Social apps review: commerce-led apps make a splash
As f-commerce continues to find its legs, brands are looking at other ways to capitalise on people’s addiction to their smartphones. Transactional and commerce-led apps are making increasing noise on the landscape, so here we round up three of the strongest new contenders.
So we’ve seen examples of gifting technology, then Facebook-driven collaborative gifting; now the inevitable gifting app has arrived. Swedish start-up Wrapp, recently launched in the US, is in receipt of millions of dollars in venture-capital funding and that big brand retailers are scrambling for a slice of the pie suggests this could be the next big thing in e-gifting.
The app, run on smartphones, tablets and computers, allows Facebook friends to purchase gift cards (either individually or collaboratively), which recipients store inside their mobile devices and can redeem online or in-store. The collaborative aspect is a little clumsy: only once one user has announced to their social sphere that they’ve made a purchase can others make an addition on top of the original sum (great for the recipient, of course, not so much for the givers who feel strong-armed into contributing a specific figure). Givers can also cancel their contribution at any time, providing the recipient hasn’t redeemed it (which is a pretty astute observation of the state of Facebook friendships).
So far more than 165,000 active users have given over 1.4 million gift cards in Europe. In the States the company plans to work with H&M, Gap, Sephora and Starbucks, among others. UPDATE: Wrapp’s on-the-ball UK PR team sent us a note to say that in addition to Europe, Wrapp has been in the UK since March working with ASOS, Pizza Express and other merchants. Full details are here.
Platform and developer: iOS, Android (by Wrapp)
Final word: Useful for last-minute ‘Oh-God-I-forgot-your-birthday’ scenarios, but as people remain apprehensive about f-commerce overall, this one might take a while to bed in.
Remember Tweet-a-Beer? That surprising success story was driven by Chirpify: not an app, but a platform that’s recently been given a cash injection of $1.3 million, which is adding an interesting e-commerce dynamic to Twitter. Expanded beyond physical goods, Chirpify now allows companies, artists and other creative types to sell music, writing, videos, tickets (and so on), directly to fans, via Twitter. For example, a musician is touting his latest track. After setting up Chirpify, he sends out a tweet alerting followers to the new release, they reply with the word ‘buy’ and then receive a direct message linking to the download. The platform can also be used to make donations (by replying “Donate” and the dollar amount), and payments to other users: “pay @user $XX”. Simple.
All parties involved in a transaction will have to be signed up with Chirpify and have a PayPal account, but apparently the company is working on lining up alternative payment options.
Platform and developer: N/A (by Chirpify Inc.)
Final word: Super-useful for folk on the go with no time for wallets and passwords, but again, relies on everyone being on the same page. Plus, what about security issues? Frapes are a daily occurrence, so thieves and hackers aside, if a devious friend gets hold of your Twitter account or smartphone they could cost you more than just your pride.
Hot on the heels of Barclays’ Ping It, O2 has launched its own version of a contactless money transfer app. O2 Wallet allows users to transfer up to £500 via text message, make contactless payments, load money onto the app from debit cards, keep track of their spending and, as an extra touch, compare the price of goods through a search facility. Quite a few extras over Ping It, then, but plans are afoot to tack on a 15p charge for each money message sent by text at a later date. Not a huge amount, admittedly, and compensated for by the deals and discounts the app also offers.
Platform and developer: iOS, Android, Blackberry (by O2)
Final word: With more extras and offers than other money transfer apps on the market, O2 Wallet leads the pack. But with the technology becoming increasing common, for how long?