Tinyview brings together dozens of retailers in a mobile site and app.
For many consumers it would likely be a pain in the neck to download all of the apps from all of the retailers that might carry products they are interested in buying, Raj Lalwani thought last year. Lalwani had an idea: to bring together many retailers in one mobile commerce site and app to create a mobile shopping mall.
In early February, Lalwani unveiled the start-up Tinyview, a mobile site and iPhone app that features 50 retailers under one mobile roof. Lalwani has experience with Internet start-ups: His last start-up was Social Calendar, a Facebook app with 16 million users that @WalmartLabs acquired for an undisclosed sum last year.
Tinyview essentially is a user interface that sits atop the collected m-commerce sites of the 50 retailers, which include Amazon.com Inc., Walmart.com, Target Corp., Forever 21, Abercrombie & Fitch, Macy’s Inc., Nordstrom Inc. and Urban Outfitters Inc. A consumer selects a merchant from the Stores section and that retailer’s m-commerce site appears within the Tinyview interface. While the consumer shops, she keeps products of interest in a list by pressing the Save button on the interface when the product page is displayed. A one-time sign-in to Facebook is required to Save products to lists. Shoppers then can share products or lists with friends and family.
The more a product is saved to lists, the higher it appears in Tinyview’s Trending section, where a consumer can swipe vertically through images of products that include the number of Saves. A consumer taps on a product to open up a screen with more product information and a Buy button that leads to the m-commerce site cart. Tinyview earns affiliate fees for purchases it facilitates; the fees range from 4-10%, Tinyview says.
“Checkout takes place on the m-commerce site because users feel very comfortable with the retailers—Nordstrom, for example, brings a certain reputation to the transaction and consumers feel comfortable doing business with them,” Lalwani says. “Overall it’s a very symbiotic relationship we have with retailers—we help them with sales, and we exist only because they have excellent mobile retail sites.”
The iPhone app also offers a feature called Auto-Fill that makes it easier to shop on a smartphone. A consumer saves her payment card, billing and shipping information in a secure area of the Tinyview app. The app automatically detects when a checkout page appears. The consumer presses the Auto-Fill button in the app and the app populates all the appropriate fields on the checkout page with the information saved in the app.
“Most of the time you can buy a product and checkout completely without a single keystroke,” Lalwani says.
So far the hot spot in the app is the Trending section. 90% of app users visit the Trending section, Lalwani says. This area of the smartphone app is popular because consumers like to know what’s popular and discover new products, and the section can boost little-known products or niche retailers, Lalwani says.
“What is happening is there is an excellent product from a small niche store, and that product rapidly goes up in the trending list and people are exposed to that product and go to that store to buy that product and discover other products,” he says. “A lot of small stores pop up in Trending, and our users are exposed to these stores’ products as they move up the trending page.”
Lalwani says it’s too early to reveal how many times the app has been downloaded. Tinyview is promoting its app in Facebook and Google paid search advertisements targeting iPhone users. “We are getting a lot of users every day through these ads,” Lalwani says. “And the viral component kicks in: People share a list with a friend and then the friend becomes a user.”