Online dating and online shopping have a lot in common. The options are nearly endless, and it’s tough to find the good ones. Which makes it unsurprising that Tinder, one of the most successful online dating apps, has inspired the user interface (UI) for Stylect, a new shoe-shopping app.
So yes, swipe right if you think a shoe is hot and left if it’s not. The app learns your taste and personal style so you can settle on a pair that's right. Stylect is the newest of the many apps that borrow the left-right swipe UI. It aggregates more than 50,000 products from e-commerce sites, and whenever you make a purchase through the app, the startup gets a kickback. You can also keep your favorites on a wishlist, and the app alerts you when it goes on sale.
"When Tinder came along, we thought that applying its addictive UX to mobile e-commerce, and to shoes in particular, could allow for a disruptive way to discover products on mobile," Giacomo Summa, co-founder of Stylect, tells Co.Design. So far, the company has raised more than $538,000 in a seed round led by London’s Forward Partners.
Summa became interest in the shoe business while working as a director at Rocket Internet-funded Dafiti, a Brazilian fashion e-commerce site that grew extremely fast—and which started by selling women shoes. "I was very intrigued at how much passion there was for shoes. That planted the idea to eventually do something in the space," Summa says. After moving to London to work for the startup accelerator TechStars, he met co-founder Hadi Laasi, a hackstar (a "brilliant developer, a great designer, a UX star"), and the pair began brainstorming. They wanted to start a mobile venture. After testing a prototype (which is still live), the pair joined Oxygen (also an accelerator) in October 2013, found their third co-founder (Darius, a iOS developer from Lithuania), and launched version one of their iOS app.
What makes the swipe-left, swipe-right interface so applicable to the world of e-commerce? "Two things are particularly great about the Tinder-like swiping interface," Summa says. "First, it is incredibly addictive." He backs this up with numbers from testing the app’s prototype: Testers were swiping more than 44 shoes, on average. "Second, more importantly, it provides us with binary data that we can use to recommend better and better shoes to our users."
The app’s recommendation abilities are based on a complex algorithm called social clustering. To put it simply, if you like shoes A, B, and C, and someone else on Stylect also liked shoes A, B, and C plus shoe D, Stylect can recommend you shoe D.
If you're a Carrie Bradshaw type, this app might be dangerous.