Competiton Among Shopping Discovery Apps

A few weeks ago, I presented in class on the topic of LiketoKnow.it, a shopping discovery app that launched last year. After fielding some of your questions as well as reading my presentation feedback, I decided to follow up with a post that delves a little bit more into the landscape in which LiketoKnow.it competes.

Before I get into the new stuff, though, here are a few highlights from my presentation:

  • Rewardstyle was founded in 2011 as an end-to-end content monetization platform for influencers and brands.
  • In order to solve the issue presented by Instagram, Rewardstyle created LiketoKnow.it, a consumer-facing platform that allows users to share shoppable links with their followers on Instagram.
  • The LiketoKnow.it app is predominantly driven by screenshots – users can take a screenshot of a photo they like and then the app will analyze the content of the photo to identify the products that are featured.

But LiketoKnow.it isn’t the only app out there that offers to streamline your online shopping experience. In my quest for competitors, I came across three that seem like they could pose a credible threat to LiketoKnow.it’s success.

  1. Instagram’s In-App Shopping Function

Remember how I said that Instagram posed a challenge for influencers because the app doesn’t allow tagging non-verified accounts? Well, in November of 2016, Instagram began testing a new shopping function that would make it easier for users to buy the products that are featured in brand’s posts. For the initial launch, Instagram teamed up with select brands like Kate Spade and J Crew. After seeing positive results during the testing phase, they decided to roll out the feature to thousands of other apparel, jewelry, and beauty brands. These special posts have a “tap to view” icon that, when tapped, displays a tag with the product name and price. A more detailed view is available if the user clicks on the tag. If you’re interested in learning more, the video in this blog written by Instagram’s business team does a much better job of explaining the feature than I probably did.

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  1. Screenshop

The Screenshop app is one of the latest endeavors of Kim Kardashian West. Now, for those of you wondering if Kim plans to make the switch from reality star to digital entrepreneur, the answer is probably no. She owns only a minority stake in the company really just serves as an “advisor”. The app, which launched in November of 2017, lets users take screenshots from anywhere – Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and apparently any other app with photos– and shop the clothing and accessories (or similar products) in the images. Users can sort the resulting products by a number of different attributes including the degree of similarity to the item in the photo, price, and brand. And, according the description on the App Store Screenshop will not only locate the item you’re interested in, but it will also help you find the best price. This is a feature that’s not offered by the LiketoKnow.it app or Instagram’s in-app shopping. One of the key indicators of the success of an app like this is the number of its brand and retailer partners. Since its launch, Screenshop has partnered with brands like ASOS, TopShop, Saks Fifth Avenue and roughly 450 others to create a database of 10 million products. While these figures seem impressive, keep in mind that LiketoKnow.it boasts 4,000 retailers and over 575,000 brands. Both apps, however, offer a variety of high-end and affordable options.

Using the Screenshop is not too different than using LiketoKnow.it. This video is a quick demonstration by Kim Kardashian of the app’s utility. One thing that I found surprising was the sophistication of the app’s underlying technology. The following list isn’t extensive of the actual technology needed to support the app, but they were the pieces I found most interesting:

  • Artificial Intelligence: Screenshop is able to recognize which of your screenshots are fashion related and ignore those that are not
  • Recommendation Algorithm: Behind the scenes, the app looks at the products the user interacts with and uses these preferences when deciding which products to show in the future.
  • Computer Learning Vision: The app uses multiple technologies to understand and analyze your screenshots. Therefore, the more you use the app, the more tailored to your likes/dislikes it becomes.

All in all, when you look at the numbers in terms of brand representation, Screenshop doesn’t measure up to LiketoKnow.it. That said, Screenshop does have a leg up in the sense that it lets users upload photos from anywhere on the web. The question will be whether or not Screenshop can hold onto this advantage or if LiketoKnow.it will soon roll out similar functionality. If that were to be the case, LiketoKnow.it would almost surely come out on top.

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  1. The Hunt

Lastly, we have The Hunt. Released in 2013, The Hunt advertises itself as “the cure for style envy” and a community of 4 million users that “track down the items you covet.” Here are some of the things you can do on the app:

  • Participate in a “Hunt”: Post a photo of something you like (ex. a celebrity’s outfit” and the community of other Hunt users will help you find where to buy it. Likewise, help out a fellow fashion lover by helping them find an item.
  • Poll the Community: Get help in making style decisions by polling the community.

The Hunt is clearly not an app along the lines of LiketoKnow.it or Screenshop. However, I decided to include it in this discussion because it is a shopping discovery app at heart and I thought it had some unique features that make it a viable competitor.

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4 comments

  1. I appreciate you did a follow up blog post based on feedback received about your presentation! I find your discussion about Screenshop super interesting. I would expect with the backing of an influencer like Kim Kardashian West and with the robust technologies you discussed that Screenshop would be more successful than LiketoKnow.it. I think it speaks to the first mover advantage and the users LiketoKnow.it was able to garner by being one of the first apps of its kind. It also was able to build on the existing resources and knowledge of Rewardstyle.

    I also think this speaks to a larger point of the importance of the implementation and marketing of technology. Screenshop’s AI, recommendation algorithm, and computer learning vision seem very advanced and useful for a consumer, but if the consumer is not aware, are they providing value? I question how much companies should market their technology. They do not want to make consumers feel “creeped out” if technology is tracking them, but the benefits of technology can improve consumer experience.

  2. I just sent your blog post to a coworker because we were talking about LiketoKnowit at lunch. I think that as tech increases and opens up, this could have much more use outside of Instagram, so I liked hearing about Screenshop. We also now would like a homegoods/furniture app, similar to the IKEA one you tweeted about. The idea of comparison shopping from your phone – or seeing something you like and instantly being able to find it, sounds like something many industries could have coming soon!

  3. Great post, Margaret! I really enjoyed hearing about apps similar to LiketoKnow.it, especially since I’m such a big fan of the platform. I agree with your point — it will be interesting to see if LiketoKnow.it can roll out something similar to what Screenshop has done because, to me, that holds much more value in finding out what brands certain clothes belong to and where to buy those clothes.

    On another note, I feel like the role technology plays in LiketoKnow.it and Screenshop vs. The Hunt largely contributes to each app’s respective success. A friend of mine suggested that I use The Hunt last year to find a dress I was looking for. After waiting for a number of weeks, no results had been found. In retrospect, this is not all that surprisingly because it relies on collective intelligence as opposed to cutting edge technology. People can choose where they offer their knowledge (and it wasn’t on my post)! On the other hand, LiketoKnow.it and Screenshop rely on more advance practices (as you mentioned, AI and different algorithms) that keep them competitive.

  4. Nice post! It’s interesting to see that there’s not really one main company that is dominating this space in digital fashion. Screenshop, I believe, is one of the easiest apps to use just because I can access and get information from any picture I screen shot on my phone. After Kim promoted the app, I couldn’t believe it so I had to try it out for myself. What’s really nice about this app is that it not only gives you options from high end stores –> the pricier side, but also gives you cheaper options.
    This blog also opens up the discussion for how fashion has evolved with the use of technology. Fashion is now easier to access thanks to apps such as Poshmark and websites like https://www.renttherunway.com/. Katie does have a point that this AI technology can be creepy in a way, but if it is executed well I think it can make the life of a consumer much easier. When I want something now, all I have to do is screenshot the picture instead of walking through multiple stores and malls to find something similar. I think at this point, it is still on the cool side of the spectrum, but we will have to see where this technology takes us with not just fashion, but shopping in general.

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