What's In Store: How Polyvore's Stylish Social Commerce Is Cracking Retail 3.0December 21, 2012
by Lydia Dishman
It’s a dilemma that’s dogged retailers since the days of the general store: how to help customers discover new items and keep them coming back for more. In an era where e-commerce and social media is continuing to blur the transaction line, the solution is as easy to pinpoint as a moving target. But Polyvore is handily cracking the code of commerce 3.0.
Though it’s not a retailer, as the largest fashion community on the web, five-year old Polyvore is easily straddling the intersection of style and social commerce. 20 million unique visitors discover the site each month and create over 2.4 million “sets” or collages of products that range from branded apparel and accessories to nail polish and home furnishings. Polyvore’s co-founder Pasha Sadri says those sets generate “millions of data points on style and taste. Polyvore then uses the data to drive its algorithms for search ranking and product recommendations, Sadri noted in a statement.
But Polyvore’s massive army of style devotees isn’t just playing virtual dress up. They are turning those 7.5 billion product views into real spending. New data released by the company yesterday indicates that the average order size from Polyvore visitors is $220. On Black Friday, the average Polyvore shopping cart was 50% higher than the average for an apparel retailer. It’s also a leader in the luxury market, boasting seven of its top 10 retailers who are major players in the space such as Neiman Marcus and Net-a-Porter. (Think: the biggest order ever was for $67,315). All this has translated into a 2.3x revenue increase for the profitable Polyvore.
Speaking of revenue generation, Polyvore’s successful model is due in part to affiliate marketing links, in which the platform receives compensation each time a user clicks through from a product to a retail or brand page. Users tend to click on items they are really interested in learning more about and/or actually buying so it’s extremely important for the platform to ensure a smooth transition. On Polyvore, clicking a pair of pumps in a set on party style for example, takes you to a product page and one more click leads to a purchase page.
The company’s recently hired chief revenue officer, Arnie Gullov-Singh, former CEO of Adly, a marketing platform on Twitter, understands the importance of providing a seamless experience. He tells FORBES that in order to keep those links at their clickable best, part of Polyvore’s engineering team is dedicated to data quality. “They are constantly working to ensure that products on the site link back to the correct e-commerce site and that those links are affiliatized without interfering with the user experience. User experience is our number one priority,” says Gullov-Singh.
Another factor is ease of sharing. Of the one billion monthly set impressions, 43% are on social networks, according to company findings. Pinterest leads the Polyvore pack, Gullov-Singh says, because the visual nature of photo-sharing platform makes it a natural for shares and click-throughs. “It’s design allows people to scan lots of images very quickly. That’s great for image-heavy sites like Polyvore and e-commerce retailers,” he says. “We’ve found that Polyvore sets shared to Pinterest get 18x as many views and 2x as many clicks as sets shared to Facebook. Tumblr is also very visual but the user interface is less optimized for fast consumption,” adds Gullov-Singh.
Though he’s staying mum on Polyvore’s projected growth for the coming year, Gullov Singh says he’s excited for 2013. “What’s exciting aboutPolyvore is that it’s a fast growing social platform that actually drives sales of products for brands and retailers. That’s rare to find in today’s social media landscape and its what attracted me to join the company.”