ShopNear.Me Merges the Worlds of Online and Offline Shopping

Whenever I go shopping for clothes in San Francisco I tend to just focus on the area around Union Square. Two reasons: I know what I want and where I want it there, and I’m usually short on time. But it’s nice to know that I can cut down on time even further by using ShopNear.Me.

The App’s Usability

ShopNear.Me a new iOS app that gives users information about sales and arrivals at stores they care about. Users can also set up alerts for their favorite stores, and browse the app by products so as not to miss out on a great piece by sticking to their usual stores. Without waiting until there’s time to visit new stores on a whim, users can browse products in their San Francisco neighborhood of interest for goodies they love. Though right now the app features mainly boutiques in Hayes and the Marina, the team is working to expand coverage into the Mission and SOMA.

And the best part, is that coming soon, users will be able to reserve items while on the go.

You won’t have to be torn between seeing an alert go by about beautiful shoes you don’t want to miss out on or attending a startup’s launch party. You can do both!

The Team

I recently had a nice chat with co-founder Yuan Zhang, whose role entails business development, marketing, PR, raising funding, and investor relationships. Phew! But she said it doesn’t feel like work.

According to Zhang, shopping is “a visual experience”, and this app fits that desire of consumers. There are apps out there that list store directories, or sites like Yelp, where users can write reviews of their shopping experiences, but no real visual way to find out what’s inside stores in the area quickly. (Talk about finding a perfect niche in need of some help).

Other team members include Programmer Ben Wong and Designer Loc Ngo (co-founders of Startuply), and Programmer Steve Zu (formerly of social gaming company Lolapps).

The Boutique Perspective

To get the boutique perspective, I took a quick trip to meet with Marissa Olson, Owner of Chloe Rose, a women’s clothing boutique on Union Street.

Olson, in no way new to fashion, or online marketing, said what first drew her to using the app for her store was that she was approached about it.

She finds that to keep her store running smoothly and market online, she does what every boutique owner should do- she has a checklist of promotional things she does. She updates Facebook and Twitter at least once a day if possible and ShopNear.Me when new items arrive in the store.

ShopNear.Me really offers a “store front” to boutiques. With the pretty pictures and thoughtful search options, I’m excited to watch this app take off.


Geeked Out Over eCommerce

Being geeked out over fashion eCommece is really in style these days (especially in the Bay Are where companies like Polyvore and ModCloth are headquarted).

Think about these numbers: last year, online shopping in the US reached $175.2B last year. And an increasing number of Americans are turning away from Black Friday and just turning on their gadget to shop for deals around the holidays. Though the term Cyber Monday (the Monday after Black Friday) was coined in 2005, it has really grown in popularity in recent years. In 2009, consumers spent $887M on Cyber Monday. Last year, $1028M was spent.

It didn’t take this infographic for me to know that sites like Amazon, eBay, Gilt, and Net-A-Porter have really gone mainstream (especially in comparison to smaller fashion sites like Beso or Bauble Bar). My friends across the country shop on these sites, and have been for years.

Admittedly, it’s super exciting to know that a lot of the startup fashion eCommerce companies here in the Bay Area are names my friends outside of the area haven’t even heard of yet. It’s so exciting that I blog about it, attend industry events, and have formed a related meetup group.

I know I’ve been going gaga over the fashion eCommerce scene for years now. And I am a self-described fashion geek along with some of my best girl friends in San Francisco. We’re both obsessed and intelligent (refer below).

How do you describe your love for the niche?

ecommerce geek infographic
Brought to you by ZippyCart: Shopping Cart Reviews and Designed by Killer Infographics

Honored to have this post included in this week’s Independent Fashion Bloggers weekly roundup:

Whether we realize it or not, we are all influenced by something, whether it be celebrities, trends or designs of the past. This week’s links a la mode celebrates influencers and the voices we create from our inspiration. As fashion bloggers, we have each other to look for when we are feeling uninspired and this community is something we should never take for granted!

Links à la Mode: July 28th


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If you would like to submit your link for next week’s Links à la Mode, please register first, then post your links HERE. The HTML code for this week will be found in the Links a la Mode group will be published later today. ~Jennine

Kaboodle’s Fab @ Five Fête & Fashion Show

For those who don’t already know, New York is currently celebrating Internet Week. And these days, no such celebration would be complete without at least one fashion related event.

Last night, Kaboodle, the largest social shopping website, hosted the first ever crowd sourced fashion show in conjunction with Bloomingdales. The looks that went down the runway were selected through a Kaboodle hosted styleboard contest and worn by models of the media and blogger personality variety. Personalities like Meghan Peters of Mashable, and Yuli Ziv of Style Coalition strutted their stuff for the invite-only crowd.

I think creating a crowd sourced fashion show is certainly clever, especially considering how hot content (think, curated content through sites like Everlane) and events (think, Plancast) created and curated “by the people” have become these days.

Off the top of my head I can’t think of a better way for a social shopping to celebrate a five year anniversary, can you?

View photos of the event here and see a video of the event here.

Ann Taylor for the College Girl

Have you checked out Ann Taylor’s “Style for Students” website yet? In the past I reviewed the brand’s social media efforts, and the brand’s new site addition, to me, comes across as one more way for Ann Taylor to both jump further into the fashion conversation online and focus on an even younger audience than in the past.

The site is split into different parts, including a great section where readers can find interviews the brand has done of women across a wide range of industries, including one with a woman in the finance industry just two years into her career. The interviewee answered questions pertaining to interview tips, what her job entails, and what role fashion plays in her work life. Oh, and the ever popular question of what to wear to an interview.

Interviews can be searched by industry, and it’s nice to see that the brand went beyond the style of women working in the fashion and entertainment industries.

Readers may also explore how other college girls from across the country are styling their Ann Taylor pieces. So far only 10 schools are listed (glad to see BU represented!), but I imagine this list will only grow.

If you “like” your favorite looks on the site, you’re automatically entered to win a $1,000 gift card to Ann Taylor. My only question now is, with all this focus on students, what about college girls on a college budget? Do student shoppers get a discount?

How Moxsie’s BuyerChat Keeps Twitter Followers Engaged

There are more fashion brands and e-tailers on Twitter today than I can count, but only a handful that really stand out from the pack. Creativity, a clear voice, and audience participation must be components. And @Moxsie has all three.

Since October 2010, the San Francisco-based indie fashion e-tailer has been tweeting its BuyerChat events as a way to get its Twitter community more involved with choosing the types of clothing that gets sold on the site. BuyerChat participants may also have the chance to “attend” a behind-the-scenes look at new arrivals, buying meetings, and photo shoots.

According to Marketing Creative Manager Mayka Mei, the growth in participating has been interesting to watch.

“We see aspiring stylists bringing in their partners to participate, and we have a large enough group now that makes our impromptu introduction of #team[whatever] more meaningful. The greatest reward for administering BuyerChat on this end is watching our group of “regulars,” returning,” Mei says.

The event was created after the Moxsie team realized their community on Twitter (over 149,000 followers strong) would give them the opportunity to connect with fans they’ve never met in person.

“Moxsie specifically works with independent designers, so a lot of these companies don’t have the time or resources to focus solely on their social media,” Mei says. “Since Moxsie has such a devoted following, it’s just one thing we can do: leverage the opinions of the people who know the market best (the market themselves) – and it gives our designers exposure, too, of course.”

To date, Moxsie has held more than fourteen BuyerChats through which participants and winners were issued badges.
One Twitter participant, @JennieB, a veteran of the fashion industry, has participated in more than 10 such events.

@JennieB found Moxsie through doing research about social shopping sites selling indie designers’ clothes, and subsequently followed the brand on Twitter.

“I like the interaction with other Moxsie fans, with Moxsie themselves and I like that the company is actually having a conversation with me/us – and reacting to the things we say,” she says. “Moxsie has a great ‘voice’- clever and a little sassy, but also they come across as really nice.”

To date, @JennieB is one of just four people who have achieved the top status, “Buyer Guru”. She’s also won two $50 prizes for contributing the best tweet.

Think you can keep up? Visit and sign up for the next BuyerChat, taking place today, March 23rd, at 2 pm PST. Follow @Moxsie on Twitter, and start chatting using the #buyerchat hashtag.

E-tailers Decorate for the Holidays

eMarketer predicts that holiday e-commerce spending will hit $38.5 billion this season, so I decided to look at how e-tailers have decorated for Christmas so far. Amidst a sea of sites lacking in holiday cheer (and some creativity), I did manage to find some pretty cool designs: 

Ann Taylor: I just love how chic this page looks.

Barney’s New York: Ok, to me this shoe represents the holidays! (Maybe it’s because back in college I once made Christmas cards with shoes on them…).

BCBG Max Azria: Though the page took a few moments to load, at least the wait was pleasant. Instead of the usual timer, time ticked by as presents stacked in a pile until a holiday gift catalog appeared. *(Note to friends and family: just about everything shown is on this year’s wish list).

Bloomingdales: This page is full of vibrant colors and activity. Roll over an ornament and it will shake. Roll over a gift box and the present opens to reveal images of gifts mixed with colorful sequins.

Saks 5th Avenue: The bouncing glass ornament immediately appears when you go to the site and links to a holiday video called “The Snowflake and the Bubble”.

A few screenshots of the video:

Marc Jacobs: This page is very welcoming. Two of the windows show fashion show videos and an employee comes out of the storefront to greet you. I like the additions of Christmas trees and snow to the usual storefront website design that was launched in September. More on the new website design here.

Have you found any favorites of your own?

My Introduction to Christian Siriano’s Closet

For all the complaining I’ve been doing about Facebook lately, I was pretty excited when this targeted ad showed up alongside my Facebook news feed a few days ago (was it my Project Runway mention in my profile perhaps?)!

It’s my all time favorite ad so far because a) I love Christian and b) I love’s “Closet Confessions” idea. The social shopping site, founded in 1988, sponsored Project Runway, so it’s only fair that the designers pay their respects.

Bluefly’s confession series also highlights other big names, but I’m sticking with Siriano as my favorite for now. Check out Siriano’s closet here. Though I’m not so sure about Siriano’s “gold moment”,  I can forgive, and it was pretty fun to learn more about his personal style.

Now, if only I could get my hands on an outfit from his first collection…

Social Shopping Without Hitting the Mall

If you’re looking for a shopping buddy who won’t talk your ear off or with whom you have to tire out your poor stiletto clad feet with at the mall, than look no further than StyleFeeder.

StyleFeeder, a social shopping website based in Cambridge, MA, offers users the perfect opportunity to find someone to shop “with” that has a similar taste in style, in the form of a StyleTwin.

Shoppers can be matched with one another based on a whole list of product attributes with people from just about anywhere. In fact, according to VP of Business Development Shergul Arshad, StyleFeeder chooses StyleTwins for other shoppers based 100,000 product attributes.

The site, founded by Philip Jacob in 2005, lets shoppers browse 14 million products all on one page. Today, 2 million shoppers use the site each month, but just two years ago, in 2007, StyleFeeder had a small fraction of that number, says Arshad, who joined StyleFeeder in 2006 with a resume including experience at companies like Armani and eBay. But though 2 million shoppers seems like a high number at first glance, a large part of the population isn’t represented as about 80% of shoppers on the site are women, and most of them are between the ages of 15 and 35.

Though only a small fraction of the population is represented, all brand ranges are represented equally. So someone searching for one particular item, like a headband, will find that a range of products from stores including Saks, JCrew, Amazon, and Etsy, will show up in the product browser. Though the StyleFeeder is focused on personal style, Arshad points out, most people will find more products by larger brand names because these brands simply have more items.

Within just the past month, StyleFeeder was a nominated for the 2009 MITX Awards’ “applied technology” category due to its new product browser and geotargeting technology. This new technology helps shoppers better find relevant items based on their location (in addition to price, brand, color, etc.) – most likely a user in Alaska wouldn’t search for sandals as often as a Floridian would, for example. It’s all about location, location location.

And if sharing your shopping details with others on the site isn’t enough, click on the option to share your new picks with your Facebook friends.


Side Note: Though I was hoping that my Style Twin would wind up being one of the celebrities that uses the site (like Ashley Olsen), I was excited to learn that she’s still a world away from me, in Malaysia!