“When we started Verishop, the biggest piece that was missing from e-commerce is the element of discovery and entertainment,” Imran Khan, the founder and chief executive officer of Verishop, said.
With the launch of Verishop’s new “Explorer” feature, Khan, who was previously chief strategy officer at Snap Inc. and led the company to its initial public offering, is hoping to bring the first of those two things to his shopping platform. As for other upcoming features on Verishop that may address the missing entertainment quotient in online shopping, Khan said the next three to four months will show “an accelerated product launch.”
“We’re creating a high-level experience,” Khan said. He also alluded to the idea of a good shopping experience typically being one that includes shopping with family and friends, part of what he called the “joy of shopping.”
Since its founding in late 2018, Verishop has raised $50 million and grown to employ 66 people. Even with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which has negatively affected consumer spending overall but hit e-commerce operations less severely, Verishop is expecting year-over-year revenue to grow by a magnitude of six this year. May saw month-over-month sales grow 33 percent and April grow 30 percent, but the company would not provide specific figures. Khan said in recent months as people were required to stay at home in most states that home and beauty were more popular than fashion and that markdowns, or a focus on “customer value,” drove sales.
Still, Verishop is on a growth trajectory and with Explorer, it will have the social media content of the hundreds of brands offered on the site providing a fully shoppable way for people to quickly buy featured products through the site. If the exact product shown is not for sale on the site, Verishop will recommend something similar.
Even though Facebook’s Instagram got to scale shoppable social first with Instagram Shopping, and Snapchat and Pinterest also have similar features for respective content, Khan thinks Verishop has the leg up in the realm of convenience.
Verishop Explorer offers a “single cart” checkout given that all of the shopping and recommending will take place on Verishop’s app or site. It also offers a single source of customer service, free two-day shipping, and through usage, will offer shoppers a more customized feed based on their tastes.
“Facebook doesn’t have a single cart experience — you have to go to each post, and then buy from each brand or retailer individually,” Khan said. “And if you have an issue, you have to call each place you bought from.”
Khan also sees Explorer as convenient for brands. He says Verishop will be the only place a brand can “tell their story” completely and on a platform where people are only looking to shop, not catch up with friends or politics. And the Explorer offering is not an advertising play, so it comes at no additional cost to brands on Verishop. “We don’t get a dime until they sell something and we cover all the operational stuff,” Khan said.
For brands, nearly all of which are looking to cut costs as the pandemic has hit most businesses hard, a no-cost way to promote shopping will likely be a welcome feature of an online retail partnership. Starting in September, Verishop is also allowing third-party sellers on the platform and those brands will also have access to Explorer.
“We’re building the biggest storytelling platform,” Khan said. “It’s incredibly difficult to get people’s attention and to do that you feel like you have to spend more money with Facebook and Google. But on those platforms, you get drowned out by friend content and political content and it’s not a safe environment for brands.”
And brands, given the heightened state of political division in the U.S. in an election year and amid a still growing pandemic, seem to at least be paying more attention to where their goods are showing up. The growth of a new advertising boycott on Facebook and Instagram shows as much, even if it’s short-term for most brands.