The Co.Labs and Target Retail Accelerator challenged entrants to design and build an app that would extend the Target customer experience into new areas, leveraging mobile software--native or web-based--to produce new and pro-social effects in their community, family, school, or social network. Our celebrity judges have selected their finalists, who each received $10,000 seed money and a Target mentor for the next stage--competing for a $75,000 buyout grand prize. Here we're breaking down each of the finalists: The goal of their apps, the use cases, the clever twists, the potential roadblocks, and (of course) the reasons they advanced to the next round. Keep your fingers crossed for the entrants, who get judged this week; we'll announce the grand prize winner on June 27th.
Why would Target shoppers want Divvy? This social social shopping list is attacking a nuanced problem: How to make group shopping with an app easier than without one. Real-life obstacles to group shopping--such as splitting the bill, getting a copy of the receipt, transaction history, earning rewards points, and so on--those are the territory of this beautifully designed app. Furthermore, it solves what we will call the "Mint problem," which refers to the necessity to manually track items you buy inside personal finance apps like Mint, which only receive basic information about your purchase (outlet and price) from the credit card processor, making categorizing purchases an excercise in data entry. Team Pilot is comprised of James Skidmore, Chris Kief, Christopher Reardon, Eric Kopicki, Steve White, Juuso Myllyrinne, and Charlton Roberts.
Divvy's reason for being is to remove all the minor inconveniences and/or deal-breakers from group shopping. The goal here is humble enough: Make group shopping practical and rewarding enough that people will actually do it. The upshot is obvious: Less trips to the store, less time wasted shopping, and a more transparent budget/expenditure situation for your family, group, or team. Secondarily, Divvy makes sure that users don't lose out on any of the perks of shopping solo. They still get their receipt, they still can connect their purchase history to a Mint account, they can still accrue rewards points on purchases, and they can still have easy access to repurchasing items quickly, as they would on their own discrete Target.com account.
One of the beauties of this app is the flexibilty. Group buying is organized smartly around shopping lists, not permanent user groups, making it easy to make ad-hoc groups and generally be more dynamic about the use cases. One use case: A family is out and about doing their daily activities, and one family member decides to take a trip to Target. He or she can add family members to the shopping list, allowing them to contribute items; just as easily, the user could add a friend or neighbor, without having to permanently add them to any kind of closed user group. The family member taking the trip to Target collects and buys the items, and the other family members or neighbors can settle up in-app, right away, along with reciving a copy of the itemized receipt and appropriately distributed rewards points.
Divvy was one of the best developed concepts we received, and one notable twist was a well-placed invitation system which uses email as a call to action to download the app and participate in shopping lists. Few if any of the other apps had such a well-considered distribution strategy. Other impressive features include the use of QR codes, which the app uses for returns and discounts, as well as small visual details, like the perforated edges along the perimeter of the table cells in certain list views.
While we received a variety of shopping-list app proposals, this one was the best implementation, according to our judges. Several of them suggested there is even more potential here for features than the team included, which alludes to the fact that this team knows how to build an MVP without getting carried away with excessive features (even though options abound). Their mockups and their team roster show they can apparently execute well on their designs. Another nice feature of their entry: clear descriptions of functionality and features. "A Divvy member is a friend that has accepted your invitation to join your Divvy [shopping] list," the opening slide of their walkthrough declares. That's the kind of clarity you need when presenting a new concept to users, and we hope it comes through in the final app.
Some judges were skeptical that, despite the clearly well-designed and well-considered execution here, that in real life this app just wouldn't hold up to everyday use. People are already fairly set in their ways, and it just may be that a paper list or ad-hoc text message exchange can take care of this problem for all but the most avid Target shoppers.