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Next Step for Social Shopping

Product bookmarking service ThisNext is thinking outside the Web site with ventures that include a Facebook application and a deal with Ford Models.

Product bookmarking service ThisNext is thinking outside the Web site with ventures that include a Facebook application and a deal with Ford Models.

This story first appeared in the May 14, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The product bookmarking site made its debut in August. Like similar sites Stylehive, Kaboodle, Wists and StyleFeeder, it allows visitors to bookmark favorite products online and see which ones others have bookmarked. Most also include personal profiles, blogs, comments, ratings, search and other features. In addition, ThisNext’s home page displays what items are hot in various cities.

Last month, ThisNext signed a deal with Ford Models Inc. that will let the agency’s stylists and models recommend products and allow the two companies to split any revenue they generate. “It’s a way for the models to build their recognition as style leaders,” said ThisNext chief executive officer and co-founder Gordon Gould. “There are surfer models, yoga, fashionista and outdoorsy models.”

Meanwhile, ThisNext has added an application to Facebook called “I Want.” Facebook users can add it to their pages and send out a plea about an item they’re looking for — say, a white flat-screen TV or the perfect pair of patent sandals — and receive photos of suggestions from ThisNext users on their Facebook page.

“We see ourselves as less of a site and more of a service,” said Gould. “There’s no reason you need to come to ThisNext per se. Where you do your product recommendations or shopping to us doesn’t really matter. We can serve advertisements or cost-per-click wherever you go.”

ThisNext will take in “a few million” in revenue this year, some of it from visitors who click through to look at products on a retailer’s site. Visitors don’t have to buy for ThisNext to get paid. The site also gets a cut of purchases and carries advertising.

Social bookmarking is potentially a better way to reach customers than display ads, Gould contends. Banner ads typically have click-through rates of less than 1 or 2 percent, whereas about one-third of visitors to ThisNext click through to a retail site, he said. About 16 million people have visited ThisNext since August, with an average of a couple million visitors a month, according to Gould. Revenue per page on ThisNext averages $14, he said.

The company has about 24 employees and recently closed a second round of funding for a total of $10 million in venture capital backing.