More venture capital cash is flooding into mobile commerce today with the announcement of a $25 million funding round for the shopping app Spring. We're hearing the company's valuation was around $90 million.
Founded by venture capitalist David Tisch as a easier way to shop for brands using your mobile phone, Spring raised new cash from Tisch’s investment fund BoxGroup, Russian investor Yuri Milner, Google Ventures, celebrity Ashton Kutcher’s Sound Ventures, Josh Kushner’s Thrive Capital, and Groupe Arnault, the investment firm controlled by LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault.
Mobile shopping behavior nearly tripled last year, according to Yahoo-owned mobile analytics company Flurry. This surge of activity means more brands are looking for ways to engage potential buyers outside of their own mobile apps and websites. Twitter (twtr) recently launched a “buy” button to allow users to make purchases via the social network. Facebook (fb) and Pinterest are also reportedly launching similar buttons.
Spring launched last year as a sort of shopping mall for your iPhone, with an emphasis on allowing each retail brand to control their own customer's experience within the app. Brands are able to choose which items they wanted to sell on Spring and how those items are presented within the app.
For all brands, Spring's simplified interface makes it extremely easy for a user to buy an item. Once a shopper’s credit card and shipping information is added, a user can swipe any image to buy an item. Personalization is also a key part of the app’s experience, and a user is prompted to follow brands and fashion bloggers or access designers' curated collections.
Since launching in fall 2014, Spring has accumulated more than 700 brands on the app, including Helmut Lang, Marchesa, Alice and Olivia, Levi’s, Citizens of Humanity, and Rebecca Minkoff. Many designers say Spring was their first presence in direct to consumer e-commerce. (Spring’s revenue comes through a per-order transaction fee for brands.)
In conjunction with Thursday's funding news, Spring will also make its debut on Google Android-based phones with a native app. Vendors will be able to make all of their inventory available within the app and integrate with e-commerce platforms such as Shopify and Magento. Tisch says the company will soon offer same-day delivery and has plans to expand to the desktop.
There's nothing new about an online shopping mall; consider Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba (baba), whose online shopping mall, Tmall, has seen success and has been able to recruit brands like Estée Lauder and Burberry to open online shops. But Spring's belief is that a more brand-centric experience will help it stand out.