A pantheon built from greed and smartphones: Apptive helps indie sellers join the mobile shopping extravaganza
It seems that many parents will begin their annual prostration to the greedy gods of Thanksgiving weekend by studiously monitoring their smartphones. A survey from the Interactive Advertising Bureau found that 91 percent of parents plan on using their smartphones to shop during this most capitalistic of holidays, effectively turning their mobile devices into holy texts that reveal deals, discounts, and dizzying displays of the new holiday spirit.
Despite their increasing smartphone usage, however, many respondents said that they wouldn't use their smartphones to make transactions. They would rather use them to check an item's price, make sure the store has what they're seeking in stock, and find new gift ideas.
This matches similar revelations from a Signifyd report showing that many consumers are shopping on their smartphones but making purchases on their tablets or desktop computers. Mobile devices might help consumers study their consumeristic gods' ways, but many "tithes" are still being made through older product categories.
Smartphones simply aren't the best shopping devices. Their itty-bitty screens allow them to display information without issue, which is why many shoppers are using them to find deals and compare product prices, but entering the proper credit card and shipping information is often more trouble than it's worth. That's especially true on the Web, where many sites are still ill-suited to small screens and unable to use many of the technologies available to native applications.
Which is why Apptive, an Austin-based startup that is today announcing the closing of a $1 million funding round from Central Texas Angel Network, Barshop Ventures, and others, has been building its "application-as-a-service" product with shopping in mind. Its service has been used to create 150 apps that are said to have been downloaded by 20,000 consumers, and it plans to use this funding to expand its reach and better serve the individuals and small businesses to which it's marketing its wares.
"It's still a pain in the ass to type a credit card number and address on an iPhone keyboard," says Apptive CEO Chris Belew. "Much of this issue is caused by user interface problems, which we seek to solve with these mobile apps. You can just do certain things with native mobile apps that you can't do with a mobile website."
Belew says that many of Apptive's customers are individuals running their own storefronts on e-commerce platforms like Volusion, Bigcommerce, and 3dcart. The company will also create an app for these customers, effectively turning it into a client-platform hybrid seeking to help a larger pantheon of consumeristic demigods reach their followers in new ways. (They aren't the only ones hoping to use new technologies to find and benefit from believers, either.)
And really, isn't that what this holiday is all about? Forget visiting family and friends. Forget watching the President pardon a turkey and then head inside to devour another. Forget using a holiday with "thanks" in its name to express gratitude for the smartphone, tablet, and PC you're probably gonna use to buy even more junk.
The next few days are about buying from big box retailers on Thanksgiving and Black Friday; then you're supposed to go and support some small business or another on Small Business Saturday; then you're gonna turn to Amazon for all the stuff you couldn't find at Walmart on Cyber Monday. Just like the pilgrims -- and our deities and demigods of capitalism and greed -- intended.
[Image via Thinkstock]