Through its fun, intuitive and frankly addictive user interface, Tinder’s simple “swipe right for yes, left for no” approach has earned it a place on mobile home-screens around the world – not to mention a valuation of $1.35bn. 

As the popularity (and controversy) of Tinder has grown, many brands have started to copy the brand’s simplistic yes-no interface for their own apps.

This has kicked off a UX and design phenomena rapidly becoming known as 'Tinderisation'.

While originally used for purely functional applications such as political polling (e.g. Voter) and recruitment (e.g. Jobr) sites, many such apps received criticism for their trivialisation of complex issues.

One area where Tinderisation is thriving however, is in the marketing and ecommerce space. 

How the Tinder-style UI works for commerce

As unromantic as it may seem, if there’s one thing that Tinder is truly good for, it’s browsing.

Tinderisation offers the perfect solution for those brands with visual products that are likely to be bought based on snapshot details such as colour, price and aesthetic design.

In this way, Tinderisation has given retailers back something that was previously lost in the rush to get online – the ability to browse.

the edit

Recreating the serendipity of high street shopping

One of the biggest issues for online retailers is their inability to generate any real notion of serendipity.

Ecommerce sites are great at providing recommendations, accurate search results, and helping customers to find what it is that they’re specifically looking for. What they struggle with however, is recreating the serendipity of a physical shopping experience. 

Even ecommerce giants such as Amazon still struggle to provide an environment where customers can stumble upon goods that they’ve never even considered before - the “happy accidents” of a traditional in-store shopping spree.

With a Tinderised interface however, swiping through products to choose yes or no is just about the closest thing a customer can get to wandering through the aisles of a physical store.

Products brush past their eyes in a flash of colour and shapes, without shipping details, abundant options or endless reviews. Just a scroll of colours and deals occasionally grabbing a customer’s gaze as they saunter from A to B.

Who is Tinderising?

This opportunity to reclaim the serendipity of high street and supermarket browsing has resulted in an influx of fashion and retail brands looking to try their luck with their own Tinder designs.

The Edit (pictured above), allows customers to browse and develop wish lists in a simple yes-no fashion.

Similarly, Stylect has jumped on the trend with a swipe-based app for shoe shopping.

Even entirely new retail outlets have successfully launched off the trend, with the app-only Grabble promising to become the next “Tinder for fashion”.



Tinderisation and the balance of content versus commerce

While it’s all well and good for brands to jump on this trend while it’s hot, we in marketing must also be wary of how such trends will impact the wider ecommerce industry as a whole. For example, the move towards Tinderisation could be seen as placing content marketing well and truly in the firing line.

Content marketing relies on a certain depth of information and customer experience. It relies on customers building slow, yet strong relationships with particular products and brands.

However, as any critic of the Tinder generation will tell you, the decision to swipe right instead of left is anything but a “relationship”. Tinderisation, like Tinder itself, is not about relationships, but rather about aesthetics and the gamified nature of the app itself.

The Tinder approach is opposed to that of content marketing, placing short-term decision making ahead of nurturing long-term brand loyalty.

As such, marketers that embrace Tinderisation should be wary not to undermine their own relationship building efforts outside of the ‘swipe’. The Tinder interface provides an amazing user experience, but these micro interactions must be backed up by relevance in the long run.

With a wealth of data collected from the swipes, brands must look to cultivate their customers’ interests and preferences, to offer more than just a list of swipe-able products. Content marketing remains a vital part of that cultivation process.

With a solid content and product database in your backend you can build real relationships and focus on developing a contextualised interface that really works for you and your customers.

Youtse Sung

Published 26 February, 2016 by Youtse Sung

Youtse Sung is Senior Manager, Global Marketing Programs at EPiServer and a contributor to the Econsultancy blog. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter

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Comments (4)


Richard Edwards, Director at Pixel Hero

I do like the way Tinder is easy to flick though, but I honestly do not believe it will change the way e-commerce works. People shopping online come in two kinds, those who like to browse and those who want to do something quickly.
Those who like to browse may like a Tinder style experience, but it would make it an effort. The way e-commerce works now is you can see about 16 items at a time on screen, you can quickly browse, looking at everything and seeing what stands out, and compare to similar items on the same page easily.
Those in a rush, quite clearly want to flick through pages and find what they want, not one item at a time.

If anything Tinderisation of e-commerce is a modern gimmick which will only reduce sales as it hinders the purchase process. I see it as a nice feature for the few that would enjoy it, but thats all.

over 2 years ago

Pete Austin

Pete Austin, Founder and Author at Fresh Relevance

Re: "Products brush past their eyes in a flash of colour and shapes, without shipping details, abundant options or endless reviews. Just a scroll of colours and deals occasionally grabbing a customer’s gaze as they saunter from A to B."

Is this really how people shop for clothes? I never realized. With me it's more like growing despair as I exclude item after item that's the wrong size, or style, or color - ending up with a choice of two, from which I have to choose something, but both of which I hate.

Online search FTW, because you cut to the choice without doing the excluding manually.

over 2 years ago


Mark Bolitho, New Business Director at Red Hot Penny

Hi Youtse, nice subject matter.

I think what Pete said is true regarding online search, but I don't see why certain brands can't integrate something like this as a fun option. Quite surprised ASOS hasn't tried it actually: the option to swipe through 200 pairs of red shoes might be fun for some!

over 2 years ago

Pragyan Priya

Pragyan Priya, Director and COO at Rasbor

Youtse, I stumbled upon your article while I was writing mine.
From my experience over last few years of dealing with this swipe framework, I have observed quite a traction on this design from fashion houses targeted at female shoppers.
We have infact integrated this with many Magento eCommerce stores and customers seem to like it. Check our product Mebly here
Not sure how long people would continue to like it, but what keep them coming back to this interface is probably the freshness of content. Everytime you open the app, you do not have to go through the menu as you get to see the newest product first on your stack. Works best for shoppers who enjoy virtual window shopping.

over 2 years ago

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