Urban Outfitters, Nasty Gal and other retailers start selling directly on Wanelo’s app

November 24, 2014 12:41 PM

Wanelo today removed the biggest barrier that kept shoppers from buying the products they discover on the shopping-focused social network. Shoppers no longer have to leave the social network buy the items they discover on Wanelo.

Until today, Wanelo operated like coupon and other affiliate web sites that require a user to click to a retailer site to make a purchase. But now shoppers can click and buy directly on the social network’s mobile app from about 200 online merchants, including Urban Outfitters Inc., No. 48 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, and Nasty Gal Inc., No. 113. Wanelo, which charges brands a commission that ranges between 10% and 15%, says it plans to let more merchants sell directly on its platform next year.

Wanelo says that its users can buy more than 500,000 of the app’s more than 20 million products directly within the app. The items that shoppers can buy directly on Wanelo features a Buy on Wanelo button, rather than the social network’s standard Buy button that takes consumers to a retailer’s site. After a shopper clicks on the Buy on Wanelo button, she can then select her size and color, and then tap the Place Order button to complete the purchase, which Wanelo will process.

The social network, which says 90% of its traffic is mobile, says that it found in early tests of Buy on Wanelo that the conversion rate for shoppers who bought within the app was about three times that of those who clicked to a retailer’s site. That's largely a reflection of the social network's efforts to make it easier for mobile consumers to click and buy, says Deena Varshavskaya, Wanelo’s founder and CEO.

"Many retailers aren't even optimized for mobile and even those who are often don't have a satisfying experience," she says. "Just the act of sending someone to a mobile site from the app creates a barrier that might keep someone from buying. Wanelo eliminates that friction."

Wanelo is the latest social network to attempt to crack the e-commerce puzzle. Facebook Inc., for example, announced in July it was testing a Buy button that lets the social network’s desktop and mobile users click the button on ads and page posts to purchase a product directly from a business without leaving Facebook. The social network says it is also working on ways to make transactions more convenient and secure. That experiment followed a number of other attempts over the years to turn Facebook into a shopping environment, including its 2012 launch of the short-lived Facebook Gifts service, which let shoppers buy physical gifts for their friends. (Consumers can still buy gift cards on the social network.)

Similarly, Twitter in September launched a test that lets retailers, nonprofits and musical artists add a Buy button to their tweets. Burberry Ltd., No. 357 in the 2014 Top 500 Guide, and The Home Depot Inc., No. 16, are among the merchants participating in the test. By enabling shoppers to buy without leaving the social network, Nathan Hubbard, Twitter’s head of commerce said the social network hoped to make shopping from mobile devices convenient and easy and “hopefully even fun.”

But unlike mainstream social networks like Facebook and Twitter, Wanelo’s content is entirely focused on shopping, which means it is less of a stretch that its users might be willing to embrace e-commerce on the platform, Varshavskaya says.

“The focus of the platform matters,” she says. "You go to Twitter to get news and information, you go to Facebook to catch up with friends and you go to Wanelo to shop. The only reason our users are on Wanelo is to discover products."

That focus on shopping explains why retailers such as Urban Outfitters have said that the conversion rate for Wanelo-driven traffic is significantly higher than that that stems from other social networks. Letting shoppers buy directly on Wanelo presents an opportunity to improve that already-high rate, says Jim Davis, director of interactive marketing at Urban Outfitters, which has 2.9 million followers on the platform, 38% more than the roughly 2.1 million it has on Facebook.

“We believe in going where our customers are,” he says. “As a brand that is always on the forefront of engaging with consumers who yearn for creativity and authenticity, joining Buy on Wanelo allows us to better reach our shopper who wants to buy right at the point of discovery.”




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