The likes of Amazon, eBay and bespoke apps for shopping giants are certainly functionally sound, but a bit impersonal. Here are some apps that allow merchants a more direct connection with consumers.
E-commerce on mobile devices, or m-commerce, shows no signs of slowing down. By 2020, m-commerce will account for 45% of all e-commerce; no wonder consumers are bombarded with retail options in this space.
There are established giants – Facebook, Amazon, eBay – and bespoke apps for retail outlets are springing up like mushrooms. To truly stand out, developers have turned to aspects of social media to give the m-commerce experience between consumers and merchants a more intimate feel. Here are some of the better examples available in this space:
This recently launched app is a boon for consumers and merchants alike. It essentially allows anyone offering services or goods to set up their storefront in the app for free and connects them to consumers through chat.
Chat Find detects the user’s location and then populates their feed with posts from merchant users within a 24-km radius. Customers then have the option of making a purchase through the app, or physically travel to the outlet to see the goods in person. What makes Chat Find special is that customers and merchants can chat in-app or email one another, establishing a friendly relationship before the former opens their wallet. It allows businesses to establish a community and run promotions in the app for free.
Founded in India, where WhatsApp is used by over 100 million people, Lookup is an e-commerce app aimed at taking the local population’s affinity for OTT mobile chat and pointing them in the direction of merchants and services.
Unlike online stores like Amazon or eBay, Lookup doesn’t offer integrated payment systems or lists of products. Instead, it uses chat to put consumers in touch with a directory of stores that can let them know if the service they require or the items they’re after are available. Users simply login, conduct a search and Lookup allows them to check out where nearest store, hotel or tradesman they require is. Once the merchant connects, the pair can conduct business. Users send a request to the merchant, who will confirm the order and the payment. The product will Then get delivered to user’s doorstep in minutes.
“It is our goal to connect you to local stores closest to you to get you what you need in minutes.”
Essentially, Spring is a photo-feed that showcases products for purchase, with a moderated community of brands plugged into it that includes established labels alongside budding creators.
The only downside is that Spring doesn’t have a shopping cart with which users can load up on whatever takes their fancy. Instead, once they’ve filled out your payment and shipping information, customers swipe under an item to make their purchase. That having been said, once a purchase has been made, consumers can sign up for push notifications from the seller they bought from. In a way, they create their own bespoke shopping storefront.
Wanelo is an online storefront where users can find 550.000 stores which include big brands and tiny boutiques. In order to make the best use of it, consumers have to take a vested interest in interacting with the app; the more products and brands they subscribe to, the better a picture Wanelo can build of them in terms of their tastes and desires.
The way this differs from ‘liking’ purchases on other sites – such as Amazon, for example – is that Wanelo offers users the functionality to create collections of interests from both labels and brands offered within the app and from third-party sites too.
Ever seen a picture of an item in a magazine or online but you can’t for the life of you find it anywhere? The Hunt offers a reminder that if you can’t find what you’re after, someone, somewhere can.
This handy app plugs consumers into a community that help them track down items. Simply snap a picture of the product in question and The Hunt’s user base will sniff it out for you. This is more of a community-based app than a business affair, but merchants have been known to use it too. The Hunt’s community can help in not only finding an item but also give advice about outfit and trends.