Apps may be better suited to a more personalized shopping experience than e-commerce sites, reports Alexa Brazilian in The Wall Street Journal (3/15/14). That’s the thinking behind House Account, a shopping app that "teleports users inside the doors of more than 370 independent boutiques" both in the US and abroad. With e-commerce, the "personal connection just wasn’t there," says House Account co-creator Laura Vinroot Poole, who is also founder of Capitol, a Charlotte NC boutique with a cult following.
The idea is to give users the opportunity to visit faraway boutiques, reserve an item at a local shop, and chat with store owners and personnel. Basically, users choose which stores to follow, and then "scroll through a feed of informal pictures — everything from straight product shots to playful pics of store staffers modeling ensembles." Live chat enables questions and conversations about featured items, which typically are displayed without price tags. Users can search by designer and trends, and also pre-order items.
House Account is free. So far, it has been downloaded by "more than 20,000 users, and now averages 10 new stores a week," each of which pays "a monthly membership fee of $100." The app also provides retailers with "access to valuable data: top shoppers, which images had the most views and likes, and how a shop’s follower-count stacks up against a competitor." "It’s an excellent way to increase volume while minimizing risk," says accessory-maker Meredith German. "You have feedback from the customer before you produce."