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Shopping Inspiration Apps – Hot, Happening, and Oh-So-Cool

Last week, we looked at how shopping is enabled on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Today, we will look at the social shopping sites and apps that are being built solely to provide rich shopping experiences. What differentiates these from more traditional e-commerce sites is crowd-sourced content, peer engagement, participative nature, and a fun image-centric interface that provides both inspiration and aspiration.

wanelo

Image Source: www.recode.net

Wanelo is one of the pioneers in this space. It was launched in 2012 by Deena Varshavskaya who wanted to find a way for people to share their style inspiration, and make it easier for shoppers to find interesting products and buy them in a fluid manner. Its clean, tile-based Pinterest-like design is both fun as well as functional. Users add products that they like, and also like products that others have shared. Deena says that Wanelo is for shopping what Facebook is for people and what LinkedIn is for jobs. With a simple tagline – “Find Amazing Products”, Wanelo places their value proposition upfront. It’s not just about being on a shopping portal and looking for things on your list. It’s about enjoying the experience and discovering products that you Want.Need.Love.

The next step for Wanelo is to ensure that shoppers never have to leave the app to complete a purchase. A recent Re/code article says that Wanelo is testing checkout processes within the app with the ultimate of goal of making it completely effortless. How convenient to be able to buy from several different brands with just one click!

 

Image Source: www.keep.com

Image Source: www.keep.com

Keep.com also offers a similar interface for discovering trends in fashion, décor, accessories, and design. Users get to see what products are trending, what other people are “liking” and “keeping”, etc. Keep’s claim to fame is a universal shopping cart for the web. You can buy items as diverse as a couch, a nail polish, and a screwdriver from different brands with just one click. Imagine not having to enter your credit card information over and over again. Like Wanelo, Keep has a curated storefront composed of user-generated content. As of now, their buying mechanism is manual wherein their employees place the actual orders. But the experience for the user is pure delight!

Image Source: www.nytimes.com

Image Source: www.nytimes.com

Another exciting new player in this space is Spring, an e-commerce startup from New York. Their model is slightly different from that of Wanelo and Keep, in that it is not social. Once a user signs up, they are provided with a range of products from Spring’s retail partners like Michael Kors and Nicole Miller. The interface is a vibrant, visual, Instagram-style layout. And the clincher? No shopping cart! All that users have to do is swipe on an item they like and they are done. The respective brand completes the transaction on their behalf. Spring provides brands with analytics on how their products are doings so the brand can improve their assortment. However, since this is not user-generated content, how well a brand does depends on the quality of the feed that they provide Spring.

What are some of the commonalities between these services?

  • They are developed around a primarily superior mobile experience. With the growing adoption of smartphones and how they have become an extension of our bodies, mobile commerce is the playground of the future.
  • There is an increased emphasis on easy checkout processes. One of the biggest gripes for online businesses is abandoned shopping carts. All the above services focus on having a simple and effortless checkout process especially when it is to be completed on the small smartphone screen.
  • Businesses have a huge growth opportunity here. If they keep their product information, assortment, pricing, and availability optimized at all times, they will be able to stow away their abandoned cart troubles, and also learn more about what sells and what doesn’t.
  • They use an affiliate marketing business model while creating a whole new shopping channel.
  • They save users the effort of having to download different apps for different brands.
  • Lastly, it’s the fun experience itself. It’s like being in a shopping mall but with many more brands and a much larger assortment. The social aspect of the experience also replicates the physical process in that it lets you save products, ask your friends for recommendations, etc.

Apps and services that provide these experiences are shaping the future. Social networks like Pinterest and Instagram are trying to make their portals more shopping-friendly, but that’s not their primary reason for being. People use social shopping sites because they want to buy or be inspired to buy. They are enabling pervasive commerce by letting brands and retailers reach consumers through infinite channels, and they are providing consumers with product-aware experiences that delight and exceed their expectations. They truly are the cat’s meow! Do you have any exciting shopping experiences to share today?

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