Christmas shopping is so hard. There’s a lot of pressure to think of gifts for your loved ones that are thoughtful, practical, unique, and within your budget. This is especially so in Singapore, where the stores and choices we have are pretty limited.
Singapore-made app, SurpriseMe, wants to solve this issue. The Android-based app that just launched last weekend is a gift recommendation platform tailored to your interests. Much like how you would swipe through Pinterest or your Instagram feed, SurpriseMe fills your feed with interesting gifts and experiences, and provides you with a fresh feed when you shake your phone.
The platform, which boasts 11,000 products from over 30 vendors as at launch day, isn’t just a directory where you can look through potential gifts. All products can be purchased through their integrated payment system, and a purchase from each vendor will be fulfilled and shipped by that vendor.
SurpriseMe’s founder, Daniel, shared that this is his first business venture. Having always dreamt of having his own startup, the digital marketing professional quit his full-time job just this year to take SurpriseMe to the next level. According to Daniel, the app gets smarter the more you use it, making use of the feedback you provide for each gift to recommend more gifts that suit you. This is something that he has been passionate about creating thanks to his background in digital marketing.
“I always wanted to do something that marries creativity, technology, and data,” said Daniel. “I always wanted to find the best way to marry all these and do something big. This is my first attempt.”
The app makes use of user-based collaborative filtering; actions users make in the app — from scrolling through gifts to providing feedback on products — are recorded as your personal behaviour patterns. The software will then compare you to other users with similar behaviour patterns who are looking at similar products, and recommend the gifts they are looking at to you.
This means that products will reach their full potential with more people and more activity on board. If your group of friends are on the app, you will also be able to use many more features, such as fulfilling your friends “wishes” on their gift wish list. The idea of social gifting proves that giving others presents need not be difficult.
When I tried the app out, I found that it had a great variety of gifts that I never expected. Having hit a mindblock in my quest of gift-shopping, this app was exactly what Santa Claus ordered. I was surprised at recommendations such as a virtual reality experience for just $10 or Scuba diving lessons in Bali, placed alongside more typical gifts like a Xiaomi camera and Kate Spade bags. Shaking my phone for a new feed also added an element of fun to the experience. That said, the feed stopped providing new recommendations after my second shake, despite the platform saying that it had 11,000 products. Was it the interests I indicated?
Everyone loves a smart app — the world is full of directories, and the fact that SurpriseMe is able to offer more than just a list of possible gifts to look through while providing an actual helping hand in sifting through piles of info makes it stand out amongst the numerous other gifting platforms there are.
However, SurpriseMe does hit a wall early on, simply because it doesn’t have the traffic to power its recommendation engine. It’s a chicken and egg problem that only means that dedication and persistence is what this app needs to begin helping us in turn. Not being provided new recommendations after a while was also a bummer.