Shopping app Spring has the goods to sell, but now it needs a point of view.
The New York-based firm, after roughly two years building up the supply side of its mobile-first e-commerce platform, is turning its attention in the second half toward bolstering its editorial offering when it comes to curating looks and partnering with more influencers and publishers. It’s made some strides — earlier this year, for example, Spring profiled 33 female founders of various companies. But there’s more to do.
“The idea is to be the shopping button on your phone,” said president Marshall Porter. “We made a very conscious decision focused on supply and technology [since the founding]….We’ve spent, realistically, the last two years building that supply base. We launched with 1,000 stockkeeping units. We now have 151,000 skus active today, so really huge evolution there. Now it’s time to continue to do that. We want to continue to bring brands on board but also augment that with a really strong consumer focus.”
Spring isn’t specific about what individuals or companies it will partner with to bring more content to its followers. But that is just one part of a move to compete beyond, at the most basic level, continuing to bring on more brands.
Bonobos launches on Spring next week. That will be followed by Giorgio Armani by the end of August. Moschino is slated for a rollout by year’s end. Yet, even with those big names, Spring wants to be seen as a place for emerging designers. It has room to grow — about 30 percent of the more than 1,200 fashion, beauty and other lifestyle brands for men and women could be considered emerging designers.
The push to create greater distinction with the shopping app come off the back of a major rebranding exercise that capped about a month ago. The work not only revamped the web site but added new functionalities — some of them still in early days, including a Facebook bot shopping assistant launched with Facebook Messenger.
Spring, which has raised $32.5 million thus far across two rounds, has year-to-date seen 20 percent growth in sales each month, according to Marshall.
The app, which is known for a shopping experience akin to scrolling through Instagram, in March switched from the well-known feed style to something a bit more editorially driven. The company didn’t do away with the feed; it’s just a secondary tab offering that lets shoppers follow brands of their choice. About a month later, Spring added a shopping cart for checkout, along with the ability to search by size rather than just brand. In June, it relaunched with its new design.
“It’s a fresher take on what our brand is,” Porter said. “If you look at the old brand, we were trying not to outshine our other brands. It wasn’t a fashion brand….You could argue it was a technology brand. We want to emote more of a designlike, fashion-oriented brand.”
The company’s use of the Facebook bot, which cues up a chat dialogue with a shopper to help them find what they’re looking for, is proving a useful source of information, although Porter said the company is not yet sharing specifics on just how effective the bot has been.
It’s all an evolution in step with customers and how they’re using the app.
“Spring, at its inception, it was more around discovery without as much built around the experience of a high-intent shopper,” Porter said.
That is, someone opening the app or visiting the site who was in need of a pair of black pants for example, didn’t necessarily need to scroll through a feed of dozens and dozens of different items.
“We also did learn from the consumers that, as we put up more and more brands and more and more product, that we needed to give them some sense of direction and help them navigate,” said chief brand officer April Uchitel, who came to the company after having worked at Diane von Furstenberg, BCBG Max Azria and Karen Kane.
Uchitel is in Los Angeles this week for meetings to introduce the new look of Spring but also for this evening’s Gen Art “Fresh Faces in Fashion” event, featuring the work of five local, emerging designers. Spring will sell the designers’ collections on its app and site in conjunction with the event.
Support of Gen Art is very much in line with Spring’s DNA of pushing emerging designers and harkens back to that discovery experience, Uchitel said — even as the shopping app’s offerings continue to balloon.
“For us, that’s something that differentiates us from the typical matrix of traditional retailers,” Uchitel said. “It really allows us to have a unique lens.”