Private investment firm Comvest Partners acquires the financially troubled e-retailer, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March.
Shoppers now can try on earrings and necklaces via augmented reality.
Web-only jeweler Ice.com Inc. says shopping via the newly released version 2 of its iPhone mobile commerce app is more intuitive and easy than the previous version and includes more augmented reality and social sharing functionality. Shmuel Gniwisch, CEO of Ice, believes version 2 of an app, more so than version 1, has to do everything right.
“We rewrote the whole app because we felt the first shot was good but not as good as we would have liked,” Gniwisch says. “Version 1 was a learning experience, where everything was new. You really have to do things right in version 2.”
Doing things right for Ice meant expanding the use of augmented reality technology. Ice has enabled shoppers to virtually try on rings and bracelets through augmented reality and use of a smartphone’s camera. A shopper presses the Try On button and the app provides simple instructions for taking a picture of a hand and wrist and then placing images of the rings and bracelets precisely on fingers and wrists. This requires a lot of work with product photos on the back-end, getting numerous shots from various angles so that a piece of jewelry will look right on a hand or wrist.
In version 2 of the iPhone app, Ice, No. 323 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400, enables shoppers to try on earrings and necklaces. Ice is finishing up taking all the additional product photos and anticipates all earrings and necklaces will be available to try on by next week.
Ice has added social sharing to version 2 of the app, allowing shoppers to share pictures of themselves wearing Ice jewelry with friends and family via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. It is in the process of adding Pinterest. Gniwisch says social sharing is not yet available for customers using the iPhone 4 because of a programming quirk with that particular device. He says it requires additional coding work to enable social sharing on the iPhone 4, and that Ice is almost finished with the extra coding.
Version 2 also enables customers to check out within the app. In version 1, when a shopper touched the Checkout button, she was taken to the retailer’s mobile commerce web site to complete her purchase. Now checkout is entirely contained within the app. Customers can sign in to their Ice.com accounts and access stored billing, shipping and payment information, thus reducing the amount of typing required on the mobile device.
Ice has added the option to pay for a purchase in three payments for orders that total at least $60. This option appears during the checkout process.
Version 2 will feature app-only special promotions delivered to customers who opt in to push notifications, short messages delivered on a smartphone screen even if an app is closed. Gniwisch says such offers could include 50% off earrings or double rewards points for a day.
The Ice iPhone app has been downloaded 40,000 times; since its release Feb. 7, 5,000 app users have updated their app to version 2, Ice reports. Gniwisch says that’s a strong number for less than a week. He is going to be promoting the updated app to Ice.com customers and the merchant’s 640,000 Facebook fans, as well as to customers of companies Ice partners with. The promotion, the timing of which has yet to be determined, will encourage consumers to download the Ice app, take a Try On picture, and submit it to Ice to be entered in a contest to win the jewelry the consumer selected to try on along with a new iPhone.
“We’re going to be pushing to get people to download the app,” Gniwisch says. “I held back until I felt comfortable with the app. Now we’re going to rock and roll.”
Gniwisch says version 2 required hundreds of hours in staff time and cost around $50,000.
“It was an around-the-clock, intense development cycle,” he says. “We make the app sound so easy when we discuss it, but it’s incredibly crazy, it’s a pain, it’s a lot of hard work.”
Ice plans to release a version of the app for Android users in June.
199 of the top 400 retailers, travel firms and ticket sellers in mobile commerce offer an iPhone app, according to data from the Internet Retailer Mobile 400, a compendium on the m-commerce industry that ranks companies by 2012 mobile commerce sales.