November 29, 2012, 2:28 PM

A new app takes the shopping mall to the tablet

The Flit Shopping iPad app lets shoppers search for items across many e-retailers at once.

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Going to the mall and hitting up electronics stores to see if a particular camera is in stock is time-consuming. Searching for that item on several e-retail sites is a little faster. Now a new iPad app aims to help consumers find what they are looking for even more quickly.

Called Flit Shopping, the tablet app enables shoppers to enter what they are looking for and search the retail sites of thousands of participating e-retailers quickly without leaving the app, Flit says. Flit works with online stores including Neiman Marcus, TopShop and CB2.

Flit connects to e-commerce sites, allowing shoppers to search each site within the app. “This allows us to deliver a shopping experience that leverages a retailer's existing web site,” says Adrian Lall, CEO and founder of Flit Shopping. “For shoppers, it means they get the full branded experience and merchandising expertise of that store.”

To use the app, shoppers type in what they are seeking, for example, purple handbag, and the app pulls up all the sites that have such an item. Shoppers can seek friends’ guidance on products they are considering by sending an e-mail or by connecting to Facebook via the app.  Flit also offers alerts, notifying users when stores they have saved as their favorites get new merchandise or when an item at a favorite store goes on sale.

Flit users can also mark items as Cute, which will save the product in the app so they can purchase it later. And, a comparison feature lets shoppers compare prices, full product details and different styles for up to three items side by side.  For example, shoppers can compare a coffee table from CB2 with similar items from other stores. When shoppers are ready to buy, Flit directs them to the e-commerce site to complete their purchase.

To determine the order of stores within search results, Flit uses a formula that balances a consumer’s past shop visits, brand preferences and relevant stores that pay for greater exposure.

Flit makes money through affiliate fees it charges participating retailers and via add-on services, such as fees for higher or more prominent placement in search results and custom campaigns it offers retailers. Those campaigns, Flit says, are designed to increase merchants’ exposure in specific product categories and connect them with shoppers more likely to purchase.  

“The goal with Flit is to make it easy for online shoppers to buy from and discover both larger stores and smaller boutiques while fully retaining the retailer’s merchandising and branding,” says Lall. “We are encouraging the diversity of online shopping.”

More shoppers are using mobile devices such as tablets to buy gifts this holiday season. In a recent poll of 10,000 online buyers conducted by Bizrate Insights and Forrester Research Inc., 25% of online buyers said they shopped with a mobile device over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Of that group, 70% used mobile devices to make a purchase, 60% to browse or research products, 56% to check prices, and 37% to read product or store reviews. And, additional research from Adobe Systems Inc. finds mobile revenue accounted for 22% of total Cyber Monday sales, up 100% from last year. That estimate is based on data from mainly larger retailer clients that alone accounted for more than $1 billion in online sales Monday.

Neiman Marcus is No. 108 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400. CB2 is owned by Crate and Barrel, No. 59 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

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