on the high-res, 9.7-inch, backlit, iPad LCD colour screen, and compare products, availability and prices.

If they decide on a product, the iPad’s integrated GPS helps with directions to the closest outlet, along with a map, contact details and opening hours.

Salmat set up Lasoo seven years ago. It has a website and an iPhone app, administered by a team of 22 in the Philippines (where Salmat is an operation) and seven in Sydney.

The website scores 1.1 to 1.2 million visits a month and more page views than any other shopping site, according to Lasoo MD, Paul Marshall. Interestingly, only about five percent of those who go on to buy do so online – the other 95 percent still head off to the store for the actual purchase.

 

Retailers currently pay for the listings; Marshall aims to change that to a performance-based operation, with payments for each interaction.

Future plans include extending to other platforms like Android mobiles, but Marshall is convinced that for the moment,  the iPad is the ideal form factor for browser-based shopping.

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