Review site Yelp and online boutique aggregator Shoptiques have partnered to enable consumers to shop the boutiques while on Yelp.
Shoptiques hosts about 2,250 stores across every U.S. state plus Puerto Rico and is responsible for the photography of products from each boutique. The site allows a consumer living in Boston to shop her favorite SoHo boutique in New York and then at a shop in Denver using a single checkout process.
According to Mike Ghaffary, vice president for business and corporate development at Yelp, Shoptiques brings “first-class e-commerce to consumers searching for the best local boutiques.”
He added that the boutique aggregator is the first partner in the shopping category, which is Yelp’s largest category at 23 percent. “This partnership will make it easy and convenient for people to find and purchase from local stores directly through Yelp,” he said.
Consumers heading to the Yelp site search by category, after defining parameters such as location. Once a list is generated, any listing that is clicked on that is part of the aggregator will have a Shop Now button on the top right corner to facilitate shopping. Shoptiques gets a percentage of the sales, but will now likely share a portion of that with Yelp. Neither site’s executives disclosed how that sharing is structured. Ghaffary disclosed that Yelp’s major source of revenue is from paid advertising, although there is a small percentage generated from transactions and revenue-sharing agreements.
According to Ghaffary, Yelp is looking to add other fashion partners for apparel and accessories.
To be sure, there’s often the question over whether reviews can be trusted since it’s not always possible to know who is posting an opinion about a business. Ghaffary said, “We take the issue of review quality and integrity most seriously…. We actually only recommend 75 percent of our reviews. We are voluntarily not highlighting a whole quarter of our content.”
He explained that Yelp has engineering teams dedicated to tracking patterns in the cities it offers reviews trying to filter out certain parameters so it can improve on existing algorithms used to exclude suspect reviews. It could be from user feedback to a user community flag, or even something connected to a pattern of submissions. Describing the algorithms as “sophisticated,” the techniques used can filter out a post from someone who hasn’t been to a store or restaurant being reviewed.
Olga Vidisheva, chief executive officer and founder of Shoptiques, said, “Yelp has been reviewing some of our boutiques for three years. They are able to figure out which one is a fake review and which one is real.”
Yelp will handle the review component, while Shoptiques will control the shopping experience. Shoppers on Yelp who select a boutique that is part of Shoptiques’ network will see a co-branded screen.
The boutique aggregator is profitable, according to its ceo. She said that the company has been funded through friends and family and a seed round that included investors Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners. Because the site is profitable, Vidisheva is not looking for additional funding.