Amazingly, despite the preponderance of tools meant to ease money collection like Paypal, Venmo, now Chirpify, the organizer is still left on the hook for the entire cost.
I don’t often relish the task of booking the shared vacation house, or buying the cousins’ group birthday gift for Grandma, or springing for your friends’ concert tickets and then collecting everyone’s money. Email chains are usually involved. I hate email chains.
Split(able), a Miami-based checkout-focused startup founded last year, aims to make any online transaction, well, they want to make it split-able. The key is that the bill can be split across multiple credit cards at the time of purchase.
The whole thing happens at the virtual point of sale. A Split(able) button sits right next to the Paypal button in a checkout process. You pick something out, you choose friends to invite to split the cost through an automatically generated email, Facebook message or Twitter DM. Those who want to join in do so, and those who don’t can ignore it.
The transaction closes when the full cost is met. Progress on the item can be monitored via Split(able)’s website, messages can be left for one another, group buying plans can be hatched. It’s useful for situations where a group purchase has been discussed–like a Zip Car, or a gift certificate for the boss, or even college textbooks your parents have agreed to pay for. It also works as a way to introduce an idea to friends via a Split(able) invite, like going in on a friend’s wedding gift.
The only problem is that right now, these use cases are hypothetical. Spit(able) is young and in the process of lining up its first handful of integrations. The company only published its API in January and is targeting online retailers in the travel and gift registry industries. The first customer starts this month and a major retailer is on board to launch in the Fall.
The important thing, co-founder Mary Foder said, is not to interrupt the flow of checkout. The company has taken pains to make Split(able) “just as easy to integrate as Paypal.”
Split(able) is one of those applications that can make online shopping more social via suggestions and ease of use, without running into many of the drawbacks to social shopping that we’ve been hearing about this week. Retailers looking to crack the “social shopping” movement, or as some call it, s-commerce, often results in mashing together the elements of social media with the elements of online retail. They’re two separate worlds that can’t be Frankensteined into one.
But social shopping succeeds when each side uses its unique attributes to benefit the other. Social networks can facilitate shopping, in the case of a Pinterest or Polyvore, for example. And online retailers can facilitate socializing. If successful, Split(able) will be one example of the latter.
There are sites that attempt to solve this problem, allowing cost splitting from their home pages, but they don’t integrate with merchants and have a lot of friction, Foder said. There’s nothing to stop e-commerce platforms used by the biggest retailers from offering this as a feature within their own platforms, but if Split(able) can get implementation in as many systems as possible this year, its (s) buttons will gain consumer recognition and become the splitting option of choice.
The company plans to earn money by charging vendors a small affiliate fee as a percentage of split purchases.
Right now the company is self-funded, but Foden said she started conversations with potential investors last month. We’ll keep you posted on how that version of pass-the-hat goes.
Image via Shutterstock.