New Mobile Commerce Leverage

I’m thinking about “new mobile commerce” all the time lately. If you are building something in this space, or have used products you love, please do reach out to me. While thinking about mobile commerce isn’t anything new or novel for most people, it is for me, and I’d like to continue to invest in the space. Recently, I looked back at how Haystack II is shaping up, and I noticed a little trend — consumer mobile apps centered around commerce. More specifically, I am interested in:

(1) Mobile commerce apps which leverage a proprietary data set: In this case, a company has built and/or has access to data which empowers them to empower consumers to save time, money, or both. Here, mobile apps can present users with a more intuitive interfaces in which to signal intent, make decisions, and complete transactions. I started thinking about this as a sub-theme after investing in FLYR, which has built a proprietary data set around predictive airfares in order to sell an insurance product for people to pay a fee to lock-in airfares. (FLYR as an API can also work on the web in a B2B context, but on mobile, it has the potential to unlock a new type of consumer behavior on mobile.)

(2) Mobile commerce apps which leverage mobile sensors: What kind of commerce is only possible using the camera and/or location sensor, etc.? When I heard about MTailor and went through the first few screens of the onboarding flow, I knew it was something different. MTailor uses the phone’s front-facing camera to record video of the consumer and then turn that imagery into fit measurements for clothing — today, that is for men’s dress shirts, and it works great. I’m guessing there are some commerce apps which use the camera well already, so please let me know what you like or reach out to me.

(3) Mobile commerce apps which collect consumer demand and fulfill that demand via offline logistics: This is a theme I’ve written about a lot — the phone is incredible at aggregating demand, but then startups need to find clever (usually offline) ways to fulfill that demand. This is what Uber, Instacart, Postmates, and everyone in the category do well. More recently, I was fortunate to be introduced to the folks behind BRANDiD, which is about to launch mobile — essentially, BRANDiD is a service which drop-ships curated clothes for men to customers, and then physically picks up those items which are not desired.

(4) Mobile commerce apps hooked into P2P network effects: I had to change my thinking here recently. Initially, I thought that marketplace apps need both Android and iOS to get over the liquidity problem. Earlier, I was lucky to invest in Cambly. More recently, I found a company which is iPhone only, P2P commerce between moms who want to buy and sell kids-related items via an Instagram-like experience (TotSpot). P2P requires not only scale but huge levels of transactions to make it work for a company, but companies like Poshmark, Threadflip, and others have validated the space can grow like a weed on mobile.

Yes, there are other more traditional mobile commerce and shopping apps. I am not personally interested in those. So, my questions to you are: (1) Am I missing any other types of mobile commerce angles and (2) What mobile commerce apps do you love and why? And, of course, if you’re building in this space, please contact me.

Haystack is written by Semil Shah, and is published under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. Copyright © 2018 Semil Shah.

“I write this not for the many, but for you; each of us is enough of an audience for the other.”— Epicurus