Shopping apps are nothing new, but New York City-based Consmr has a grander vision beyond price comparisons: to inform consumers with an in-depth library of product reviews for things like health, groceries, beauty, and baby items. Think of it like a Yelp for consumer products.
Shoppers are clearly biting: the Consmr iPhone app has received over 100,000 downloads in its first two weeks, CEO Ryan Charles told VentureBeat exclusively.
Charles, the former head of mobile at Zagat, launched Consmr’s website a year ago with the goal of populating the site with user-contributed product reviews. By the time Consmr’s iPhone app launched on May 9th, the company had amassed a collection of over 100,000 reviews.
“That was the plan all along,” Charles said in an interview yesterday. He noticed that many competing applications had launched without an extensive review library, and he wanted to offer Consmr’s users something more valuable.
It also would have been more difficult to garner a huge amount of reviews if Consmr launched first on mobile, Charles said. (He points out that the popular foodie app Foodspotting also hit the web first to gather reviews, before going mobile.)
Just like the Consmr website, you can use the iPhone app to search for product reviews. But the Consmr app also allows you to scan a barcode, like so many other shopping apps, to instantly access a product’s page. For such a young app, it’s surprisingly fast and well-designed. It’s simple enough for mainstream consumers to use, but it’s slick enough to impress user interface geeks.
You can share reviews with your friends, and also follow other users to get a sense of their tastes. Consmr taps into your Facebook and Twitter accounts, allowing you to easily find your friends on the service. There are also a handful of celebrities using Consmr, including the online wine guru Gary Vaynerchuk. You can also create private shopping lists on the service (which will likely be shareable in the future).
Charles tells me that he has a passion for curated content in the mobile space. At Zagat, he was responsible for major deals, like the review guide’s partnership with Foursquare.
He was also inspired by how online retailers like Amazon were able to increase sales by letting customers review products. “It [reviews] increases consumer confidence,” Charles said, which was his biggest problem when shopping in retail stores where you have to sift through tens of thousands of product choices.
Consmr is based out of the WeWork Labs in Soho, and the company hasn’t revealed any funding yet (though Charles discussed raising funds last year).