Sfeed, an Estonian startup, is capitalizing on the popularity and dynamics of Twitter by introducing a service that let’s you follow a stream of updates that center around physical objects that people like be it a sofa, a designer watch or a Blade Runner movie (Yes, I ‘Sfeeded’ all of the above). Accordingly, the service is called a shopping microblog.
In a similar fashion to Twitter, in Sfeed you can follow people and instead of status updates you then see the objects they have ‘sfeeded’ in your home stream. When you find a person with a similar taste to yours you can follow them and start receiving all their ‘sfeeded’ objects which in effect are likely to be stuff you like as well. Once you have chosen to like (sfeed) a few objects, the service starts to understand to recommend more objects to you based on what you have liked in the past. Simple, but quite powerful and addictive as I have come to find out.
To add products you need to add an easy-to-use bookmarlet to your bookmark toolbar. Once you see an interesting item while visiting an online store just click the bookmarklet and it highlights the item, add it’s name and the service automatically adds it to your Sfeed feed. The bookmarklet can be added to most common browsers, namely Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera. I added an item from a tiny Finnish t-shirt store, Puoti.fi. It worked nicely without any problems, so either Sfeed guys have already an agreement with the small store, or they add everybody and get a commission only from the bigger ones like Amazon before they get to the small ones.
You can also create sets (see my set below) and build your set on top of say a photo of your living room. This way you can immediately see whether the objects you have chosen to the set fit in your living room interior. Nifty! Similarly you can post a link of your own sets to Twitter, Facebook, all the other usual suspects or embed an html snippet to your website.
Since the service is build around physical things that are sold in stores, it’s not such a stretch to figure out possible business models for the service, which can go from commission to advertising and everything in between as long as there is enought traffic. As hinted above, currently Sfeed’s chosen method of monetization is referral sales commission (there is a link to a store that carries the item in question right next to it). That said, a sfeed like service isn’t very hard for a service like Fruugo to copy and direct the traffic to their partner merchants, which is a natural consequency of Sfeed being such a simple, clever and easy to implement service. Sfeed was build on Amazon Web Services and financed by a round of seed funding in 2008. Then again, there’s always ton of quirky little sites and products that Fruugo or might not be able to get or want to get in their selection, and it actually seems that the two work together quite nicely. Although, I doubt it whether Sfeed will ever get a commission from Fruugo, as Fruugo itself is asking a commission from its merchants.
All said, I very much enjoyed using the service and will make sure to visit again to find more aspirational things I would like to see in my living room.