Feature Friday: Mobile Shopping

It's Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. But you don't have to get crushed by the crowds stampeding the doors in order to participate in this shopping crazed day.

You can take out your mobile phone and do your holiday shopping while you are sitting in the park, on the beach, or by the pool.

Consider the new Etsy iPhone app, for example. Download it to your iPhone and shop away.

Etsy iphone

The treasury lists make a great way to shop on mobile. Here's a treasury called "Merry X-mas for him"

Etsy treasury

And if you find something you like, you can purchase it right on your phone:

Etsy checkout

So if you want to participate in Black Friday mania from the comfort of your couch watching football games, try shopping on your mobile phone. It works nicely and you aren't likely to get trampled.


Comments (Archived):

  1. David Noël

    And most importantly of all; if you buy from Etsy, you buy hand-made things — edited, sorry —

    1. Vineeth Kariappa

      What is wrong with you?

    2. Rohan

      Woho David…Many people from the ‘other side of the planet’, present here they are.Offensive, this could be.

      1. David Noël

        Whoops, posted that thought too fast. Wasn’t my intention to offend anyone, sorry if you felt that way. My intention was to celebrate things made with love on a day like today in an economy like today.(I am, by the way, also on the other side of the planet.)

        1. Mark Essel

          Man how many other sides of the planet are there?I missed the offense, but I assume it was vicious for you to edit.

        2. Rohan

          All good, David. 🙂 The biggest difficulty with writing is that intent is always very hard to communicate. I’ve had misunderstandings in the past as well. And I take this as one of them. This other side business is always unclear and, I guess, as a result best left unsaid. Happens to the best of us. Let’s move on. 🙂

          1. David Noël

            Right on 🙂

    3. fredwilson


    4. JeremyBrown437

      Maybe. They also sell ‘supplies’ and ‘vintage’, which are not handmade in Etsy terms.Then, there’s the fact that most of the ‘handmade’ items are just a few steps away from the mass produced components they are produced from. There are some true artists on Etsy, and some skilled crafters – then there are people who just buy clip art, print it on a book page and talk big. Caveat emptor.

      1. fredwilson

        yes, but Etsy lets you search for handmade items. in that case, they take out all the non handmade stuffover time i hope etsy opens up to more artisans who are not doing exactly handmade stuff

  2. William Mougayar

    I’m curious…are similar Black Friday “deals” available on mobile as in retail? And what would be the equivalent of door crashers- short term deals? Probably lots of online merchandising opportunities.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Yes, William, there are amazing online deals!  And some retailers started the sale on Wednesday and continue through the weekend. (Edit: I’m thinking online in general and not mobile in particular.)So, unless someone actually enjoys the madness and fury, there is no reason to leave the house on Black Friday.  Personally, can’t think of much worse.(BTW, saw your comment about pecan pie after it was demolished.)

      1. William Mougayar

        I was going to say that the pecan pie would have been another reason for staying home.Actually, Canadian retailers also have started their bargains early this year, in sympathy with the US Black Friday start.

        1. JamesHRH

          Wm – this is a fun one. It’s like cross border retailers just went ‘seriously, like they care if it’s US Thanksgiving ….it’s 40% off!’.Deals trump culture I guess.

  3. Rohan

    Nice. 🙂 A friday funny quote from me..The economy is so bad, I saw 4 CEO s playing miniature golf.Happy Friday! 😀

  4. Brad

    Did you know that only 6% of retail is done online in the USA? Did you know that for every big box there are nine independent retailers? I love that etsy supports small crafters, we need more of this.

    1. ShanaC

      I did not know this. Do you think that more retail will move online?

      1. Brad

        I think that instant gratification will not go away. This is something the Internet can not deliver. The problem I have is the focus that we have on the big boxes. Black Friday is really tough for independent businesses and the small entrepreneur to participate in.Question for you, do you enjoy shopping with friends or sitting at home ordering online? For most people shopping is as much social as it is neccesarry.

        1. ShanaC

          Depends on the friend. I don’t always like the extra judgement interfering with my sense of taste. Actually, I don’t think I’ve been shopping recently with any of my close female friends (though one in Chicago and I have been trading idealized shoe purchases online)

        2. Sonia

          On instant gratification — I think best-in-class etailers are getting close to delivering this with things like Amazon’s free, fast PRIME 2-day shipping. In some cities (where Amazon offers it’s grocery service) you can even get same day delivery of certain items.Amazon’s recent acquisitions (Zappos, Quidsi) also offer extremely fast shipping. Zappos is known to frequently upgrade orders to 1-day or overnight shipping.On social validation for purchases — I find that it’s actually more effective for me to send a link to an item to a friend to get feedback vs.  drag a friend along on a shopping trip.The one category of items that I’m hesitant to shift to purchasing online is clothing when I don’t know the brand. (Need to try the item on to determine fit.) Even though some retailers are moving to better (free) return policies, I don’t want to be bothered with the hassle of returns.Other than that online shopping is quickly meeting more and more of my needs! 

  5. awaldstein

    Makes me think about payment and trusted brands. I tend to buy from my mobile with services I have direct accounts with.Rarely with Paypal or other intermediaries. It’s a trust thing for me.Amazon for everything from books to herbal supplements. Apple. Bunch of online wine vendors and a handful of others. I want to buy from brands I trust and part of that trust is that they are the arbiter of disputes.

  6. Rohan

    And, on a completely different note, we had a mini AVC meet up over lunch today – @trishburgess:disqus  and I. More to follow from AVC’s London branch.. 🙂

    1. Mark Essel


      1. Rohan


    2. Donna Brewington White

      Really nice, Rohan.  Thanks for sharing.

      1. Rohan

        Look forward to when we meet! 😀

    3. Tom Labus

      That’s pretty cool.

    4. Trish Burgess-Curran

      It was great to have the chance to meet up with Rohan!  Looking forward to meeting other London AVCers 🙂

  7. RichardF

    shopping for anything on a mobile even on a screen the size of the Galaxy is a big turn off for me unless it’s a digital download.  This is where tablets come into their own.

  8. jarid

    >> It works nicely and you aren’t likely to get trampled.Or pepper-sprayed.

  9. Fernando Gutierrez

    Is that an iPhone what you have in your hand? universe is about to collapse

    1. RichardF


    2. fredwilson

      my wife’sthough she’s threatening to go back to androidshe misses the google mail and calendar apps on android

      1. leigh

        someone put the google calendar on my iphone for me so it appears as an app and it’s great.  that only took me 3 months to figure out.  

        1. William Mougayar

          Yup. It syncs up with ur desktop perfectly like email does with server. Why is Gmail on Android better than iPhone?

          1. testtest

            google uses the SPDY (pronounced speedy) protocol for their web services — it’s more efficient than vanilla HTTP.and i assume the apps are integrated better.

          2. William Mougayar

            What does this mean for the user?

          3. testtest

            What does this mean for the user?scrap that. i couldn’t find anything to say that it’s used in google applications on android. i just assumed it was as it’s used with a ton of google services on the web (when using chrome)as a side:- up to 2x page load speeds- amazon silk uses it with EC2- helps a ton with latency

      2. testtest

        the platform with the most, biggest, and best anchors to the web will win. otherwise what’s the point of having a smart phone?

    3. kidmercury

      not just an iphone……but at&t as the carrier too! *gasp*as an anti-apple fanboy i am enjoying the new samsung commercials:http://www.youtube.com/watc

      1. RichardF

        so funny and so true!

    4. K_Berger

      I was thinking the same thing.  :)I finally switched to Android from Blackberry.  Happy, except it’s a little big and I don’t see a top-line phone that isn’t.  Every time I get a call at home my kids make fun of my “tablet-phone”.  I have the Sprint version of the Samsung Galaxy S2.  I think 4 inches is a more manageable size screen than the 4.5″ on this one.



    1. fredwilson

      so true

    2. ShanaC

      So agree.

    3. LE

      Assuming you mean “buy less stuff” it could be an interesting thing  next year to start a movement that offers that idea instead of the status quo and makes it acceptable behavior. In the mean time remember what Al Capone said: “you get more with a smile and a gun then with a smile alone”.

  11. raleigh1985

    My girlfriend mentioned she saw an integration into the Pinterest app for a shopping feature w/Etsy. Pinterest would be a gold mine for marketing for retailers trying to connect with the female shopper.

  12. Brian Manning

    Looks like a cool app.But to truly get the masses to do their holiday shopping online, merchants need to find ways to reduce or eliminate those shipping costs.  Even in the example you’re showing, the shipping costs are adding a near 30% premium on top of the item (though it looks this is coming from overseas).The New York Times just reported that Wal-mart is now offering free shipping on its website, with no minimums.  Very smart move.Savvy online shoppers can usually find a better deal than what can be found in stores, but it seems to me that a 10% to 30% premium in the form of shipping costs for small gifts is enough to get most people off their couches and into the stores…

    1. Mordy Kaplinsky

      Brian,The current cost structure does not allow for it.  If ecommerce costs to accept payment is reduced, the possibility exists for merchants to lower the free shipping threshold, otherwise the economics simply don’t justify it.

      1. Brian Manning

        I’m seeing more and more merchants offering free shipping.  Though you’re right that for many merchants the economics of free shipping doesn’t work in the long term.  My only point is that if we’re going to see a real shift to online commerce (depending on who you ask, online commerce is still only ~6% of global retail) that shipping premium needs come down.  I’m optimistic that it will over time.

        1. Mordy Kaplinsky

          I think the threshold to trigger free shipping can be reduced but not eliminated.  Take Amazon as an example, where at the moment that trigger is at 25 dollars whereas if that trigger can be lowered to 10-20 dollars you can achieve the benefits you discussed, but the offering of free shipping for a sub 10 dollar order is something that I don’t believe will ever happen.

  13. LE

    It would be nice if Etsy had some kind of video chat  concierge service that would help when you don’t know what to buy for the person that you are looking for. As a man you can never make a mistake buying something expensive for a woman but it’s not immediately obvious what to buy if you don’t want to get, say, expensive jewelry. The “chat helpers” could be available by sex and age range (for example if you wanted something for your 16 year old daughter the concierge would be someone in that age group and if for your mother someone in that age group.) This could be “crowd sourced help” with benefits. The benefits would either be karma or commission. While you could do this also by search or categories,  it’s not going to work as well or instill confidence in buyers. A concierge approach is the ultimate “don’t make me think” solution to the problem.

    1. ShanaC

      Disagree, doesn’t scale well. Now if Etsy bought Hunch….

      1. LE

        What part of people (who make money helping people)  doesn’t scale well?What about wikipedians or about.com guides. What about associate programs where people place links on their site and earn money? What about http://ohours.org/ ? What about stackexchange.com? What about quora? All involve many people and some kind of hub where they interact.If the issue is that people won’t help for free because a merchant will make money that can be designed around. It’s certainly not a technology issue. The idea isn’t to replace etsy but add a feature to increase sales.Men don’t like to shop.http://knowledge.wharton.up

        1. daryn

          I agree, people can actually scale pretty well if you remove the barrier of recruitment and onboarding. For Etsy video concierges, that means that rather than hiring concierges, they might create a feature where anyone can register as a concierge, and sit online waiting for people who need their help. Just like sellers, the concierges could have profiles, ratings, etc. Their payment could be a standard affiliate cut on any sales they generate. Does anyone know of any good personal shopper services online now (not tied to a single marketplace?)

          1. LE

            “sit online waiting for people who need their help””Dave needs help with a gift for his girlfriend” [suggest][vchat][email][text]Exactly. A scrolling ticker of people needing help. A ticker of people offering help. Even sellers, if online and identified as such, could offer help. A dynamic window where the person helping could show choices without the person being helped having to click on a link to see the choices. A ticker showing recent purchases and the demographics of the person who the gift was purchased for….

          2. ShanaC

            The closest I’ve personally seen is pickle by food52. That seems to be bit of a different category than real personal shopping. Other than that, nope.

        2. ShanaC

          Most of these services have more men than women. I think an internal affiliate program would work.My issue is as follows: I’ve found that there are very few people with exquisite taste,vans those with it tend to be paid generously for it. And in the end, the internet has got to be paid. Including its tastemakers.

      2. jason wright

        Etsy buy Hunch? I get the feeling that Ebay placed a custom order with its VC contacts to launch Hunch. Some dice are loaded.There’s a very long list of acquisitions by MAFAG in the last several years that appear to then go nowhere. I stress ‘appear’ because some of these acquisitions may not be quite what they seem.  

        1. leigh

          hum…..did not know that but makes perfect sense.  ebay better do something 🙂

  14. laurie kalmanson

    there are so many opportunities for delight, online and mobilethe zappos kitten who flies by holding an umbrella to escort items to your cart accomplishes the heuristic of informing the user about status while making you lol

  15. William Mougayar

    I guess when you’re in LA & there’s a shopping related shooting & pepper-spraying, mobile shopping is also a safer alternative 🙂

  16. leeschneider

    I’ve been feeling that the mobile shopping lacks the same experience as the full-blown web experience. Ebay on the iPad strikes me as an exception.  The Etsy app looks like it might be an exception too. But why app vs. mobile web?Our mobile site for bgreenlifestyle.com is fair, and it’s not something we’re currently devoting any time to, as we don’t see a lot of users coming in via mobile.  Our e-commerce host, Network Solutions, provides the mobile software, so it saves us from having to do it on our own.  The downside?  No real control over the experience.

  17. Neal7799

    I like to thing about mobile as an extension of your web (and I thing there is a big different between mobile and tablets). Where the real questions that need to be addressed are:1. Why should people download the app? 2. After the app is up and running, what make people use it and not forget it after installation? (trigger mechanism – questions of when, where and how)3. Viral – how to make more people talk about the app and send it to friends?For the specific Etsy case (my POV):1. The big question – the website is not bad, however, still needs some html5 adaptation to make it more slick – the category part is awful and looks out of date. The app itself looks nice but still don’t know why should I download it – need more reason(Anyway, Fred, I would like to know your point of view regarding apps vs html5 – are we going backward it like 1999- downloading application to your computer -where in most cases html5 might be good enough and the app is only a shortcut on your desktop2. Etsy has started something nice – social buying – so it can trigger the application in few situation:a. When a friend’s birthdayb. Event driven – holidays, might connect to your schedule and semantically understand if you got events like wedding, baby shower ,bar-mitzvah, etc.3. Viral – make gift sharing – so you can buy a friend a gift with other friends – it will trigger the application* Side note @bcmanning:disqus – I think you are right about shipping cost (hope it is not a big part of the biz model of the e-commerce sites) – But I would like to have a solution where a customer can send what she bought to a certain address of a near by address. So every week or so the products that were bought will be send to one address and the cost of shipping will be divided by the senders. 

    1. Mordy Kaplinsky

      On your last point responding to @Brian Manning this is actually a benefit that brick and mortar stores have over pure ecommerce plays which they have squandered by not incorporating it into their business offering.  I actually explored doing this for grocery shopping in the early days of the web where the order is delivered to a local grocery store, gas station, etc. which is kind of a hybrid of FreshDirect and the brick and mortar benefit you mentioned.

  18. Brandon Burns

    just noticing that you seem to have a stable of usv portfolio companies that you like to reference, with etsy and foursquare getting the most mentions (at least recently). twilio, covestor, flurry, edmodo… where’s their love?! 

    1. Aaron Klein

      You gotta produce something killer cool if you want to make feature friday.

    2. ShanaC

      covestor pivoted into hashable.  edomo, twilio, and flurry are more b2b plays, and are harder to write about a feature that most people care about.

      1. fredwilson

        Covestor didnt pivot. Still doing the same thing we invested in.

        1. ShanaC

          i knew that. (i promise)

  19. daryn

    Gilt City has an interesting Black Friday promotion today:  special deals only available from their mobile app (not on the website). Good way to get installs…p.s. The Etsy app looks pretty slick!

  20. ShanaC

    One of the ideas I never see discussed is the phone as a site for (high value) non virtual good impulse purchases. It is always in context of comparison shopping. Whoever hacks the impulse buy on non wallet form is probably going to make some serious money.

    1. Brian Manning

      Great point, if someone can do that well it’ll be huge.  But impulse purchasing might be one of those things that doesn’t translate well to the web.  I’ve seen this with other shopping behaviors; i.e. is the impulse caused by seeing a good price (on your phone) at the right time or seeing the actual item itself at the right time (while standing in line)?

      1. ShanaC

        I personally never got why, particularly with my age group, that impulse shopping never did well on the web.  To me this seems like a pure design problem, not a technology problem.

  21. William Mougayar

    Did you see the latest TC headline:eBay: PayPal Mobile Payment Volume Up Over 500 Percent On Thanksgiving Dayhttp://techcrunch.com/2011/…

    1. fredwilson

      Etsy uses paypal. The power of a post on AVC 😉

      1. William Mougayar

        Nice. I like the power of that power 🙂

  22. Tereza

    We’ve been pulling together — and continue to — a list of awesome gift ideas from women-led companies.If you’re looking for ideas for any ladies in your life, give it a look and get shopping!40 selected here, but hundreds more being added.http://news.honestlynow.com

    1. RichardF

      nice one Tereza

    2. leigh

      done and shared.  

  23. Tereza

    OK — want a killer holiday app?My nephews downloaded one called “Naughty…or Nice?” supposedly hooked up to the North pole toy factory.You take a photo of someone and it ‘scans’ the person to say if they’ve been naughty or nice.The kids are going apesh*t over this as we speak.Apparently, I’m nice. Which is proof positive that the developer didn’t know

  24. Donata Cappelli

    crazy shopping?? with 9% unemployment rate in the US?? and I don’t want to speak about Europe.. http://www.nytimes.com/2011…

  25. gregorylent

    the people running america (into the ground) have NOTHING to fear from #blackfriday shoppers .. even mobile ones. sheep.

  26. Tom Labus

    Our “Black Friday” remedy.We get up early pack some turkey sandwiches and head for where go in the summer (small lake). Yesterday it worked real well weather wise and we spent the afternoon on the beach.  No one was pepper sprayed. 

  27. Peter Mullen

    Fred, what are you doing with the iPhone? I thought you were an Android convert?

    1. fredwilson

      Thats my wife’s iphone

      1. William Mougayar

        I remember when you tweeted “at store getting an Android for my wife”. What’s the story behind Joanne going to iPhone now?

        1. fredwilson

          Shes playing the field. Looking for the best option for her

  28. ShanaC

    It may be q function of Christmas being an even bigger deal family-wise in the US.

  29. Donna Brewington White

    I’m with you, Charlie.  

  30. Mordy Kaplinsky

    @ccrystle:disqus after spending an entire meal with family people will do anything to escape 😐

  31. LE

    Black Friday is a media creation and in a sense a regressive tax that ends up helping the economy.  (A similar thing happens with the super bowl as anyone who is in a supermarket on or around game day can attest to.) It’s good for me since it brings down the price of products that I might want to buy by increasing the quantity sold. The local supermarket offers lobster at 3.99/lb on Black Friday as only one example. (That’s actually a loss leader but you get the point). So I try to think of that when getting annoyed at all the hoopla. The festive nature of course creates a situation whereby people end up buying more things than they would buy by default as a result of the energy floating around from the social proof.As someone who doesn’t celebrate the holiday that creates the majority of the black friday purchases (and saves considerable money as a result) one thing is clear. There are people spending much to large of a portion of their income on gifts that shouldn’t be spending borrowed money (at credit card interest rates) to buy a tie for their uncle or a roomful of toys for their kids. These are the same people that many times live paycheck to paycheck and end up being a burden on society when they loose their jobs since they are in debt and have no savings. 

  32. Tereza

    We were eating w my sis-in-law’s bro-in-law yesterday who is a Virginia state trooper. He was telling us how Thxgiving and Xmas consistently deliver spikes in police + ambulance calls.Family’s together, alcohol, finally commenting on what they *really* think, fists fly. An American tradition!

  33. Aaron Klein

    I’m not a fan of the Black Friday consumption craze but I have to tell you, I can’t buy this line of thinking about marketing as a “regressive tax.”If it’s true that we’re all so weak minded that any stupid MBA can, through a clever deal, force us to get up off our couches and hand him our money, then we’re in way more trouble than I thought.We need to start holding people responsible for their choices, not paint them as victims. No one put a gun to their heads and forced them to trample fellow humans in the pursuit of saving a buck.

  34. LE

    “We need to start holding people responsible for their choices”I wish that could be done but it can’t once the problem becomes to big to fail or to many people are affected. The chance of holding people responsible  greatly diminished as the amount of people affected grows.There is an old saying:If you can’t pay the bank back $10,000 you have a problem.If you can’t pay the bank back $10,000,000 the bank has a problem. (The saying needs to be updated relative to governments having a problem when banks get to large of course..)

  35. Aaron Klein

    There’s no way for an economy to function unless people are responsible for their choices.That is ESPECIALLY true of Wall Street bankers and ignoring that principle is a big part of the reason we’re in this mess.

  36. RichardF

    My sister in law is a detective specialising in serious crime, she is particularly busy at Christmas and New Year investigating domestic murders.  It’s not just an American tradition!

  37. Tereza