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Mobile marketing firm Swirl raises $8m

Swirl Networks Inc., a Boston-based technology provider that enables retailers to customize mobile apps so they can ping shoppers with smartphone marketing messages and discounts while they’re in stores, said Tuesday that it has closed an $8 million investment round led by Hearst Ventures, a unit of Hearst Corp.

The round includes repeat investments from SoftBank Capital, a unit of SoftBank Corp., and Longworth Venture Partners.

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The plan is to use the financing  to fuel the expansion of Swirl’s technology platform into the large-scale, multicategory retail market. Retailers currently test-piloting the Swirl platform include Timberland, Kenneth Cole, and Alex and Ani, the company said.

According to Swirl, its platform is ideal for combatting “showrooming,” a term that describes the behavior of shoppers who check out products at brick-and-mortar stores, then buy them later online.

Swirl’s platform uses indoor positioning technology in an effort to persuade shoppers to buy items at brick-and-mortar stores.

By combining micro-location sensing with a retailer’s mobile app, Swirl’s platform makes it possible to “deliver personalized and contextual offers, recommendations, and content to shoppers’ smartphones while they browse specific areas within a store,” Swirl’s press release said.

The press release included a statement from Scott English, managing director of Hearst Ventures.

“We invested in Swirl because the company is a leader and innovator in mobile marketing and retail engagement, which is the last frontier in influencing buying behavior,” English said.

“Many of our advertisers and partners are looking for new and effective ways to deliver personalized messages to consumers at the moment of purchase and nobody does that better than Swirl.”

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.
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