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Social Selling Finding Niche With Polyvore

The fashion Web site opened up its data files to prove the power of social commerce online.

A view of the Polyvore Web site.

Polyvore opened up its data files to prove the power of social commerce online.

The fashion Web site helps users arrange looks with an editorial eye, share those styles with friends and connects them with online merchants.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based firm has more than 20 million unique visitors a month. Those users make 2.4 million collages, which look something like fashion magazine layouts and are viewed one billion times a month. The company said 420 million of those views occur on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest.

But not all social exposure is equal. The collages shared on Pinterest find their way to 18 times the number of people and drive twice as many clicks as those shared on Facebook.

“People have been struggling to figure out how to make social commerce work,” said Jess Lee, chief executive officer and cofounder. “Is it possible to build a social community while driving shopping and sales?”

Lee said the company’s success proves it is possible.

Polyvore, which launched in 2007, is cash-flow positive and raised money about a year ago. Former Adly ceo Arnie Gullov-Singh was named chief revenue officer Thursday.

Lee said the trick to Polyvore’s approach is having fashion products in the right environment and context.

“It has to be visual,” she said. “Fashion is a very visual thing. And fashion is also about mixing and matching. People are in the right mind-set when they come to the site.”

Polyvore makes money by taking a cut of online sales it helps generate. It also charges for advertising and sponsorships and has seen revenues more than double this year.

The average order size placed through Polyvore last month was $220. That’s about 50 percent higher than the average online apparel order placed on Black Friday, according to IBM Digital Analytics.

The top five Web merchants Polyvore drives sales to are: Net-a-porter, Asos.com, Farfetch.com, Neiman Marcus and TheOutnet.

By definition, the site should also always be in step with what the current fashion interest is since its users create the content.

“We pulled back and said, ‘Let our community determine what our top trends are,’ and that’s just a really powerful thing,” Lee said.