Haggerston Times Fashion Writer Abi Buller talks to one of the co-founders of Knomi, Hans-Christian Zappel, about their recently launched e-commerce and social networking application. Knomi is a social fashion discovery app which allows users to curate profiles based on their own style choices, as well as sharing and interacting with others about the latest trends.
Having come from an entrepreneurial family background, it was always likely that Hans Christian Zappel would at some point become a company founder. Together with co-founder Markus Ehrnrooth, he has identified a gap in the market for a new shopping app. This is where the story of KNOMI unfolds, a fashion app that integrates social interaction into the online shopping sphere.
When asked for the motivation behind their company, Hans explained that whilst both online and offline retail exist independently, they are very much a part of the same world. Their initial reaction to this was therefore to work directly with 20 stores across London. After reviewing this instore experience, the founders decided to rethink their proposition in 2014. With supporting funders onboard with their idea, they began to reconsider the shopping experience as being driven from the customer journey, therefore creating a more personal and social mobile app. After completing an extensive research phase involving around 2000 participants, they were able to identify how they would be able to work with their customer’s desires.
Of course it is not news to any customer, particularly those with a keen interest in fashion, that today’s shopping experience no longer begins and ends with entering and leaving a store. It is instead more long-lasting; one that becomes synced with the rest of our lives. Instead of product specific shopping, in response to wardrobe demand, we are in a generation where browsing is much more of a common activity.
We can now be connected to brands and retailers via the internet, and find ourselves flicking through products on mobile retail sites, or even a brand or blogger profile on Instagram, and be thinking about our next potential purchase. The ease with which we can now view and purchase products does however come with its limitations, as we lose the tactility of product discovery, as well as the social interaction associated with the shopping experience.
Therefore, upon considering the space for KNOMI in the retail sector, the founders discovered that these issues are particularly prevalent in relation to high-end products. The research phase allowed them to identify the sense of memory and sentimental value associated with in-store purchases, as opposed to products bought online. Similarly, customers are less likely to take product risks with online purchases, as well as avoiding buying multiple copies of the same piece in order to try for size, before sending back. These issues are of course non-existent when shopping in store, and there is the added motivation of sales advisory support, as well as potential trusted shopping partners.
Furthering these ideas, Hans considered the company’s USP through three main factors: ‘”the app is really social’’, “it identifies with users both online and offline’’ and KNOMI is, “For you, By you’’. These motives were solidified throughout the discussion, as the theme of socialisation seemed to recur as to what will really make KNOMI flourish in the shopping spectrum. This idea is translated through the innovative branding “KNOMI” (as in, ‘Know Me’), as well as the social media hashtag ‘gettoknomi’.
These ideas help to explain the app’s function, as each individual’s profile will ideally be representative of their personal style aspirations. The ability to collect and archive potential purchases, also runs in conjunction with blogger, magazine and celebrity profiles who will likely provide inspiration for their followers. Similarly, retailer’s profiles will arrange their KNOMI profiles in a way in which best represents their products.
Upon using the app, it is very apparent as to why KNOMI brand themselves as a ‘personal shopping assistant’, with the ability to directly share products with friends, including a message such as; ‘Should I get this?, ‘You could like this!’, or your own personal description. It is these functions, which are likely to decrease the chances of ‘bad purchases’ familiar to the ecommerce experience, and to minimize the need to return products. Similarly, until now, it has become very common to send screen grabs or web links to products of interest to friends across social networking platforms. However, this process can get confusing, as images often get lost in the networking chain, with the inability to share with more than one person at the same time. The idea of ‘social shopping’ through KNOMI allows these issues to disappear, as this function becomes part of the smooth process of ‘new generation fashion discovery’.
The initial KNOMI launch introduces the social fashion discovery aspect, before online/offline features are later added. User interaction elements will also be added, such as a map feature with a ‘nearby’ function that will send relevant push notifications depending on a customer’s location in relation to a store of interest based on their product preferences. This ‘intelligent’ function was created on the premise that it is likely you will forget about a product you liked a week ago, and enables the app to link to the physical store which carries that product once the user is in the store’s vicinity.
Through its simple and sleek design, KNOMI focuses on ‘product discovery made social’, and describing their concept through ‘incremental innovation’, KNOMI differentiates itself from the experience of solely online shopping.
The app will exist as an entirely new platform for the customer to identify with in parallel to the shops and brands they are already familiar with. The fashion industry is still very much in the process of developing and improving its systems in ecommerce, especially with consumer behaviour moving towards mobile, there is a clear need for progressive development.
The starting point for this development was to target the advantageous nature of ‘reverse showrooming’; a process where customers initially browse products online, before going to a physical store to actually make their purchase. It is in this field that KNOMI thrives and is able to join the dots between virtual and physical showrooms, in order to create a ‘seamless shopping experience’. With brands such as Belstaff, Paul Smith, FarFetch and Matchesfashion on board, and a collaboration with London’s Fashion Innovation Agency, KNOMI’s collection of over 400 (thousand) products is more than ready to get to know you.