The idea for Jifiti came about because Shaul Weisband — one of the creators of the app and company behind it — wanted to “teleport” gifts to friends. While teleportation is still not really possible, the team at Jifiti has done the next best thing and is aiming to incorporate this into a new way of shopping. And I think retailers are going to like it.
The concept behind Jifiti is quite simple; go shopping in a participating brick-and-mortar store and when you see an item you would like to purchase for someone, you scan that item’s standard retail barcode with your smartphone. Next, you pick a friend you would like to send the item to and a gift code is created and emailed to that friend so they can download the app, redeem the code and pick up that same item at a participating store near them.
For example, I want to buy my friend John Biggs a hat. But I live in Columbus, Ohio, and he lives in Brooklyn. I go shopping at a Lids store in Columbus and I see a hat that he would like. So I scan that item’s standard barcode with the Jifiti app. I select John’s email and he gets sent a redemption code. He can then download the app, go to the nearest Lids store in Brooklyn and pick up the hat I just bought for him out of the other store’s inventory.
This is an interesting way to shop for others. Browsing in a real store, the instant gratification of a physical purchasing experience and yet the item can be redeemed as soon as the redeemer wants to pick it up.
Pretty nifty…um, I mean pretty Jifiti. The app has also already caught the attention of the mobile startup accelerator here at the SXSW 2013 Interactive conference. (I love traveling across the country only to run into a startup from my own hometown of Columbus.) Jifiti also has a fairly slick website design courtesy of an agency called Longstride, which also calls Columbus home.
I should add that Jifiti is not constrained to only brick-and-mortars. You can still search for select items displayed within the app and send the redemption code that way without having to visit a physical store yourself. It’s just not a complete list of items.
Additionally, the app also has wish-list functionality, so you can broadcast the gifts you want people to buy for you as well. They are even incorporating the ability to donate gifts to charitable organizations. So really, the team at Jifiti is aiming for a fairly comprehensive retail shopping solution. It’s pretty interesting.
So why are retailers going to like this? Well, obviously there is a “drive-to-store” component to the scenario. You can browse physical store items and buy them instantly for others — capture that feeling of instant gratification. However, chances are that if you are browsing in a physical store, you might pick up something for yourself. Retailers will be fond of that.
Another thing is that the mechanics behind the system is actually based on gift cards. When you scan an item and send that item to a person, you are essentially buying a custom gift card and sending that gift card to that person. It’s just that no plastic card is ever involved. It is all worked into the app. Jifiti, buys these cards in bulk at discount and is essentially reselling them, which is how they monetize. In this way, retailers will see it as an instant purchase on their books. Pretty smart.
Also, Jifiti has developed this system without altering typical store operational procedures. Retailers don’t really have to alter point-of-sale systems or anything like that. Basically, they just have to be able to process the gift card codes. This lowers the barrier of entry for retailers to get involved.