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[App Fridays] ShoppingPost wants to be the Instagram of social shopping, but can it step up?

Sohini Mitter
25th May 2018
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This homegrown social shopping network aims to reach a million users by 2019. While the idea is good, the app on offer has a long way to go.

Do you ever feel the urge to share your shopping stories — from what you bought to what you thought — on social media? Do you also wonder if that would amount to spamming the timelines of your friends/followers? If yes, you are tailored to be on a specialised social shopping network.

‘Social shopping’ despite being an important subset of retail ecommerce hasn’t gained large-scale traction because consumers tend to overshare on general social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

But, that is changing as more and more app-makers recognise the critical intersection between shopping and social media, where serious shoppers want to discover products, read product reviews, talk about their purchases, and reach out to like-minded shoppers without having to spam their general network contacts.

ShoppingPost is an Android-only app for now.

ShoppingPost is one such platform that is dedicated to user-generated content around shopping. Its etymology gives away what it stands for. ‘Shopping’ and ‘posting’ come together to form this social shopping network.

Started by serial entrepreneurs Manas Usharia and Shantanu Gaur in 2016, ShoppingPost has notched up over 200,000 installs on Google Play Store. Shoppers have shared over 100,000 posts on the platform, and 500-600 posts are recorded every day. It goes up to a 1,000 posts per day on days of big online sales.

ShoppingPost has an ambitious target of reaching a million users by 2019. It is attracting new users through strong word-of-mouth and by offering coupons and rewards on sign-ups. Advertising on Google, Facebook and Instagram has also led to new installs, the founders reveal.

They tell YourStory, “what Instagram is doing for photos and YouTube is doing for videos, we are doing for shopping.” Or, rather that is where they want to be.

Shantanu explains,

“The idea was to connect shoppers on a single platform where there is a feedback mechanism. What if people who shop daily start sharing that data with their friends, families and colleagues on a platform? Then, others can refer to that before they make a purchase decision.” 

The process is simple: if you have made a purchase, go on the app, select the store you have purchased from, and share the product you bought. In order to verify your post, you can upload the product invoice. Users can also add a brief review or rating of the product. All posts appear on a timeline format a la Instagram.

At present, ShoppingPost’s affiliates include e-retailers such as Flipkart, Amazon, Myntra, Jabong, etc. Talks are on with the likes of Paytm Mall and Nykaa, as well as offline retailers like Shoppers Stop. All their product APIs are integrated into ShoppingPost that makes it easier for it to track and verify user purchases.

YourStory takes a close look at the app.

The app asks you to sign up with an email id or mobile number. You can ‘continue as guest’ but that doesn’t allow you to explore all the features. We discovered that the email signup happened quicker than the mobile number one.

As soon as you sign up, the app notifies you that your rewards are ready to be claimed. But, rewards can be claimed only after you post a product. The reward incentive increases engagement on the platform.

Right at the outset, you can narrow down your product discovery by applying category filters. Product updates can be sorted according to categories, website, gender, etc. This helps the app curate a more relevant timeline for you.

The homepage is divided into three sections - Friends, Window Shopping and Explore. ‘Friends’ are not really friends or contacts but handles you can follow on the platform. These are a bit like Twitter’s ‘who to follow’ suggestions.

You can scroll through ‘featured posts’ on your timeline, hit like, add a comment, and share post via WhatsApp. All product prices are prominently displayed.

Users can click on ‘New Pinch’ to pinch their friends on their new purchase. This is reminiscent of Facebook’s ‘Poke’ feature and is aimed to make users communicate and socialise more.

The ‘Window Shopping’ section features videos and posts from cross-category influencers. You can explore video blogs and YouTube videos, hit like, and share them across social media platforms from within the ShoppingPost app. Posts in this section are largely focused on tech and fashion.

The ‘Explore’ tab is essentially a product directory linked to the third-party ecommerce platform from which users can buy. 

Users can read product description, request a review, and add a comment. ShoppingPost earns a flat fee on every purchase made via its platform on the ecommerce website.

The bottom bar of the app imitates that of Instagram. It includes Home, Search, Post, Notifications, and Profile icons.

ShoppingPost founder Manas claims,

“The Instagram-like design is intentional because it helps in the onboarding of users. They are already familiar with the icons and it helps them understand what they should be looking for.”

On their individual profile pages, users can create a wishlist, track verified posts, and keep an account of pending purchases.

The pros and cons

ShoppingPost is a fine idea and one that can be scaled up to create a specialised, vertical-led social network as opposed to general ones. But the platform needs some fine-tuning before that can happen.

There needs to be an equal amount of focus on all product categories. At present, the amount of tech posts on the platform is overwhelming. That explains ShoppingPost’s 75-80 percent male user base. Fashion and beauty is the next somewhat-big category, which attracts a few women. But, all other categories are nearly non-existent.

The Filter Search feature is broken. Say you select ‘Bag and Luggage’ as a category filter, you are still taken to a homepage that displays only tech and beauty products.

That ShoppingPost makes it mandatory to share email/mobile number to log in might turn off privacy-conscious users. There could be an option where passive users (who only want to search and discover products) are allowed to explore the app without having to log in. While active users (who want to post updates and create content) can do so at will. This flexibility is missing for now.

It’s still early days for ShoppingPost — and social shopping in general — and things could look up eventually. They ought to because getting to one million users by 2019 is no mean task.

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