Flip is a ‘shopping social network’ which could crack Gen Z
Those of us who purchase products on TikTok almost habitually have Trustpilot open in another tab. Can emerging ‘shopping social network’ Flip cut out the middleman by combining authentic video reviews and in-app ecommerce?
When you’ve a captive audience boasting $360bn in spending power but markedly declining attention spans, what do you do? You quite literally create a one-stop shop.
Meet Flip, the ‘social shopping network’ targeting Gen Z which is essentially billed as TikTok meets Sephora.
Upon downloading the app and ticking a few interests, you’re presented with a short-form video feed where creators advertise products that can be purchased there and then. The algorithm, meanwhile, will constantly tailor your feed to (hopefully) maximise your spending. Simple.
From a creator/seller point of view, those who post ads or reviews can monetise their content in multiple ways. Sales earnings tied to a video will see its creator pocket a decent percentage of the product’s price, while engagement retention is also rewarded — this is a social media platform, after all.
The Gen Z POV blog author, Meagan Lust, claimed that she recouped between 5% and 15% of product prices per sale, and between $15 to $25 per 1,000 unique viewers who watched for over 3 seconds.
Comparative to TikTok, where revenue is 2–4 cents per 1,000 unique views, Flip is far more lucrative — though view counts are likely to be lower, granted.
That’s not to say, however, that Flip is small-time. On the contrary, it was the fastest-growing shopping app on both iOS and Android last month and has been downloaded 3.6 million times globally.
Combined with a paid referral system, which provides sizable in-app credit sums for those who send out friend invites, Flip is also appealing to Gen Z’s penchant for authenticity and/or disdain for blatant paid endorsement.
Though users are obviously meant to scroll through endless videos of people trying to sell them things, paid and sponsored posts from brands are strictly prohibited. Five unnamed brands who crossed the line in that regard have already been kicked off the platform.
Third-party sellers are also barred, meaning users can only buy beauty and fashion items from US brands directly — of which 1,000 are listed, and 7,000 are slated to be by the end of 2023.
While it’s undoubtedly a risk to go up against TikTok directly, where users trust the creators they’re buying from and shopping is secondary to entertainment, on paper the app has a decent chance of sustained success if it plays its cards right.
Data shows that around 76% of Gen Z shoppers read customer reviews before making a first-time purchase online to discount scams and to gauge overall item quality. I personally have a Trustpilot shortcut immediately available on my Chrome account.
Given the cohort’s innate diligence, the premise of providing real reviews (not sponsored spiel) as an intrinsic part of an app’s shopping experience makes a lot of sense.
Nonetheless, Flip currently resides in a strange middle ground where it isn’t quite as entertaining as TikTok, nor as ‘gold standard’ as Amazon for product selection or delivery turnaround.
It also remains to be seen if such a hefty financial outlay in customer acquisition costs — aka offering generous in-app credit for invites — will be a sustainable in the long run.
Necessity is no longer the mother of invention, convenience is. But where does Flip reside on that scale?