Nearly every day, it seems like yet another social commerce site wants to become a destination for finding great deals and one-of-a-kind goods online. But as more sites crowd the space, it becomes increasingly difficult for consumers to separate the junk from the gems.
That’s where Pickie, one of the startups graduating from TechStars NYC Thursday, comes in. Similar to how Flipboard uses social data to create a personalized magazine for news, Pickie uses social data to generate a personalized catalog for commerce.
“With the success of sites like Gilt and Fab, we believe [that] in the future the number of social commerce sites will steadily increase,” said Pickie co-founder and CEO Sonia Sahney Nagar. “As these sites create more online conversations around products, and mainstream retailers become more aggressive about publishing out to social networks, there’s an opportunity to create a shopping experience that filters out the junk but shows you the most interesting, relevant products.”
When users sign in to the app (which will launch on the iPad later this summer), they’re asked to indicate their gender as well as categories and brands in which hey’re interested. Then it integrates with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social sites to find out what the user’s friends are sharing, liking and pinning. (But if users feel like they don’t share their friends’ taste in certain categories, they can opt out of following those friends social actions.)
Beyond that, Pickie matches up the socially-curated products with relevant editorial content. For example, if a rug surfaces in the app, it might be accompanied by a relevant Apartment Therapy article. A book might come with a New York Times review or a dress might appear with a post from a fashion blog. Prior to launching Pickie, Nagar worked at Amazon and said one of the major factors that influenced sales was relevant editorial content.
In addition to displaying content informed by social data, Pickie gives users a selection of items that are trending across the different sites it tracks, as well as a collection of recommended items.
Given the proliferation of social commerce sites, I’m very interested to see if Pickie can indeed help me navigate social shopping in the way that Flipboard helps me navigate the news. The interface is very smooth and I appreciate the way it blends editorial content with the products. While it can be tricky to combine content and commerce I think it could work in an experience where my mindset is already oriented toward shopping. A skeptic could say that in a sea of social commerce sites, Pickie is just one more.
But Nagar and her team seem to have the right background for the vision they’ve shared — all three are engineers with experience at Amazon, Microsoft and Applied Predictive Technologies (a big data company that works with top retailers).