tiltsta fashion flagpole shopping

With all due respect to Instagram, there’s more than one way to tackle social shopping. Just ask Tiltsta, a three-year-old Australia-bred, New York-based start-up with a unique take on digital pop-up stores: motion-controlled shoppable videos that work across social media networks.

The company, which unveiled its April roll-out on Tuesday, describes the action as a simple yet fun way for consumers to shop social stories or videos. Instead of tapping to add items to a shopping cart, Tiltsta’s tech works with a literal flick of the wrist — or a tossing back of the hand holding the phone — amounting to the company’s namesake “tilt.”

The key to this action appears rooted in behavioral science. “In thousands of A/B/C/D split tests and customer interviews, we see tilting performs better overall than clicking or swiping,” cofounder Bonny Morlak told WWD. “We don’t yet fully understand why tilting is so powerful, but we believe that the brain registers the physical movement in a different, more engaging way than a swipe or click.

“It feels good and gives the impression of interacting with the brand,” he said. Plus, while hackers today can generate phony button presses and other software inputs, the company believes the act of tilting is the sole provenance of human beings. Machines can’t fake that.

The underlying technology, in technical terms, also leans on simplicity. Tiltsta was coded using core web languages HTML5 and Javascript, essentially casting it as akin to a web app that runs in a mobile web browser. Users don’t need to download or install another app to make the flick-to-shop action work.

For some partners, support can be a streamlined affair. The company offers Tiltsta Studio, which plugs into major e-commerce systems such as Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Magento and Shopify. The program creates the tilts from a selected set of products, and assigns a unique web address for use as a landing page.

To start, the list of brands includes Flagpole, Faith Connexion, TheSalting, Fall Risk, Rich Gone Broke, Heidi Daus, Saturday School, The Andi Brand, Rune NYC and Commonwealth Proper.

The approach allows Tiltsta to make a big claim: The company says that its web app can work across a broad range of messaging and social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat, Pinterest, TikTok, e-mail campaigns and the mobile web sites of any brand.

Tiltsta shopping mobile commerce

Tiltsta works with a literal tilt or flick of the wrist.  Courtesy image

The other piece of the puzzle is data.

When it comes to transaction details, the arrangement is a no-brainer. Tiltsta sends shoppers to the brands and retailers’ own checkout pages — similar to the way Instagram sent shoppers to partner sites for payment, before it revealed its own checkout feature last week. But that’s where the comparison ends.

If Instagram’s universal shopping cart draws more attention to mobile e-commerce, that’s a good thing for everyone working in this area, Morlak said. “[But] for brands that want to be in control of their own data, checking out on their own site is important. Understanding the customer is imperative. Selling is one thing — understanding why is where the rubber hits the road.”

Toward that end, Tiltsta uses Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics in the tilt to glean insights and share them with partners. It also sees other nuances — like how people tilt, how hard, how fast and when — which sheds light on emotional reactions to specific products.

Like with any tech company, and increasingly retail operations, testing and learning are vital to the start-up. It even created a test brand, Lace & Butter, so it could evaluate the results. According to Morlak, Tiltsta consistently measures a 50 percent drop in bounce rate, and 10 times more products added to carts. For Lace & Butter, the company sees conversion rates from 5 to 14 percent.

Ironically, Instagram itself may have validated Tiltsta’s work. Morlak recalled Instagram product boss Vishal Shah’s sentiments at a 2018 conference: Shah reportedly said marketing teams may effectively get users to shop, Morlak recounted, “but then the emotional connection breaks when customers land on the product page.

“It simply ‘feels’ different,” he said.

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