Personalized shopping platform Pickie wants to help people get recommendations on everything from new clothes to gadgets, letting users create personalized catalogues of items based on their interests on social networks. The company, a graduate of the TechStars NYC program, announced today that it is partnering with home flash sales site One Kings Lane to bring a curated catalogue of that site’s products to Pickie’s iPad and web apps.
Pickie launched its app in October 2012 with $1 million in funding, and co-founder Sonia Sahney Nagar said the company’s goal has always been to move print catalogue marketing into the 21st century. Sahney Nagar is a Harvard MBA and former product manager at Amazon, and she said her experience there sparked her interest in personalized shopping.
“What I witnessed at Amazon is that reviews is one of those things that drives…an increase in conversions…and Amazon does a great job in certain categories that have really long product life cycles like electronics,” she said, adding that reviews aren’t as relevant in categories like clothing where purchasing decisions often come down to an individual’s tastes, and products often change seasonally. “This is one of the things that I spent a lot of time thinking about, is how do we give consumers more confidence in making a purchasing decision when they’re looking to buy a dress or shoes online.”
She said the vision for Pickie was really to create a better shopping experience by combining content and commerce, and thought the iPad was the best place to do that in a catalogue-style format. On Pickie users log in and can connect their Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook accounts, and then select several of their interests, from books to cooking to fashion, with the option to follow notable people, topics, and companies related to those interests. Then Pickie creates a personalized catalogue, showcasing items based on what’s trending and a user’s interests. Item descriptions include photos, pricing information, and sharing options, with the ability to purchase every item on the brand’s website.
Sahney Nagar said their focus after launch in October was on getting users, since brands would only want to work with them after they’d built up consumer attention. Today’s partnership with One Kings Lane is its first official foray into working with retailers and brands, although the company also worked with Zappos on a Valentine’s Day promotion, recommending gifts based on Zappos’ catalogue of items. As of today Pickie users will see their regular recommended product categories, as well as the curated One Kings Lane catalogue, featuring editor’s picks and popular items in areas like home decor, jewelry, and art.
Out of the company’s user base, 70 percent are female, and the average age is 36, with 26 percent of pageviews in the home goods category. “One Kings Lane makes tremendous sense as a partner because one, their focus on home goods, and two, they do a great mix of content and editorial, which part of the appeal of Pickie is that we’ve built this platform that brands can use to put rich media into, so not only do we feature the products, but we like to tell a story around the product,” she said. “One Kings Lane has an in-house editorial team…so it’s easy to translate what they do into a dynamic catalogue on Pickie.”
While Pickie does take an affiliate cut for products sold on the site, Sahney Nagar said this isn’t their long-term goal for monetization, and in fact they not taking a cut of the products sold via the One Kings Lane partnership. She said their ultimate goal is to have a subscription model to do content distribution for brands, and that they think of themselves more as a media company than an ecommerce company.
The company competes with other iPad shopping apps, from Sift, which turns brand marketing emails into an iPad catalogue, to comparison shopping app Flit, to virtual shopping mall app Buyou. BetaKit covered the trend of combining content and ecommerce in Flipboard-style iPad apps last year, and covered personalized iPad shopping magazine Monogram, a 500 Startups graduate that is likely Pickie’s biggest competition. But the company also has to compete with brands’ own ecommerce sites, as well as ecommerce sites like Fab.com, since Pickie also has a web version of the app (though 90 percent of its users use the iPad app).
Sahney Nagar said the company has several other home goods and beauty partners slated to launch in the next month, and that they will be looking to add to their team of six later this year. The company will need to realize its long-term monetization goal, but starting to partner with well-known brands will likely help build its user base, and by extension its potential to bring in brand dollars.