Email is still effective as hell: Hipiti consolidates shopping emails and highlights the sales

By Erin Griffith , written on November 13, 2012

From The News Desk

Just because there's no real need for a service doesn't mean it shouldn't be built. Take Hipiti, a New York startup that launched today. The company provides two services to users that sound repetitive and unnecessary: a daily email showing you stuff to buy, and a shopping platform that aggregates sales. More email? Deals and discounts? Shopping platform? It's enough to turn off anyone with a daily deals hangover and a cluttered inbox. Which is to say, everyone.

And yet! I've used the service for a week and I've opened every single email. It's useful, addicting and personalized (but not in a gross filter bubble way). It's reminded me of the power of email. Done badly, and it can turn users off of even the best service in the world. Done well, and it's the difference between an active user and a mere sign-up.

In the last nine months I've signed up for so many Facebook apps, daily emails, subscription commerce sites, mobile apps and marketplaces. No matter how great each service might be, it's always the ones with good emails that last. For a couple examples: I open every email I get from One King's Lane, Birchbox and Bauble Bar.  I unsubscribed from ShoeDazzle, the Mints, Shoes of Prey, all the daily deals and flash sales, Jetsetter, even Fab.

Everyone knows content and commerce is a thing they need to do, and everyone says they do it. But not everyone does it well. I'm not sure if it's a science or an art, but I believe Hipiti has the right idea with its first iteration.

It works very simply: you sign up and tell the service about a handful of national brands you like. Then you're emailed daily with a digest of when your favorite brand's e-commerce site has new merchandize, or a sale. The email might introduce you to new brands similar to the ones you've opted to follow.

Beyond that, Hipiti tells you how good the sale is. Does J. Crew always have free shipping on orders of over $150? Is this the only time of year West Elm discounts its sofas greater than 30 percent? Hipiti's "SaleTally" engine uses two years of historical data, scraped from the 100-plus websites and their related social media accounts in its system, to tell you that. The problem for now is that the language is too vague and almost every sale comes with the generic recommendation of, "Ooh, nice! Deals like this don't come too often." Exactly how un-often do they come, Hipiti? I know you know! The company says it has data on whether a sale is a new type of sale, exactly how often sales occur, and whether there is a better sale on the horizon.

Hipiti's business model is affiliate fees to start. The company has a relationship with around 40 percent of the retailers on its site now. But the company sees affiliate fees as a jumping off point for a mobile app that delivers offers and store locations based on proximity.

As Michael explained last week, not all brick-and-mortar retailers are embracing the wild world of social media marketing and in-store app experiences. Hipiti's founders  Kristin Flink Kranias and Rama Katkar, have seen it firsthand, having worked in retail consulting and retail-focused private equity. "There is a lot of confusion about what's happening with digital landscape," Katkar says. "It has become very fragmented, going through bloggers and on social media. It's not just TV and direct marketing anymore, and retailers are looking for ways to reach consumers," she says. Starting small, with an email that's not revolutionary but is very effective, Hipiti hopes to become one of those ways.