The numbers don't lie: the future of online shopping lies in your smartphone. More and more consumers are turning to their phones to browse and make purchases: Roughly 50 percent of Modcloth's visitors access the site through their phones, for example, and 40 percent of Gilt's purchases are made on mobile devices. For many brands, mobile is just one branch of an omnichannel sales strategy that encompasses offline and desktop browsing, too.
A new multi-brand fashion marketplace launches Thursday that's making a big bet on mobile, and mobile alone. It's called Spring, and it's already signed on an impressive roster of designers to sell through its platform, including Opening Ceremony, Warby Parker, Suno, Surface to Air, Wes Gordon, Vans, Vince, Marchesa, Mary Katrantzou, Proenza Schouler, Public School, Rag & Bone... the list goes on.
It also has an impressive list of investors on board. In early July, news broke that the stealthy startup, which was born out of tech investor David Tisch's mysterious Jello Labs, had raised $7.5 million from venture capital groups and individuals like Google Ventures, SV Angel, Warby Parker's Neil Blumenthal, Ivanka Trump, Theory's Andrew Rosen and Steven Alan. Again, the list is long.
While Spring does have a landing page for desktop shoppers, it just redirects users to the App Store. Leapfrogging desktop commerce entirely may seem revolutionary, but the co-founders, which includes Tisch and his brother Alan, made that choice believing that multi-brand shopping on mobile just hasn't been done right yet. The reason that shoppers browse on mobile and buy on desktop is that checkout is so bad, says co-founder and chief marketing officer Ara Katz.
"No one wants to download 50 different sites, and nobody wants to download 50 different apps," says Ara Katz. "That's a bad experience. On a browser, it's not so bad of an experience. But what was waiting on mobile was multi-brand experiences."
Shoppers can follow different designers, which populates a feed with products from those brands that they can "love" and save to buy later, or buy directly. From the feed, people can share to the usual social suspects and every link redirects to the product page — or to the App Store if their friends don't have the app yet.
"We wanted to solve the utility of having all the brands in the same place, and we wanted to solve checkout," says Katz.
We demoed the app last week, and it's true: Purchasing is dangerously easy. Users have their credit card and shipping info pre-loaded on the app, and to buy, they simply swipe right along a bar at the bottom of the screen. Katz says they've added a bit of tension to the swipe — you have to move your finger more slowly than you do on, say, Tinder — reduce the likelihood of accidental purchases.
Having brought former Diane von Furstenberg and Shopbop execs onto its team, Spring is shooting for a mix of high/low brands as it builds out its marketplace. In addition to the Proenza Schoulers of the world, lower-priced brands like Vans and Alternative Apparel also have shops on the app. Eventually they want to integrate larger retailers like H&M and Zara, Katz says, but because those stores have built their own management systems, integration can take longer. There are some beauty brands on the app now, and Spring team is preparing for a fuller launch in that category later on.
The startup also aimed to make the onboarding process for brands ridiculously simple; according to Katz, it can happen in under an hour. Spring syncs up with the e-commerce management systems they have in place, like Shopify or Magento. Each label then decides how often they want to push out posts to users' feeds and sets its own shipping and returns policies.
That said, for many of the designers selling through Spring at launch, this is their first foray into e-commerce, period. Spring has a partnership with the CFDA, allowing it to bring on board incubator designers like Kaelen and Misha Nonoo. Thakoon, which has been around since 2004, is another e-comm first-timer. According to Katz, a number of those brands have put their desktop e-commerce plans on hold until after Spring launches, and will be using the data they get from the app to guide those initiatives.