• Olivia Hansen

Moonsift is going to change the way you shop online forever

The shopping Google add-on you never knew you needed

Do you currently have 30 different tabs open on various shopping sites? Are you sick of having to sift through an endless stream of suggested items while looking for your perfect summer dress? Let me introduce you to Moonsift, hailed as the ‘Pinterest-like’ Google Chrome add-on that will change the way you shop. Founders Alexander Reed and David Wood have brought to life a service that is going to change the way that we shop online forever. In short, Moonsift will act as your very own universal shopping basket.

The first of it’s kind, once downloaded you will be able to hover-over items from your favourite website’s like Zara, Ganni, Rixo and Net-A-Porter, where you will then be able to spot the Moonsift symbol in the right-hand corner, which will allow you to add the item to your desired ‘collection’. These collections act as a mood-board for your favourite items, making it easy for you to access a single, universal wishlist/shopping basket, instead of having to visit each individual site.

Home page for my saved Moonsift collections

Having used the add-on over the past week, it is clear that this is going to be a game changer. Only launched a month ago, it is already hard to imagine what shopping had been like before the Google Chrome add-on. If you are still not completely sold, I implore you to try Moonsift out and download it, just so you can have a play around. With this new tool, gone are the days of what feels like a million tabs open, as shopping will never be the same again.

I sat down over video chat and spoke with Moonsift’s founder, Alexander Reed, to learn about his exciting new company to find out more about what it was like launching during a global pandemic, and what he hopes the future holds for this exciting new start-up.

So tell me about Moonsift and how it came about

My co-founder David and I both previously worked on projects for big online retailers. I was responsible for improving the shopper's online experience. So I would spend hours watching people as they shop online and see all of the troubles they were having. I soon realised that there were a whole host of issues people were experiencing that no individual retailer could solve. 

One of the most common was people ending up with 20, 40 or even over 100 tabs open. People enjoy being able to shop around, especially with fashion, but this meant they would soon lose track of all the items they had picked out, or be jumping between lots of different wishlists and baskets. Because of this shopping online could quickly become quite a stressful activity - it was even stressful to watch sometimes! 

Realising there was little retailers could do to solve these issues, I left my job and founded Moonsift with David to do just that.

That is actually so true, I actually have 20 tabs open right now!

That’s funny, because when I then identified it to people they would then realise and say, “yeah I probably shouldn’t have all these tabs open”, but everyone does.

The main cause of what drove us to start Moonsift, was actually the data side of it. When you look across a variety of different retailers, as you land on each one they see what you are looking at and try to use that information to market to you better and recommend you things. If you think of someone like ASOS or Zara - the large online retailers - they have tens of thousands of products, and as you arrive on their site they will try and serve you the products that they think are going to be the most relevant for you.

However, this is nearly impossible as they haven’t seen your searches on previous websites you have clicked on. Let’s say you’re looking for white trainers, and you have looked at & Other Stories, ASOS and then Net-A-Porter, however, when you land on Net-A-Porter they have no idea that you have been previously searching for white trainers, so they are going to promote what they are assuming you intend on purchasing, like a bikini or a jacket - they have no idea.

So we realised that was another thing that if you could join the dots on what everyone is actually searching for across all of the shopping sites, then you could recommend things to people that are far more relevant to them. As a retailer, you are only going to recommend the products that you want to sell the user, because you are basically just advertising your stock. But, at Moonsift, being a third party, we can say, “okay you have been to all these sites, and because they don’t care where you end up shopping”, we just want you to buy whatever is the best thing for you. We can recommend something from a completely different site that we predict that will be highly likely that you will want. A site that maybe you have never visited before, or a brand you have never heard of before. But, we know that based on our algorithm, this can predict exactly what you have been looking at before and create a much more enjoyable shopping experience.

You have clearly spotted a gap in the market, is this ‘suggested discovery page’ something that shoppers can use currently on your website?

No not at the moment, that will be part of our phase 3. We have only launched phase 1, and the reason we have done it in this order, is that to make good predictions you need to have a lot of people using your add-on. The more people that use it, the smarter it will become at understanding taste.

My co-founder David did a Masters in Physics at Oxford, and then did a Phd in Computational Neuroscience. He is the driving force behind the data and AI, and what we have built has already taken us over a year. David is really interested in the second part of Moonsift, which is what we can then do with all the data we have to make these predictions.

To give you an idea about the direction we are hoping to go, is to look at Spotify and Netflix. They are able to see the different types of music that people are listening to and then request similar songs, or artists, with their being a high change that you will also like that song or artist. In a way we are trying to create a Spotify like experience for shopping, but for fashion and home-wear, where you will be recommended items that you may never have heard of but will be to you taste. It is like a discovery page.

When do you think this will be available for Moonsift’s users?

We are hoping to have the first iteration of that out by the end of the year, however, we are already starting to make some predictions of what you may like. It is exciting as we are still in our first month, and yesterday (Wednesday 17th of June) was our first full month since we launched.

So you have literally started this all up in lockdown, how has it been?

I guess the positive point is that everyone is on their laptops, people have had a bit more down time and are willing to try something new. And already their life is shaken up so giving them a new tool to try - people were open to it.

Who is your target audience for Moonsift?

We built this for everyone, anyone who shops, but we have found that personal stylists, people who buy clothes on behalf of other people have taken to it like crazy, and they have been posting videos and posting it in their newsletters and things, all about this thing that they have found called moonsift. Their whole life is like shopping online.

Lastly, I am very curious where the name originated from, is there any specific meaning?

In reality it was hard finding a URL that hasn’t already been taken in 2019/2020. We thought that gravity and having your own personal gravity online, where things that become relevant to you, become attractive to you based on everything the AI knew about you, and things that were irrelevant and things you didn’t care about, you wouldn’t see that. And they would get pushed further away. And so the moon was a representation of that gravity - it is pretty long winded. The great thing is that lots of people come up with their own ideas of why it is called Moonsift, it has become this piece of art where people can interpret it as what they want it to mean. We also tested it on people and it was a name that stuck, and even if it seemed like a crazy name, people remembered it.

(The fabulous cover art is by Kylie who creates artwork for her Instagram page Fruit Salad. Please go check out all of her amazing pieces)

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