Shopping apps. What are they good for? Not much, if you ask me. While dozens of apps have emerged over the past five years promising many things, few—if any—have actually changed my life. I use Shop it to Me for sale alerts and Amazon to purchase sundries such as vitamins and puppy pee pads. And that’s it. Out of the dozens of shopping apps that I’ve downloaded to my iPhone, those are the only two that I open on the regular.
Why is that, do you think? For one, I have enough non-shopping related apps to keep me occupied. But more significantly, few shopping apps are really that useful or easy to use. And they’re definitely not fun. If there was a shopping app that actually made me want to go shopping, then I’d be interested.
Well, today seems to be my day. And yours, too, if you download Spring, a new app that aims to make it simple—and more importantly, joyful—to shop from your phone. The fashion world has been buzzing about Spring’s launch for some time now, mostly because there are a lot of cool people involved—the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) was an early supporter—but also because it recently closed a round of funding equaling $7.5 million. (LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault is an investor.) So why do you need Spring so badly, other than because I said so? Here goes:
What is Spring? A marketplace for brands in the women’s, men’s, beauty, and lifestyle categories. Spring is launching with 100 brand shops, but will open 450 by the end of the year. Just like Instagram, you can “follow” the brands you like. Every day, each brand will post a select number of items that are available to purchase. These items, if you follow the brand, will appear in your feed. You can “heart” the items you like, or purchase them outright. All hearted items will be saved to a list that you can browse anytime. You can also browse via general categories like “shoes”, as well as lists compiled by your favorite fashion insiders. (Launch brands include Jason Wu and Prabal Gurung, as well as Everlane and Opening Ceremony. Shops from Rag & Bone, Reformation, and RGB Cosmetics are scheduled to be rolled out imminently.)
What makes it different from Instagram, then? Well, for one, you can actually shop from it. There is a universal checkout, which means—like Amazon—you only have to input your credit card information once. But there are no silly cat photos, or even snaps from a designer’s Hawaiian vacation. Just products. That’s because Spring is not a social network. If you want to share your purchases, or things you might purchase, the app makes it easy for you to post on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. But it’s literally just for shopping. And browsing, of course.Why would I want to do that? Apps like Twitter and Candy Crush can be like black holes—look up and suddenly you’ve lost 20 minutes. Spring also allows you to kill time, but instead of looking at 140 characters, you’re looking at a Proenza Schouler leather dress or pair of Pierre Hardy pumps that you can buy in seconds.What else is good about Spring? One of my favorite features is the photo carousel, which allows brands to upload five images to each post. While some brands are using the carousel to show product close-ups or different angles, just like a traditional e-commerce site would, others are using it to tell a story. (For instance, a fashion brand can show five ways to wear its classic white shirt, or a makeup label can offer a smokey-eye tutorial showcasing its eyeliner.) It’s also just really damn uncomplicated to use. My editor, Leah, who hates shopping online, finds the interface incredibly intuitive.
What’s more, certain brands are offering in-app exclusives, such as Pamela Love’s rose gold “3-Gravitation” earring, or Edie Parker’s “Flavia Hashtag” clutch.
Another really cool element: Spring is working with a range of designers, from fast-fashion to high fashion, many of which don’t yet run their own e-commerce sites. This is their first opportunity to connect directly with you, the consumer, which means they’re going to try extra hard to impress you with more exclusives, and maybe even access to one-of-a-kind items that never went into production.
Are there any downsides? Well, it’s yet another app you need to open, which means it could take a while to become a habit. And if you want to shop a brand’s entire range of products, you still have to hit up its traditional e-commerce site. The app is also a little aggressive about automatically following brands for you. Some people might like this, but I had to unfollow about half of the 66 brands that Spring took the liberty of following for me.
Okay, okay, I’m interested. Now, where do I get it? Click here to download Spring to your iPhone. (Android and iPad versions will be available soon.) And let us know how you like it in the comments below.