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Verishop Inc., a startup led by former Snap Inc. executive Imran Khan, unveiled a new social shopping app on Tuesday that lets users buy clothes directly from their news feed.
The service combines the capabilities of an e-commerce website Verishop launched last year with a mobile app that functions like Pinterest and TikTok, where users view, save and follow images and videos that interest them.
There have been several failed social-shopping initiatives in the past decade, including attempts by Facebook Inc. and the spectacular rise and fall of Fab.com. But the approach has gained fresh momentum recently. Poshmark Inc. and Depop Ltd. have made selling used clothing online more social, while Facebook announced another try in May.
Khan said previous social-shopping businesses focused too much on the fun aspects initially, rather than building the tricky-but-necessary e-commerce underpinnings. Verishop reversed the approach by creating a retail website first with free two-day shipping and returns.
“People said, ‘what are you doing? It sounds like a boring e-commerce company,’” Khan said. “But we wanted to make sure that we get the boring parts right. And then focus on the fun part.”
Roughly a year after the e-commerce site rolled out, Verishop is now launching the social app. It will have more than 600 brands, including Oribe hair care products and Madewell and Hill City apparel. The app will also feature influencers from the worlds of fashion, interior design and cooking. It will have no ads. Instead, Verishop will take a cut of sales completed through the service.
“What we’re bringing is entertainment and discovery. I don’t expect them to buy every time they come to our platform,” Khan said.
The launch comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has shut many shopping malls and brick-and-mortar stores. Users have flocked to social media services and e-commerce sites such as TikTok, Facebook, Amazon.com Inc. and EBay Inc. Verishop hopes to grab some of this increased online business.
The startup, which has raised about US$30 million, is introducing social aspects to the app slowly. At launch, users will be able to follow brands and curate their feed. In the future, the company plans to let individuals upload their own content featuring products that can be purchased.
Khan was chief strategy officer at Snap for more than three years, when the social messaging company was growing quickly and completed an initial public offering. Before that, he was a tech investment banker at Credit Suisse. He and his wife, Cate Khan, a former executive at Amazon, founded Verishop.