Online shopping has brought us more choice than ever. And while it’s liberating to know you have access to almost anything, scrolling through endless pages of Net-a-Porter sales can be frustrating.
And with overwhelming choice comes indecision. That’s what Sydney-based business partners Emma Sharley and Kelly Slesser are trying to reduce in the online shopping experience with their new, free app, ShopYou. Its number one promise is “to save women time,” says Sharley. “[Through our research] we found that 80 per cent of women don't enjoy shopping, and one of the reasons is that they simply can't find what they are looking for. If you search for a 'floral dress' online, [millions] of results come up."
ShopYou works like this: first, tell the slack-bot app what styles you prefer (minimal, edgy, boho). Second, select which labels you like most (from a pool of 30 chain stores, mid-level labels and Australian designers). Then you can shop based on your needs – select “workwear”, or “sale items” for example and it will spit out a dozen results from your favourite labels. The app will continue to learn about your preferences over time. It’s a fast and made-for-mobile shopping experience.
While ShopYou isn’t the first shopping aggregator app out there, it is one of the few that brings together a high and low mix of Australian retailers. So if you shop a mix of Uniqlo, Ellery, Witchery and Cotton On, for example, you can see those options all in the one place. The app also allows you to search specific terms such as “gym shorts”, but the accuracy of what you get back can depend on how you word your search. Our search for “blue shirt” included a blue workout tank top.
“Kelly and I met through consulting in retail,” says Sharley, who was previously Westfield’s retail marketing manager. “Kelly had an idea for an app that would alleviate some of the problems we were seeing. Some of the retailers we spoke to had up to 60 per cent of their traffic coming from mobile, but the conversions were seriously low. Women just weren't buying. There was an opportunity to make the customer experience more intuitive, faster and personalised.”
In 2016 the pair pitched their idea at a workshop held by business accelerator Investible. Two years later Sharley and Slesser are aiming to raise $1.5 million in funding, which will allow the app to kick into its second phase and expand its reach overseas.
The longterm plan for ShopYou is to offer a platform for retailers to see what styles and categories are trending with customers on the app. On the customer side, ShopYou is working to bring more retailers on board – so far, there are 34, which span luxury boutique FarFetch to Cotton On. A universal-cart function is also in the works – purchases are currently made through retailer websites rather than through the app.
“The more brands they can pick from, the better,” says Sharley. “I think we’ve got a great opportunity in Australia to help women find what they’re looking for and help curate their style.”