With three billion consumer emails in the world by 2014 and 27 trillion shopping-related emails sent to those users a year by 2014 as well, the Sift app for iPad aims to solve the problem of email overload. Launching today, the app creates a visual representation of emails containing product releases, special offers and social recommendations.
“What we do is we take a really mundane and boring experience, which is all the shopping emails that you get in your inbox, and turn it into something that is unexpectedly beautiful, fun, interesting and social,” says Saurin Shah, Sift co-founder and CEO.
Users can sign up for Sift using their email or Facebook accounts. In less than a minute after registering Sift will start detecting a user’s shopping preferences based on their email inbox and automatically re-format the content from their favorite brands into one place. Users can then make purchases from a store’s web page without leaving the app.
Sift features a personalized sales feed that’s sorted by an algorithm based on a user’s shopping and social activities, a popular feed to browse stores by category and a My Shops tab that visually lists all the stores a user follows. There’s also a search functionality and a social feed displaying the activity of friends such as sales they saved or shared and stores they follow.
Sift currently has more than 3,000 stores on board including major retailers like Gap, JCPenny, Banana Republic, Best Buy, Fry’s Electronics and more. Users can even choose stores they aren’t subscribed to via email through the app. Shah says they are doubling the amount of stores in the next couple of months.
The technology from the app can be credited toward Sift co-founder and CTO Ajay Subramanian, a technologist and former VMware software engineer, who built a technology platform that pulls the emails from a user’s inbox and matches them against the data from the more than 3,000 stores in Sift’s system. The app also monitors a person’s inbox and automatically adds new emails from the stores they shop at into Sift’s system.
Shah says some apps that are similar to Sift include clothing curation app Monogram and outfit sharing app Pose, but he adds that Sift is not about just inspirational shopping.
“We joke about this internally,” he says. “We talk about about building the Zynga for shopping in terms of broad reach. It’s an app that everyone can use.”
Sift monetizes similarly to other shopping apps that aggregate hundreds of stores by taking a small piece of the transactions from the merchants made through the app.
The company is currently working on a web-based HTML5 version of Sift that will work on smartphones such as the iPhone and Android, but they currently have no plans for a native smartphone app.
Shah could not disclose funding for the app, but adds that they will share that information sometime in the future.