As with many Web 2.0 enterprises, Swipely is like many other things: a social network, a recommendation engine like Yelp, a lot like Gdgt (except it's for everything you buy, rather than just gadgets). It officially launches today, and has loaded new features into the full app, including Foursquare-esque "badges" as a reward for sharing certain kinds of shopping information.
The service calls itself a "secure platform for consumers to recommend purchase experiences, discover new places and products through trusted friends, save money, and have more fun shopping." That covers the functional aspects. The idea is that you join the site and make friends, much as you would in Facebook, but instead of the usual "status updates", you log things you've just bought and where you bought them. Anyone, including businesses, can see these updates.
By prompting people to talk about their purchase decisions, the site says it can improve the shopping experience for everyone (including merchants looking to impress customers). The only thing you don't get to share is how much you paid on your credit card.
Swipely did a soft launch in May, but officially opens its doors today. Its new reward badges, such as "turntable" and "bookworm," seem essentially very similar to the badges offered by location game Foursquare. At the moment, the badges mean very little. They may eventually be able to act as loyalty card points for particular retailers.
The question surrounding Swipely is whether or not it can distinguish itself from similar services (like Blippy or Yelp) and attract significantly bigger audiences. Its closest competition, GDGT, is strongly biased toward gadgets and computing gear, which gives it an audience among younger folk who enjoy sharing information and who are into consumer electronics. Who is Swipely's niche audience? We're about to find out.
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