Online shopping may no longer be a solitary pursuit — or at least that is the plan of tween-focused site PlumWillow.
Described as the first teen-specific social shopping community, PlumWillow, which has more than 25,000 members, was designed as a “multibrand outfit builder,” where users can shop for clothing, accessories and beauty products while getting real-time feedback from friends and objective shoppers. Searchable by trends, stores, price, and category, PlumWillow offers more than 1,000 fashion and beauty brands and 40 retailers like Macy’s, The Gap, Target and Kohl’s. The site’s cross-category, cross-channel beauty offerings — of which there are more than 7,500 — include brands like Bobbi Brown, MAC, Maybelline and Philosophy, as well as a variety of fragrances, which consumers can mix and match with their clothing and accessories choices and upload to Facebook.
“Our objective to is re-create the experience of teens shopping in a mall, where they gather opinions of their friends,” said Lindsay Anvik, director of marketing for the site, who added it is targeted toward the 13- to 17-year-old demographic, which typically spends 30 to 45 minutes on Facebook interacting with more than 500 friends. In addition, more than 250 PlumWillow “virtual interns” provide feedback and offer suggestions regarding content and the site’s overall appearance and functionality.
“The interns are the heart of our operation,” said Anvik. “We tap into their experience as a typical teenager for everything from trends to purchasing preferences. They are our target market, and they know what they want and what interests them.”
Recently added to the site is a collaborative feature called “Style Together,” which allows users in multiple locations to review purchase choices as a group. Teens are able to express their individual styles collectively, just like they do at the mall. “This breakthrough real-time, multibrand/multiretailer co-styling platform is a first in the category,” said Anvik. Additional recent initiatives include offering opinion polling (“should I wear this on a date”), e-mailable wish lists with gifting suggestions (size, preferred brands or colors, etc.) as well as crowdsourced beauty tutorials from brand partners like hairstylist Nick Arrojo, celebrity stylist Dalia MacPhee and Cecily von Ziegesar of “Gossip Girl.”
“We’re interested in the social fabric — bringing teens together in a virtual community and inviting them to actually live the fantasy of earning the sign-off of their style icons,” said Elad Baron, chief executive officer of PlumWillow.