"Shopcastr gives you x-ray vision into a store", was the one-liner that stayed with me after Matt O’Leary’s gripping presentation at the recent Sprouter event in Downtown Toronto.
I live and breathe the tech startup scene. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that I work for the poster child startup company of Toronto. The US of A tends to have the most compelling numbers of successful and innovative startups, mainly focused in the west coast for obvious reasons. However, it’s been really great to see little communities of startups evolve in other places. DC, Seattle, New York are just a few examples. Toronto is slowly getting there; Sprouter being one of the biggest catalysts for it.
Shopcastr is a beautiful, electronic shopping catalog of merchandise from stores in your area. Despite the name alluding to shopping - this isn’t Etsy or eBay. You’re not on Shopcastr to shop online, you’re on Shopcastr to take a look at what stores around you have to offer. They’re all about local businesses and relationships with people - so the people behind Shopcastr actually want you to go to the store and buy the item in person.
The founder, Matt O’Leary, is (and I’m proud to report it) a User Experience Designer. This might be the reason behind the gorgeous flow of items, the simplicity of the placement of information, the visual grids (of course, I might just be biased). It just exudes flow. Which is great to see.
You can “love” things on here that will show up on your profile and you can go look at an item and then look at what the entire store’s catalog looks like. You can even filter it by neighborhood. Want a backpack but don’t want to walk more than a mile from your house on a cold February morning? You don’t have to!
I’m a fairly new user of the site, so I’m still feeling my way around it. But I have a couple of suggestions (some of which Shopcastr has acknowledged already). One of which is to include addresses in the sidebar when viewing an item. For e.g., looking at the picture below, it’s not immediately obvious where I have to go to see the store’s catalog. Hint: You click on the header.
This is Shopcastr’s response to my suggestion tweet:
There are two ways to use Shopcastr: as a shopper or as a shop.
They also have a mobile app (of course!). When you download it and start it up, however, it asks you to login or sign up. And since I downloaded the app right after Matt’s talk, I didn’t have an account. So I decided to sign up. Which gave me this screen:
It’s great that Shopcastr wants to make uploading a shop’s catalog easy enough to do via mobile, but my guess is, if I’m a shop owner - I’m probably using the web to upload a large collection of photos. Regardless, it would be nice to be given an option to sign up as a shopper on the mobile app.
Overall, the site is not just a pretty face, it’s useful too! I’ve found my dream backpack. Will be stopping by Sweet Pete’s later tonight to pick it up.
Most importantly, show Shopcastr some Toronto community love. Check out shopcastr.com, read their blog, follow them on Twitter, or download their mobile app to discover your local stores!