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Social commerce app launch offers meaningful gifting in real time

Making the impulse to give a reality

Imagine you were able to give a virtual gift to a potential client you’ve just met, or perhaps congratulate your business partner who just landed your company a huge client in real time. Next One’s On Me (NOOM) is a social commerce company that leverages mobile technology to facilitate gifting interactions. The company focuses on the exchange of social products, which they refer to as NOOMs. NOOMs are currently offered in three categories: Treats, Beer, and Bar & Bites, and can be redeemed for a variety of products at merchants that are part of the NOOM network.

By focusing on unit-based giving instead of fund-based giving, NOOM makes the exchange of inexpensive gifts both accessible, tangible, and meaningful. They are an alternative to the social stigmas associated with the gifting of money. We might all agree that it is awkward to send a client $5 and tell them you’d like to treat them to their next coffee; it becomes more meaningful if you can purchase the actual coffee. Since we’re often not right next to the friends we want to treat, NOOM is a fascinating alternative.

We often perceive that it is quite difficult to give a nice gift, and not spend a ton of money. We love treating our friends, but at times are frustrated that there are limitations on doing that. Co-founders of Austin-based NOOM, Sara Rodell and Jeffrey Schwartz tell AGBeat that the reason behind creating NOOM is simple. Rodell said, “I wanted to create something that made the act of giving easier and much more creative than traditional acts of gestures. It was created so we could easily do what we like to do: brighten people’s day by treating them to their ‘Next One’. NOOM makes gifting more accessible and creates an inexpensive and easy way to give spontaneously.”

Almost all great ideas come with challenges and struggles. For Rodell, making NOOM successful meant the need to educate herself and her team as quickly as possible on a wide variety of topics, which were both fun and at times overwhelming. “From a product perspective, we’ve been challenged with quickly creating an economical redemption that is simple enough for merchants and users to learn, while still being secure. It took us a while to come up with our current process, and we are anxious to get it in the hands of our users.”

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Rodell shares the biggest surprise thus far, “Merchants have been really excited about the potential to instantly have a mobile commerce presence as well as a social media strategy that doesn’t use discounts to drive traffic. We knew this would be a strong selling point, but have been surprised at the magnitude. This aspect of our business has become a key differentiator.”

Unique features of the mobile app:

The mobile app will allow you to give any of your Facebook friends NOOMs that so far, they can redeem at a variety of Austin coffee and ice cream shops, bakeries, bars and restaurants. What’s most unique about NOOM is that they are giving their end users the power to choose – both where they want to go, and what they want to enjoy. NOOMs function as open-ended gift certificates at a variety of locations in the community where a user can choose what best represents their mood. Since money isn’t a deciding factor in redeeming, it’s fun to focus on what item you want to try.

What would the world look like with NOOM in it? NOOM likes the idea of common displays of gratitude becoming much more prevalent. They are open to growing and changing the NOOM categories as they learn both how people want to give and what recipients want to receive. Right now, NOOM focuses on the exchange of social products, but any exchange that might make someone’s day has potential to be offered on the platform. Because AGBeat is first to learn about NOOM’s starting efforts, they have shared the staging of their private launch event on Tuesday, March 6th at Ranch 616.

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Melinda graduated from St. Edward's University with a degree in Communication, focusing in Advertising, PR, Social Media and Media Arts. Her experiences include serving as an Organizational and Media Consultant for Savvy Kids Education, a Promotions and Media Coordinator for published authors, Media Strategy/ Planning Intern at the Multicultural Agency of the Year, LatinWorks and currently serves as the President of the St. Edward's University Alumni - Austin chapter.

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