May 8, 2012
The evolution of search continues. In addition to the new business ideas that have cropped up imitating/borrowing from the aesthetically pleasing UI of Pinterest (see: Linstagram or Pinstagram), there exists a new user expectation for browsing. Naturally any item that can be searched visually soon will be, if it isn’t already. Added exposure to a new variety of products is the result. Not only does this bode well for the makers of cupcakes and kitten attire, but, above all, the fashion industry stands to gain the most.
In recognizing this, Elad Baron has built SparkRebel, a fashion-inspired discovery and social shopping website.
“The e-commerce model for hard goods, items such as stereos and smartphones, is already satisfactory. There are different types of commerce, however. For soft goods – things like fashion – there is still a big void. As is, the platforms for hard and soft goods are the same, even though the experience should be totally different. This idea is what inspired SparkRebel,” says Baron, CEO of NYC-based SparkRebel.
This isn’t Baron’s first go-around in the online fashion world either, having previously created PlumWillow, a fashion website for teenagers. Baron saw first-hand that purchase behavior was influenced largely by peer recommendation. Much like Pinterest, users “spark” (the site’s terminology for sharing) the fashions that most inspire them. “With the newest trend being visual curation, we’re blending these models and applying it directly to fashion. The social curation will be more of a fun experience than what currently exists,” adds Baron.
Additionally, SparkRebel incorporates a “brands and stores” page, allowing users to filter designs by their favorite companies, essentially creating an online mall.
But unlike Pinterest, which already has a heavy fashion element, SparkRebel makes purchasing a central component to the site’s functionality, including a link to buy the items directly from the home page and individual item pages.
SparkRebel, like Pinterest, uses affiliate links to make money, but is more upfront about the business end of their service. Baron says that his site ties directly to the back end of many of its partnering stores, manually pulling their inventory, ensuring a continual stream of fresh, money-generating content.
The Future of Online Shopping
As for the future of online shopping, Baron cited both improved personalization and curation as two elements that will continue to improve the customer experience. “People want to find things that they like that they wouldn’t have even thought to look for.” Beyond that, Baron adds that the ultimate goal is for technology to best replicate the in-person experience:
“The ultimate vision is to be able to imitate the physical shopping experience. Soon you’ll be able to try things on without having to go to the store. There are many technologies solving the issue of need to wear the actual clothes before purchase. The future can hold so much more and we believe that SparkRebel is taking steps in that direction.”
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