According to Goldman Sachs, mobile commerce, or m-commerce, is projected to be a $626 billion industry by 2018.
As digital consumers are well aware, platforms like Snapchat or Instagram found their place in the growing industry when popular users began promoting certain brands or products. The setback with this model is that purchases can't always be made instantly. The ability to buy the products that audiences liked the most through their influencers was taken on by services such as LikeToKnowIt - a system that emails consumers lists of the products that appear in the photos they "like."
The obvious gap between viewing/liking the product and purchasing it often represents a significant amount of lost revenue opportunity. By the time many users receive their roundup of "liked" products (or similar next step in the process), chances are they've forgotten the initial inspiration to purchase the product already. For retailers and brands, minimizing the time between inspiration and purchase is key. This premise is primarily what led Pinterest to include their "Buy Now" option for pins.
To compete with this more efficient approach to mobile shopping, standalone mobile apps that support instant purchasing options are edging into the growing industry. Apps that follow this premise typically aim to leverage entire industries rather than supporting one company, influencer, or brand. I spoke with Brendan Eapen, CEO and co-founder of In/Spree, a mobile application that draws from various influencers to inspire consumers and sell products from a variety of brands in one place.
"When we grew our original blog to incorporate fashion, we noticed that many of our followers wanted to be able to instantly purchase what they saw in our content," says Eapen. We also noticed a need for users to shop our content as well as other fashion influencer content, all in one place." This broad approach likens the app to an alternative to Instagram, but with a sole focus on fashion. Rather than integrate with Instagram or a similar platform, In/Spree opted to create a standalone app. "...As a result, users are able to instantly purchase what they see rather than waiting for an email or other forms of communication to receive product product links," says Eapen.
"Unlike Instagram and Snapchat, we are solely dedicated to fashion. Our target audience is women ages 23-34 who are avid fashion readers, shoppers, and content consumers," Eapen explains. "We've learned that our audience is coming to discover and purchase content, and we provide the opportunity for consumers to take action on things they like. Other platforms work well for people who are looking for a specific product, but consumers come to our app to draw inspiration for how an outfit is put together."
Whether stand-alone shopping experience apps are "the new way" or simply another option for a specific type of consumer is yet to be concluded. They certainly provide a more efficient option for purchasing products than platforms that require an extra step of two in the consumer experience. On the other hand, established platforms like Instagram continue to prove the power of influencers with enormous followings.
Whether you find your next purchase on Instagram or via fashion-centric apps like In/Spree, one thing seems clear: "Shopping is becoming far more personal; people are seeking out not only fashion they like and can relate to, but also the people, stories, behind that look," says Eapen. "We're seeing a big shift with online retailers specifically creating more content and stories behind the products being sold."
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