4 Tools to Track Sales Online

Numerous startups are all targeting the same problem -- alerting shoppers to sales on clothing they like -- and they take slightly different approaches. Here's the lowdown.
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Eliza Brooke
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Numerous startups are all targeting the same problem -- alerting shoppers to sales on clothing they like -- and they take slightly different approaches. Here's the lowdown.
Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

While flash sales sites like Gilt Groupe have built their user base on the adrenaline of an amazing, unexpected discount, sometimes what you really want is a tool to tell you when an item you actually want has gone on sale. Fortunately, more and more startups are working to facilitate that, one of the best-known examples being Hukkster.

The latest to launch is Shoptagr (pronounced: "Shop tagger"), which went live Tuesday. While not a flat-out copycat, the combination of its user experience and initial features make it eerily similar to Hukkster's product. So let's take a look through the landscape of sales alert tools to parse who's doing what.

Hukkster

Those deep into online shopping (no judgment) are likely familiar with Hukkster at this point, since the startup launched in 2012 and has raised $4.5 million in venture capital funding to date. For those who haven't used it, Hukkster functions as a bookmarklet that sits in your browser; every time you happen upon a product that you're interested in tracking, you click the "Hukk It" button and input your size, color preference and the markdown at which you want to receive an alert (say, 25 or 50 percent).

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Hukkster sends you an email alert if an item you've "hukked" goes on sale, and also informs you about coupon codes and special offers. The reason for this, co-founder Erica Bell explains, is that coupon codes account for about 70 percent of discounts online, meaning shoppers are missing out on sales opportunities by waiting until the item itself goes on sale.

Hukkster currently only tracks prices listed in U.S. dollars, but there are plans in the works to expand internationally.

Lyst

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The design of Shoptagr's interface is probably a little too close to Hukkster's for comfort. But there are a few points of difference. Shoptagr supports multiple currencies right out of the gate; the startup is based between Copenhagen, Tel Aviv and London, with plans to open offices in the UK soon. Out of deference to Hukkster's primacy in the U.S., it's targeting the European market, co-founder Jonathan Friedman says.

Shoptagr also uses a crawling engine, rather than aggregating retailers' feeds (as Lyst does), which means that it can track price changes in real-time. Friedman says that this also results in faster loading times relative to sites like Hukkster. I've used both tools on the same products, however, and haven't seen a noticeable speed difference.

Shoptagr is currently at work on a feature that, like Lyst, will enable it to track products across multiple sites. The company has a number of features in the pipeline, Friedman says, which is probably a good thing. It's going to need more differentiation to set it apart from the pack, at least in the U.S. market.

Nifti

While not specific to fashion, Nifti can work for as a sales tracker for shoes as well as couches.

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The cool thing about Nifti, which launched last July and raised a seed round from investors like Google Ventures, is that it has more of a sliding scale for its sales alerts: Users can input any dollar amount that they want to hit, and it will accommodate that. It also has a price chart option that shows the item's trajectory over time -- which is cool if you want to get into the nitty gritty of your shopping behavior.

The downside is that sizing isn't so clear -- again, it wasn't built for fashion specifically -- meaning that those beloved Charlotte Olympia flats you're tracking won't necessarily still be available in your size when the price drops to your threshold. And that would be a bummer (to put it lightly).

The winner? For its sophistication and ability to track products on multiple sites -- removing the heavy lifting that Hukkster requires -- Lyst comes out on top. But it's worth taking a look at all of them to figure out what's best for your sales hunting needs. After all, the slight discrepancies in the tools' features make all the difference.

Note: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Hukkster has raised $4.5 million in funding, not $3 million.