Over the past several years, e-commerce startup Mulu has built a backend technology that allows publishers to instantly embed shoppable items in their web pages. But now the company is introducing a new mobile app called “The Latest,” which targets consumers by connecting them with products mentioned by their favorite publications and tastemakers.
When you sign up, the app asks you to select a few topics, allowing you to choose between categories like Style, Gadgets, Body, and Home. Doing so subscribes you to a feed of content from publications in each of those verticals: If you follow Gadgets, for instance, you’ll see content from Wired and Mashable; at Home you’ll see stuff from Apartment Therapy.
What the app enables you to do is shop items that have been shared by those publications. So for instance, you can check out Wired’s article “Here’s The Gear We Couldn’t Live Without” and buy those gadgets directly from the app. Same for Cosmo’s “Six Kinds of Underwear Every Woman Should Own” or Maxim’s “The 5 Coolest Lasers You Can Actually Buy.”
In addition to making purchases, users can also favorite items in the app to save for later, or share them with friends. Mulu hooks into Facebook, Twitter, email, and SMS to enable that.
The latest app works with the help of Mulu’s existing backend technology. It crawls the web like a search engine, recognizes and categorizes the 400 million products mentioned in news publications, blogs, and other places online. It then finds items mentioned through a wide variety of online retailers like Amazon, Overstock, and Target, among others, to enable instant commerce with the best available price.
For publishers, it enables a new revenue stream, while retailers can use its data to better predict demand, while also boosting conversions.
All of this is something Mulu has been doing for a while, as it’s provided a widget for publishers to embed instantly shoppable items on their own sites. But that was a business-to-business play, with Mulu just providing the enabling technology. This is its first real consumer-facing application.
For Mulu it provides just one more hook into mobile commerce, and it could provide the same type of technology to its publishing partners that they could use in their own apps.