Image if you could peruse your friends’ closets or apartments to find out what they’re wearing.
That’s the premise behind a new app called Storr: digital product recommendations among friends.
The platform lets anyone with a smartphone be a mobile retailer. All they have to do is curate a dashboard of things they think others should buy. Shoppers then browse their friends’ dashboards, or product recommendations, to see what’s hot. The app links directly to store web sites where app users can purchase products.
“The idea is that people buy from people,” said Eric Senn, founder of Storr. “Product recommendations don’t come from celebrities or influencers as much as they do from people’s peers.”
The San Francisco-based company Storr is launching the app by the same name on Wednesday, backed by investors like retail veteran Karen Katz, who previously served as chief executive officer of Neiman Marcus, Peter Sachse, former chief growth officer of Macy’s, professional baseball player Alex Rodriguez, and David Sacks, founding chief operating officer of PayPal.
The retailers, or account users, make a 15-to-25 percent commission from each sale, depending on the product and brand, while companies like Adidas and Cole Haan control the price of products. That means if a shirt goes on sale on a company’s web site, then it automatically goes on sale in Storr, too. Account users can also donate a percentage of their earnings to a charity of their choice if they choose.
First though, they select brands and products they like and write a quick, informal description of the item. Something like, ‘These shoes are great and don’t hurt my feet.’ Senn said this makes the exchange more authentic.
Environmentalists might fill their Storr with clothing in shades of green and donate to a climate change foundation. Poetry fans’ favorite things might include clothing and accessories with inspirational quotes on them. While girly girls might choose to display a Storr that features a selection of feminine pastels and floral skirts.
“It’s really a window into your life,” Senn said. “If you opened your own little brick-and-mortar store on the corner somewhere, what would you put in there? This is the digital version.”
Shoppers use the explore button to find styles and Storrs they like. Meanwhile, the brands take care of all the shipping and returns. Sellers can pocket the profits or use them to buy from other retailers in the app. Senn’s team at Storr takes a 5-to-10 percent cut from each sale.
Torrie Crown, head of business development at Storr, added that the app is a great side gig for the fashionable.
“Everyone has the friend or friend’s friend who has the coolest style, or knows the best places to shop, or the best places to eat, or the best workout classes,” she said. “So essentially what Storr tries to do is take those trusted channels and make them transactional.”
Senn came up with the idea about two years ago after realizing that larger distribution channels, like big box retailers, department stores and digital platforms, think Amazon and Farfetch, were “these huge, rigid, impersonal channels.”
“Younger consumers don’t have the same emotional connection to Macy’s or to Amazon as they do to their friends,” he said.
He also noticed that a lot of influencers and ambassadors have more followers than the brands they are endorsing — and are therefore better at selling items. And that regular people often know where to find the best stuff.
“But it just doesn’t make sense for the brands to work with someone like me, Eric Senn, who has 800 followers [on social media], because I don’t give them a lot of reach,” he said.
With the Storr app, however, brands can widen their reach by tapping into regular, and often very stylish, people who know what’s trendy in a particular area, but may not have a sizable social media following, Senn said.
“We’re empowering brands to monetize that organic ambassadorship,” he said. “If you flip the model and you enable anyone to open their own little store, then the brands have these commissioned sales people, selling for them.”
The app is launching with roughly 100 “retailers,” including influencers like Something Navy, model Rocky Barnes and Victoria’s Secret angels. Senn said over time more account users will be allowed to set up a Storr.
“The platform is totally for anyone — just not yet,” he said. “We’re rolling it out slowly.”
In the meantime, anyone can download the app once it launches and shop the more than 100 brands, including eyewear brand Oliver Peoples, P.E. Nation, Marmot and fashion designer Prabal Gurung. More companies are expected to be added to the platform over time and as users request specific brands they want to see in their favorite Storrs.
“It’s like a digitalized farmer’s market,” Crown said. “Where you go to your apple guy, because he knows how they’re grown and competitive pricing. And then you go to your cheese guy. You have these human interactions with people you actually trust. With Storr, brands are now being connected with those people in ways they hadn’t before.”