Polyvore – social commerce done well

By 24th June 2014Ecommerce, Social Media

Have you heard of Polyvore? No? The site where you can buy clothes and create your own fashion sets? Some of the biggest brands on Polyvore include Net-A-Porter, ASOS and Nike. With an average order value of $200 it’s clear that Polyvore has become an important channel for brands.

What is Polyvore?

Polyvore is a community commerce platform that allows its users to create so called sets; pulling together clothes, shoes, make-up and more to create individual looks. Users pick products from a huge library of items which they drag onto their canvas and share with the community. Each item from the library is priced and tagged. The library consists of all items uploaded by shops and companies who have signed up to feature their products. Polyvore’s global community has shared over 80 million sets so far.

The company was co-founded in 2007 by former Yahoo! software engineers Pasha Sadri (creator of Yahoo! Pipes), Guangwei Yuan and Jianing Hu.  They’ve attracted top-flight employees, including Sukhinder Singh Cassify, former president of Google’s Asia-Pacific and Latin American operations.

Check out the infographic (alongside) that was created in 2012 – the numbers are phenomenal.Polyvore Infographic

How does Polyvore work?

  • Brands add products – Brands and shops can sign up to Polyvore to add their products onto their website – that’s a huge catalogue of perfectly presented products, details, and prices on one website.
  • Jo/Joe Public create sets – Signed-up community members then put together their own curated collages (called “sets”) of products by dragging and dropping as they wish.
  • Buy or share – Finally, visitors can scroll sets and click through to the original source of the product e.g. Net-A-Porter, ASOS etc. With some very cool search, browsing and cross-linking – you can lose part of your day on the site quite easily!

Surely they can’t make money out of that?

Yes they can, and they do so extremely successfully.  The first two revenue streams are:

1) Net-A-Porter, ASOS, FarFetch, TheOutnet, Matches Fashion among others have stores on Polyvore.  They pay to be on Polyvore.  And why not – the site users know what they want, and their brands and latest products are all in one place.  Big brands like Tory Burch and Diane von Furstenberg are coming to Polyvore to generate excitement and launch new products to their community.

2) Secondly, whenever users view sets, they can click on any item in the set and click directly through from Polyvore to the retailer’s website directly to buy it. For those partners who have formal affiliate programs, Polyvore gets paid a commission on transactions originating from Polyvore.

Why is it important for (fashion & other) brands to be on Polyvore

Not being on Polyvore is a missed opportunity. You should allow your customers and potential customers to find your products in the communities of their choice. From a search point of view, you’ll also increase your reach and visibility by being where your target audiences are.

The typical Polyvore shopper is a woman between 18-34. She is 84% more likely to have shopped online in the past 30 days than your average online consumer. She is also more likely to be at the end of the shopping funnel and is likely to be on Polyvore in order to shop, rather than to look around.

Before you create an account however, consider the following: 1) do you have the resources to keep it up to date? Polyvore can be quite resource heavy. 2) Does the clipper tool work on your site i.e. can your products be added? 3) Research! How are other brands using Polyvore? What seems to work for them?

Ways to use Polyvore

  • Add new items to Polyvore as they arrive to your shop.
  • Organise items well. If you have a way to organise them on your site, think of organising them in the same way on Polyvore.
  • Create sets to show visitors how your products can be used (like this)
  • Reach out and compliment users on nice made sets. If done in a nice way you could even suggest your own product to another member’s set.
  • Follow other members in order to reach out and get new and more followers.
  • Hold a contest. Polyvore has a whole section on their site dedicated to this purpose alone.
  • Put your products into context. Summer BBQ look, anyone?
  • Are celebrities using your clothes or can you pull together a set of your products that are similar to that of a celebrity? Showcase it! (Like this Kendall Jenner collection)
  • Double check that you have the correct metadata for your products.

What are some of the implications on ecommerce

When it comes to ecommerce web development, the ultimate goal is to make browsing and buying as seamless and intuitive as possible. Businesses must embrace innovation in order to disrupt markets.

Now that billions of users are on social networks, the usability of such sites creates expectations elsewhere online. By incorporating social media design aspects within an ecommerce site, brands can appeal to today’s social media savvy audience.

Firstly, brands had to sell their products online.  That was it – put them on the site and you may be ahead of your competitors and get sales.

Next, brands had to “tell the story” – so rather than just add their products online, as competitors flood the market and internet, you have to stand out – telling the story of the brand, or a product can set you apart and engage with the visitor on a different emotional level.

Next, social media platforms took the world by storm – if you weren’t on (insert trendy social media site here – MySpace, Beebo, Facebook, Twitter) then you potentially weren’t connecting with your audience at all.

Now, social media has expectations – interaction, USER-GENERATION, and the community driving decisions, ideas, and CONTENT.

So now, not only do we need join in and embrace the concepts of sites like Polyvore, Fancy, Wanelo (social commerce site for younger shoppers), Pinterest, and to some extent eBay and Amazon’s shift to user’s being the drivers and provide user-generated content, but also to deliver some of that shopping experience back on ecommerce sites.