Venture capital-funded Keep Holdings may be based in New York, but it professes a Silicon Valley start-up attitude: Create a great product, wow consumers, worry about making money later.
It potentially could strike gold with its new Keep Shopping app. The Apple iOS app, which debuted June 25, enables consumers to buy literally anything online with one touch. This eliminates the “friction” of repeatedly typing in shipping and payment data on a tiny screen, which historically has been the biggest hurdle in mobile shopping. And that certainly is on the right track for success in mobile commerce: One of the keys to mobile success for Amazon.com Inc., the second largest player in m-commerce according to the 2014 Internet Retailer Mobile 500, is the retailer’s patented 1-Click Checkout.
Since its debut June 25, the average order value for shoppers using the Keep Shopping app is $78.52, Mary Ann Bekkedahl, president and co-founder of Keep Holdings, tells Internet Retailer. Asked what has been the most expansive order to date, she says one customer placed an order for 27 items from 19 different retailers, all in one cart. Typical Keep Shopping orders have two to five items from a couple retailers, she adds.
To use Keep Shopping, a consumer registers her shipping and payment information with the app. The data is not stored in the app on her mobile device. Nor is it stored by Keep Holdings. Rather, Keep uses mobile payments specialist Braintree Payment Solutions LLC to securely store the data. When a user fills her cart and touches the Buy button, the order is placed with Keep, where a combination of automation and customer service personnel, called Go-Getters, buy the products from online retailers using Keep finances. Keep then aggregates the bills from all the retailers and charges the customer via Braintree. The customer’s credit card bill reads “Keep Holdings” with the single charge.
Consumers can download the app today and request use of the app’s OneCart feature. There is a waiting list to use the universal cart because Keep Holdings wants to make sure it provides excellent customer service to every user and that no one has a bad first experience with the app. The company is ramping up its customer service team quickly and says the waiting list will disappear in the next couple of weeks.
Keep Shopping looks like a fashion app and focuses sharply on women’s apparel and accessories and home décor. Its target demographic is women in their 20s and 30s. That’s because Keep Holdings believes to succeed in mobile commerce today, especially in the crowded field of mobile apps, a company needs a strong identity and because young women shop a lot.
“Women interested in the kinds of products showcased in the app and on Keep.com are the most avid buyers of spontaneous purchases and non-essentials,” Bekkedahl says. “Delight them and they will use the app to buy band-aids and snow blowers and whatever else they may need, and they will tell their family and friends how easy it is to shop the entire Internet from one app. If we can win just the women in their 20s and 30s, great. If they tell their husbands to check us out, even better.”
Keep Holdings has raised $43 million in venture capital from various investors. It makes affiliate marketing commissions on the sales it generates for retailers. The commissions range from 5-20%. But the company says affiliate marketing is not the way it plans to make money. When it gets past the start-up phase (dazzle consumers, don’t worry about making money), it says it will begin to monetize the app and is considering various methods, including a combination of commissions and retailer partnerships where merchants would, for example, pay to be featured, and possibly a user convenience fee. For the time being, Keep Shopping does not charge users any fees.
Keep Holdings built the Keep Shopping app in-house. Bekkedahl says it was quite difficult to find great Apple iOS developers in New York. She says Keep probably will add the universal cart feature to the Android app, but the company is in no hurry. That’s because when it comes to mobile commerce, Apple mobile device users are avid shoppers who shop often and spend a lot; Android mobile device users pale in comparison, she says.
“Android device owners’ use of shopping apps is abysmal,” Bekkedahl says.
Keep Holdings is considering adding the universal cart to its social shopping web site, Keep.com.
Follow Bill Siwicki, managing editor, mobile commerce, at Internet Retailer, at @IRmcommerce.