When Shoptagr co-founders Jonathan Friedman and Ronen Yuval-Hoch met in 2012, they both had experience building and launching startups. But Friedman credits his fiancé for the inspiration to develop Shoptagr: “One day I told Ronen about how my fiancé could spend hours checking back and forth on price drops [of items] she wanted in her size and preferred color. We quickly discovered that the process was totally broken, as people actually hunt for sales online like they do offline. This really inspired us to create a solid solution.”
They both eventually left their jobs to raise a pre-seed round of capital and co-found Shoptagr – an ecommerce price-watching tool.
How it works
To begin adding and tracking items with Shoptagr, shoppers first need to sign up for an account and drag Shoptagr’s bookmarklet to their browser’s bookmarks toolbar. Shoppers then browse as usual on over 300 supported online stores including Abercrombie & Fitch, Amazon, Anthropologie, Aritzia, Asos – and that’s only a selection of the “A” sites.
Shoppers can then tag items they wish to add to their watchlists and are notified whenever items on their watchlists go on sale.
What’s great about Shoptagr is that it allows shoppers to track items by size, color and other specifications. It also allows shoppers to organize their tags without having to visit their Shoptagr account by adding items to lists as they tag and set other alert specifications.
And instead of aggregating feeds like some competitors, Shoptagr uses a crawling engine built in-house, which tracks price changes in real-time and results in faster loading times and greater flexibility, Friedman says. Shoptagr also supports multi-currency tracking, while competitors like Hukkster only track US dollar prices.
Then again, some of Shoptagr’s competitors like Hukkster and Amazon’s Camelcamelcamel search for coupon codes as well as discounts — and others like Nifti allow shoppers greater flexibility by setting alerts for any dollar value or a 10 to 50% discount. Shoptagr doesn’t search for coupon codes and only allows offers three discount alert settings: any price change, 25% off or 50% off.
Pricify, another competitor, allows shoppers to help its extension find a price when there are many prices to choose from or if the extension can’t find it. Shoptagr on the other hand isn’t quite there yet, leaving shoppers potentially frustrated with an error message that reads: Oh no, too many products on this page! Please select a page with one prodcut(sic) only.
Hope you didn’t actually want to track that item. (To be fair, Shoptagr does notice when you’ve encountered problems and notifies you with a friendly email when the issue is resolved.)
Another drawback is Shoptagr currently only offers a bookmarklet. Friedman says this was a strategic decision, because bookmarklets work on every browser and he and Yuval-Hoch thought it more important to tap into the market as quickly as possible. But bookmarklets tend to have a lower conversion rate than extensions and they’re not as sophisticated in their capabilities, so that’s potentially bad for business.
At any rate, this shouldn’t be a problem for long, since they’re working on building extensions for every browser. First up will be a Chrome extension. And better yet, Friedman says there are plans to launch an iPhone app, given their “very strong vision for mobile commerce.”
That said, Shoptagr should probably take a hint from Hukkster and continue to offer its bookmarklet even after launching extensions and mobile apps.
Why? Because extensions run in the background even when you’re not using them, using up memory and slowing your browser down. Bookmarklets, on the other hand, wait on your browser’s bookmarks toolbar, doing nothing until clicked. Many online shoppers may already have several extensions on their browser already and may prefer the simpler bookmarklet to an extension.
And then there’s the data issue that’s inevitably raised when speaking of digital tools and platforms. Friedman says that Shoptagr has the “ability to extract large volumes of data, which will become very valuable in the future.” This is clearly a selling point for future and present retail partners who can benefit from insights into online shopper behavior. But some shoppers might be deterred by privacy concerns.
So there may be some kinks to work out and a lot of work left to do, but Shoptagr shows promise with a generally well-designed, user-friendly site and tool. Once it offers extensions and mobile apps and expands its list of supported sites, it should be better able to compete with more established tools.
Shoptagr’s public beta version officially launched in April 2014 and now has a few thousand users who have tracked thousands of items and receive hundreds of personalized sale alerts every day.
Not bad for only a few months post-launch.
And it seems even more promising when considering Shoptagr’s business model consists of partnering with major retailers and charging an affiliate fee on every purchase made through the platform. Friedmans says the affiliate fee tends to be around 8% on average, so that they “basically have (had) a working business from day one”.
But before it fully launches, Shoptagr wants to have the sales feed it’s developing to be up and running. Then, once they’re out of beta, Friedman believes that “Shoptagr will be the place where you discover and buy the latest discounted items from around the web within fashion, home décor, accessories and design, right as they happen according to your own specifications, making the experience personal and relevant.”