Barely a week passes without a new app launching that purports to change the future of retail, but eventually one of these will stick so it’s worth keeping an eye on them.

One of the latest is Octer, an app that collates products from across a wide range of retailers, then splits them into categories to make it easy for shoppers to find what they want.

If a shopper is after a red skirt, for instance, the idea is that she’d no longer have to trawl dozens of different websites. Instead, Octer shows her all the options across its range of retailers.
The aim is to make it quick and easy for shoppers to navigate their way around retailers’ online offers, which can often be sprawling.

But what are the benefits for retailers? Founders Grant Slatter and Henry Whittaker say it can help introduce new customers to the brand – according to an interview in the Evening Standard, of all the purchases made through the app at Marks & Spencer, 65% were from new customers.

This sounds great for retailers whose brands are less well known, who have work to do on their image or who want to target a new group of shoppers. But it might be less appealing for retailers who have spent a lot of time curating their image and who sell using well-crafted content and an aesthetically-pleasing site – they might want more control over how their products are presented.

What’s it like to use Octer?

It’s quick and easy to sign up, and the app captures the all-important email, gender and date of birth of each shopper. It’s also intuitive and easy to use.

The search capability is all important – if shoppers use the app the way it’s intended, to cut through the clutter, they will come with a very specific product in mind. The service does seem to deliver what’s needed when tasked with detailed searches, but this is an area the founders will need to make sure remains first class as more retailers come on board. Dune, Boohoo, Sports Direct and Jack Wills are already on board.

The pictures are not always great quality, however, and there is no clear link through to the retailer’s product page if a shopper wants to see more detail. You only get taken to the page if you click on the product’s price, which is not immediately obvious for those just looking for more information.

The app is clearly doing something right, because it has already raised more than £700,000 in crowd-funding through Seedrs – this could be one to keep an eye on.