ShopRunner launched a new mobile app-based marketplace called District that features high-end products from more than 100 retailers and over 1,000 fashion and beauty brands, converged in a single-cart, fast checkout experience that also includes free two-day shipping and free returns, according to a press release e-mailed to Retail Dive.
District also claims to offer a personalized shopping experience, including a real-time product recommendation feed customized for each shopper, that is enabled by data collected during more than 1 billion shopping sessions, the press release stated.
The launch of District comes after ShopRunner last month acquired mobile shopping app Spring and raised an addition $40 million in funding.
Some reports on District’s launch have painted it as a mobile shopping app looking to offer an Amazon Prime-type of experience with free expedited shipping and free returns. It also is offering Amazon-like streamlined checkout, an increasingly important feature for all mobile shopping apps, as surveys continue to show that most online shoppers abandon their carts if checkout seems like a hassle.
But, Amazon comparisons aren’t all there is to District. The personalized experience, especially the real-time personalized product feed, is a fresh approach that the retailers and brands selling through District aren’t doing themselves--or can’t really do to the same scale and degree of product variety that ShopRunner can. "District allows shoppers to shop over a thousand apparel and beauty brands — such as Kate Spade, Neiman Marcus, Cole Haan — in one place," ShopRunner CEO Sam Yagan said in a statement.
For years, ShopRunner seemed to position itself as a two-day free shipping service for retailers, making its brief connection with customers one of several options on the checkout page, but now it’s clearly looking to expand. The company has had a busy month as it looks to boost its mobile shopping ambitions, with an acquisition that brought it more brand relationships and new funding that suggests more acquisition activity may be on the company’s agenda.
ShopRunner also counts Alibaba as one of its largest investors, with a stake that was estimated at around 40% several years ago. The Alibaba relationship, which got ShopRunner into the massive, lucrative Chinese market, has been looming intriguingly in the background of everything ShopRunner has done in recent years.
"District will give our retail partners access to potential new customers and put their brands front and center on consumers' most coveted real estate: their mobile phones," Shreena Amin, District's head of product, said in a statement.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the number of shopping sessions ShopRunner uses. The number is 1 billion.