While there are certainly perks to online shopping, the dizzying array of options can complicate what should be a simple purchase. On top of a multitude of products, there are a multitude of vendors and review sites to “help” consumers make decisions.
A startup called LEAP Commerce is launching its Best Decision engine to make the experience of mobile shopping less fragmented and more personalized.
The first step in this simplification process is the “virtual mall.” LEAP has partnered with major retailers like Svpply, Amazon, and Walmart to make their merchandize searchable on LEAP’s platform, and there are between 78 and 110 million available products.
When downloading the app, users identify the type of shopper they are. An algorithm processes this information to suggest relevant products, based on personal style, price points, brand preferences, and location. There is a prominent social layer, so brands and products liked by people in your social network go to the top, and sharing is built into the app to make it easy to consult with your friends.
One of the biggest pain points in online shopping is having to maneuver between multiple sites. LEAP consolidates not only the browsing experience, but also the purchasing. Its Universal Cart lets you add and buy items in one transaction, even if they come from different sources. The individual merchants will still ship the order separately, but you don’t have to check out more than once.
LEAP was started by a group of successful entrepreneurs and early Facebook employees who wanted to capitalize on their industry expertise. CEO Amit Chatterjee said the founding team observed clear trends in the use of technology and wanted to put these observations towards good (lucrative) use.
“We believe social, mobile, and big data are going to intersect in a radically different way that will drive transformation across the spectrum of e-commerce,” he said. “These forces will allow us to rethink industries that have already been disrupted by the Internet, and disrupt them again.”
Chatterjee identified four stages in the shopping process: awareness, consideration, purchase, reflection. He said there are many companies that succeed in one or two of these phases but none that connect them all. Furthermore, there are few mobile platforms where payment processing is user-friendly, and many consumers remain skeptical about the security of mobile transactions.
“LEAP stands for Loyalty, Engagement, Analytics, and Payment,” Chatterjee said. “We are trying to grab that entire story. We believe we can create conversations with consumers that will allow people to procure what they want to procure in the most effective way and have relationships with the brands.”
By presenting an array of products from multiple vendors, incorporating a social element, and enabling dialogue, Chatterjee said LEAP will both take the shopping experience back to the days of the bazaar and modernize e-commerce. LEAP is currently available on iOS (iPhones and iPads), and Android and a fully-featured website are coming soon. The company also has a Software Development Kit for developers.
It was founded in 2011 and is based in San Francisco. Investors include venture firms and angel investors, as well as executives from the financial services industry.