Wanelo: Redefining the Personalized Online Social Shopping Experience; The Next Big Thing on the Net
Ever wondered what the next big thing on the internet is? Well, here’s a clue: It’s a new form of social media with more e-commerce conversions than any other and it spells out what you want, need and love in a new platform designed to give you everything available on the internet and more.
In a recent interview in Bloomberg Television’s Market Makers, Wanelo founder and CEO Deena Varshavskaya shared her thoughts on how her company (which she founded in 2010) has been making waves for almost half a decade now by way of establishing itself as a social media mutant which integrates various aspects of e-commerce into mainstream consumer niches designed to change the way people do their buying and selling online.
As Varshavskaya explained, “Wanelo is a social platform used by millions of people to find and purchase products from all over the world. So, the way it works is, you follow all of your favourite stores—you follow the people you like—and you get a feed of their products. So, in that sense, it’s very similar to Twitter, except that it’s just for shopping.”
What Wanelo has done is to bring the online shopping community to a whole new level of interaction by means of an integrated single platform wherein one can “follow” a person, a store or a product thereby making it possible to receive various feeds and updates related to one’s personal preferences much like the way one would receive a tweet from a person, store or product of interest.
During the interview, the Wanelo CEO disclosed, “Our goal is to bring together all of the world’s shopping, so it makes sense that there’s definitely something for everyone, right?” She adds, “And when I talk about the parallel to Twitter—the reason why this makes sense—is that on Twitter you find all content re-organized around people. And you show up, you follow accounts that are relevant to you, and that creates your personalized feed. That’s exactly how Wanelo works.”
It has also been compared to Pinterest and other similar social media sites, but what makes Wanelo stand out from the rest is the way in which it levels the playing field for the more than 200,000 stores/sellers it has registered on the site. Its homepage is characterized by a continuous stream of various images of products which are all for sale, depending on each product’s availability.
Varshavskaya noted, “In that sense, we are democratizing shopping. We are making it possible for any brand to play and get access to the right consumer and compete on the same level.”
Wanelo’s registry has grown significantly over the last two years, with the 3rd quarter of 2013 posting a high of 10 million registered users from a mere million just before the end of 2012. Though this is a huge leap in membership numbers, it still has a limited market base, owing to the fact that 90% of its users are American women. It obviously has a huge potential for growth as it prepares to conquer the emerging markets of Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
Wanelo’s members can either log-in through their account or via Facebook, which makes for a more rounded social shopping experience, with mobile apps available for both Android and iOS users.
When asked how Wanelo makes its bread and butter, Varshavskaya was quick to reveal, “We have affiliate relationships in place but that is not actually our angle. We know that we are basically the only social network, especially of our size, that deals with fundamentally monetiz-able content—which is products.” She clarified, “We have a business model in mind which is not currently launched. I think there will be a business model in the future that’s a lot more transformative than simply affiliate transactions.”
Want, Need and Love Everything on the Internet? Better make Wanelo part of your online shopping vocabulary from now on. As Varshavskaya aptly put, “It just ends up being a wonderful way to be exposed to products from brands you know but it also is a really great way to discover products and brands you’ve never heard of.”
Organic rankings are already being influenced by Google+ activity and the Google +1 button!
In order to currently see this in action, you need to be logged into your Google account and have created a Google public profile. Once you add people into your Google+ circles, any activity from those people, whether sharing content or clicking on the +1 button, will influence what you see in organic listings when you search with a connected phrase.
For example, the other day while logged into my Google account with my public profile, I searched with a particular phrase. The organic listings on page 1 of Google included URLs shared by people in my Google+ circles! This is an example of social search at its best where organic listings are influenced by what people in your circles recommend or share. When I logged out of my Google account, the page 1 organic listings for the same search term obviously did not include these URLs recommended by the same people.
For the present time, you need to be logged into your Google account and have a Google public profile to see recommendations on the search results pages and to be able to recommend yourself via the Google +1 button. The question is, will people not logged into Google accounts and without Google public profiles be able to see public recommendations for organic listings and will these recommendations influence their search results?
At the moment, organic listings are influenced by back links so why shouldn’t they also be influenced by recommendations by people?
I think eventually they will be, whether logged into a Google account or not. And if you want a social search experience where your search results are influenced by people you follow or people you know, or if you want to be able to recommend yourself, then this will always be an option to you by creating a public profile and logging in!
A similar situation can be seen with Facebook and the Like button. If you are not logged into your Facebook account, you still can see how many people ‘Like’ a particular page (say) on a website you visit. If you are logged into Facebook, then any friends who have ‘Liked’ this page will be visible to you.
So we are currently looking at two scenarios, organic results influenced by Google+ and +1 button activity even though we are not logged into any Google account (not happening yet), and the second scenario (which is available now) is when we are logged in with a public profile and organic rankings are also influenced by people in your Google+ circles!
With the first scenario, the obvious challenge for Google is the numerous ’spamming’ techniques that will arise.
Google public profiles are currently only allowed for individuals though Google will soon make this officially available for businesses and brands. How these business public profiles will tie in with Google Places accounts is yet to be known though the rumour is that there will be some kind of connection. Time will tell.
It is also evident that the more followers a brand or business public profile will have, the more visible it will be to those people in their search results (when logged in and searching with relevant terms). For example, I plan to follow the Toyota Google public profile when it is created. This means there is a good chance Toyota listings will be more visible to me when I search for car related phrases (and logged in).
If you haven’t implemented the Google +1 button on all pages of your site, I highly recommend that you do as Google+ and social search is here to stay. You want to give people the option of recommending your pages via the +1 button at every opportunity.
Google has tied together its social network and +1 button with its search product (organic and paid) which means if your business site doesn’t get on this search band wagon soon, it will be left behind.