Commentary

Threadflip Shows How Mobile Makes The Web Look Frumpy

Shopping-App-BMy wife is a proud Goodwill addict. Nothing pleases her more than coming in the door with a Lucky handbag she found for $5 or a Talbot’s skirt for $3. I understand it takes skill and persistence to scour the racks regularly enough to find those designer cast-offs, but in my mind it is preferable to her indulging this taste for fine clothes at original prices.

I am not sure if I want her getting her hands on the new Threadflip app, however. This peer-to-peer fashion sales site is like eBay for the clothes-aholic set. The app lets you buy other people’s clothing and accessories direct from an individual seller or put one of your old old frocks up for sale.

The service provides an end-to-end solution for individual sellers who don’t want to muss with eBay. You give Threadflip 20% of the purchase price and they send the seller a shipping care package that includes prepaid shipping label and wrapping.

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The service is geared solely to peer-to-peer selling. But the potential here for brands to both advertise and sell is pretty obvious. The company tells me they are in talks with some brands. Clearly, some boutiques are using the service as a way to sell some inventory, like the $230 Hello Kitty Girl Euphoria Athletic Shows for $230 from someone named “White Glove Closet.”

The app version of the site is a model of concise design. It takes its cues from Pinterest, as does its main site. But in many ways it shows how mobile media can create even better digital experiences than Web 2.0 sites. Large images fill the screen with interactive tools laid over the image for sharing and “loving” items as favorites. I was especially impressed by the profiling that allows you to set sizes for various goods so the default filter would render only things that were directly relevant to you.

The built-in camera function makes easy work of snapping a shot of something in your closet. In fact, from the looks of the images in the catalog a lot of people comb through their closets and hang the item on the door to snap a shot. The app designers even incorporated a bit of Instagram, letting you apply a small set of image filters to create vintage or playful effects. The item entry form is made very direct and easy. While I am not myself compelled to sell anything with Threadflip, I am admiring the way they use the app design to make it so easy to post something for sale.

It is a good example of how mobile demonstrably improves a Web process that otherwise would require multiple steps of taking images, transferring, cropping, etc. Retailers might also look at the simple and easy search filter that allows the user to toggle a series of browsing preferences in a single screen.

As e-shopping apps evolve, it is easy to see how the engagement of the platform and the design and feature discipline that mobile imposes on retailers could result in mobile being a superior way to shop to the Web itself. This simply is a more focused and enjoyable experience than most Web retail sites. The eye is filled with consumable goodness. And the interface is forced to optimize the experience. This is how mobile makes the Web look frowsy, cluttered and unmindful of customer need.

When even a guy like me finds himself flipping through one outrageous handbag after another just to see how weird it all gets, you know you are addictive. Who knew someone would make a silver clutch bag with a brass knuckle handle? No kidding.

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