Wanelo had just one thing holding it back from becoming a true social shopping platform: the ability to purchase within the app.
But that will change today with the launch of Buy on Wanelo, the social shopping site’s first effort at integrating commerce within its mobile experience.
This story first appeared in the November 24, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Access to a half-million products from 200 brands, including Urban Outfitters, Rag & Bone, Nasty Gal, Nicole Miller, Zara Terez and Azalea, will be enabled to start with the new technology.
“I’ve really been wanting to transition from just a social network that’s full of images of product to a fully commercial platform,” said Wanelo founder and chief executive officer Deena Varshavskaya. “From the retailers’ perspective, we know that brands are concerned with two things: reaching the Millennials and mobile conversion. We have the Millennial user, and we know how to convert them.”
The digital mall has a built-in audience of more than 11 million users, 350,000 digital stores and more than 20 million products — and it’s the only community in which content is chosen entirely by users. The sole function of the app is shopping, so the combination of culling together millions of people who can now purchase millions of products without leaving the app has the potential to revolutionize the notion of social commerce, a concept that no one has really gotten right yet. Users are also highly engaged, with the daily time spent on the product averaging 50 minutes.
The rollout of shopping functionality within the app will help set Wanelo further apart from the crop of discovery sites that have launched in the past few years.
Varshavskaya said this feature is sure to eradicate previous barriers to purchasing, especially via mobile, from which 90 percent of Wanelo’s users access the site or app. She said that, up to this point, feedback was continuously focused on how cumbersome it was to complete a purchase.
Users will see “Buy” buttons on items from stores that have signed on to use Buy on Wanelo, instead of linking consumers to a direct point of purchase at the retailer’s Web site (which the company still will do for products that haven’t signed on to the “Buy” program yet). If shoppers decide to buy, the checkout page will open up within the app, and the user will be prompted to fill in product and billing info. Billing info has to be entered only once, making future purchases nearly seamless, according to Varshavskaya, who said the tool was tested this summer and saw conversions three times higher than standard mobile conversions on Wanelo.
Wanelo has received $14 million in funding to date and is signing on more and more brands as they recognize its ability to convert shoppers at rates higher than other social-media platforms’. For instance, Urban Outfitters said shoppers on Wanelo convert four times more than on any other social medium; Urban has instituted a “Wanelo” button onto its product pages.
“So many stores, retailers and brands are just not ready for a great mobile experience. It’s still painful because you have to log into a site and then enter payment info. You’re dealing with endlessly different formats, and it’s painful. Mobile conversion is still a mystery to most brands,” Varshavskaya said.