Wikets, a social commerce app that has raised $1.5 million from investors including Andreessen Horowitz and Battery Ventures, launched its app last November. But, at the time, even though the ultimate plan was to create a one-stop shopping app that blended the ease of Amazon with a social network, the startup focused on building a user base of shoppers inclined to make and ask for product recommendations.
Several hundred thousand users and more than three million recommendations later, the company on Thursday is releasing a new version of the app that builds out search and purchasing features to emphasize shopping.
“We’re making the transition to becoming a more shopping-oriented app,” said CEO Andy Park. “We’ve really emphasized the recommendations and rewards and now we’re making it much easier to shop from the app.”
From the new app, users will be able to search product databases from more than 80 retailers, including Best Buy, Home Depot and Etsy, as well browse trending recommendations from each category and purchase items directly from recommendations. Consumers were able to purchase from the earlier app but the transaction functionality was more limited.
Increasingly, retailers are providing mobile apps that let consumers search for and purchase products on the go, but Wikets’ bet is that it can get ahead by offering not just a shopping platform but a crowd-based recommendation engine.
Through its so-called “wikets” – requests for product ideas and suggestions – Park said the startup has built a community of consumers who shop frequently, but also enjoy sharing information on recent purchases and discoveries with others. As members make and follow recommendations, they earn points on the platform, which they can later redeem for gift cards.
The company takes affiliate fees from the sales, but Park said it all goes back to consumers in the form of the reward points. Down the line, to make money, the company could work with retailers to serve up real-time, location-based offers or target consumers in other ways.
It’s an interesting idea and, it’s apparently gaining traction – the company said transactions are doubling every month. But as more retailers build out their own mobile apps and different takes on the mobile wallets further simplify in-store and online shopping, Wikets will only face increasing competition.