Social shopping was all the rage several years ago. The digital dream was that like-minded consumers (shoppers) would organize themselves, discover products and shop online together, engaging with each other in the context of the merchant’s brand and exposing its products to an infinitely larger audience in the process.
While it definitely had its appeal for both merchants and consumers, the available technologies were pretty weak at the time and it never really worked as imagined. As a result, the industry somewhat lost their collective interest over time. Or did they? Merchants still want users to have an positive experience and so do shoppers (nothing really new there). But virtual change is afoot - some vendors are actually aiming to relive the social shopping dream (at least in part) by putting a greater emphasis on enabling consumers to engage in conversations more seamlessly.
RedStart Ventures (a venture foundry) last week launched LoopIt, a platform that enables users to poll specific members of their email address book or by posting their queries to Facebook in the hopes that their friends will join the conversation and lead them to better buying decisions. LoopIt essentially hopes to restore the human element to online shopping. Whether users are interested in publicizing their purchase considerations remains the big question.
One of the first retailers to deploy LoopIt is popular high-end fashion rental site Rent the Runway, which now offers the LoopIt conversation button for items available on its site, allowing members to poll their friends or fellow Rent the Runway style enthusiasts.
"LoopIt is the perfect resource for Rent the Runway members who have already organically formed a community that seeks outfit and styling tips from one another," said Jenn Hyman, CEO & Co-Founder of Rent The Runway. "With LoopIt, they will have an extended group of virtual stylists, including their own friends, as well as other fashion-forward members who also love to experiment with designer fashion. As a company that puts customer experience first, it is monumentally important for us to offer our members tools that will help create the most seamless and enjoyable experience possible."