Swipe right if you like. Swipe left if you don’t. Mallzee, a ‘personal shopper’ for iOS, has a Tinder-esque UI, underpinned by its own recommendation engine, to make clothes shopping simple, efficient and fun.
But it also has a clever social twist. The app lets you share the item you intend to buy with friends. If the consensus is a thumbs-down, Mallzee will actually prohibit you from making a purchase — the buy button becomes disabled — helping to avoid any potential fashion faux pas.
Initially targeting the UK and Ireland, the app’s database lets you search 2 million products from around 200 major brand fashion retailers, such as ASOS, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21. You start off by selecting the category of clothing you’re interested in purchasing, and specify things like colour, price range and originating store. Then the right swipe, left swipe modus operandi kicks in, helping Mallzee create what it calls your “style-graph”.
Find an item of clothing you like? It’s at this point that you get to solicit feedback from friends and the gamification begins. As Mallzee founder and CEO Cally Russell explains, “if your friends vote an item down then we block the buy button so you can’t buy it. You can, though, chat to them and try to convince them to change their vote. If it’s a draw we’ll still let you buy.”
It’s also a feature that Russell says the UK startup has been internally calling its “boyfriend feature”. “It’s a way for people’s girlfriends to stop them buying awful clothes,” he adds.
As stereotypical (and, perhaps, unfortunate) as that use-case example may be, the app’s social angle is certainly noteworthy since nobody has really nailed the social shopping experience online.
“We don’t think social is about following people you don’t know, sharing with thousands of people or pinning your aspirations,” says Russell. “To us social is about enabling people to have meaningful conversations with the people that matter. That’s why our users can share clothes only with friends using the app and have conversations with people they know. If those friends vote that you shouldn’t buy something then you can’t!”
In other words, Mallzee could be about to conjure up the fashion police in all of us. However, each time you are allowed to push the buy button, the startup will also get paid. It earns affiliate revenue generated from each purchase.