Fancy Founder Sees Future Through Google Glass
Despite millions of dollars from VC investors and billions of users across hundreds of platforms, social media still hasn't made the leap to fulfilling its commerce promise. But, that isn't stopping Fancy from setting some lofty goals.
Hailed upon its release as a competitor to Pinterest, Tumblr and Amazon, this self-described hybrid between blogs, stores, magazines and wish lists is aiming to become "everyone's favorite store." At its core, though, the service advertises its ability to simply "bringing cool stuff together."
Unlike other companies in its market, Fancy hasn't tried to monetize through advertisements. Rather, it acts as an intermediary, earning money from each sale made possible through its service. This may be part of the reason Fancy's platform is catching on with young international shoppers. And with more than 50 percent of its users living in the Middle East, Asia and Europe, the New York-based company is attempting to solidify its hold on this demographic.
Last week, Fancy announced an ambitious plan to make its service available in 30 languages. By comparison, Pinterest is only available in a handful of major languages.
But, amid so much competition, how exactly is Fancy poising itself for future growth? PYMNTS.com caught up with Joe Einhorn, who founded Fancy in 2009, to discuss his company's recent expansion, it’s Google Glass app and to get his view on why Fancy's unique platform may be the company to bring social commerce to the world.
PYMNTS.com: Fancy just announced plans to expand internationally, can you tell us a bit about how this decision was made and why you ultimately decided that now was time to expand into this market?
Joe Einhorn: Shoppers want to buy great products across all categories via one smooth app that is in their language, on their favorite device and that will ship everything from one place directly to their home. International shoppers have been underserved. They want to shop this way and they have been unable to. Half of our users are international, so it makes sense to start addressing their demands.
In statements, representatives of your company have noted that the move is an attempt to cater to young international shoppers. In what ways do you feel like your service can provide more to these shoppers than your competitors?
Nobody in the world is doing what we are doing. First, our product catalog itself is entirely crowd-curated, not the work of a buyer or editor.
Fancy works like this: no matter who you are, no matter what device you are using (web, mobile web, iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, Google Glass), no matter what language you speak, no matter where you are in the world, if you see something you fancy, you add it to your cart, you buy it, we get it to your doorstep.
We are not aware of any other service that works this way.
You're one of the earliest companies that's introduced an app for Google Glass - what can you share with us about that, and how do you think this sort of technology can change commerce?
I love Google Glass, and i think there is a great deal of potential for innovation in eCommerce there. If you take a look at our Glass app today you will see we suggest items to buy based on what color you are looking at. That's a good start, but you can imagine how this can get even better with image recognition and image differencing technologies to offer more explicit matches.
Last time we checked in with your team, we described your service as "part-Pinterest, part-Amazon, part-something entirely unique." How would you assess that statement now?
Your description sounds pretty complicated. Let me simplify it for you. To date, the majority of innovation in eCommerce has been around price efficiency for the consumer. That means either people know what they want and use search and comparison shopping to find the best price, or they use outlet models like daily deals, group deals, flash sales. That's cool and that is definitely a big part of the way people love to shop in real life. There is another way that people love to shop in real life, going in to your favorite shop not knowing what to expect but knowing that it's going to be great and shopping that way. That is an important consumer behavior that has not been covered well online. We are just trying to be everybody in the world's favorite shop.
Finally, in the eight-or-so months since we last spoke, what's the biggest trend or change you've seen in commerce and payments? What do you think the next eight months will bring?
There have been a lot of cool innovations around payments recently but the all-in-one "app store" model seems to be taking hold for both commerce and payment innovation.
Payments companies often have their work cut out marketing to both consumers and merchants to adopt their systems. With iTunes or Google Play everybody in the world is shopping for all of their virtual goods (music, games, etc.) in one place. This gives Apple or Google great leverage to innovate further on payments. We are trying to get to a similar place but with physical goods, not virtual goods. We are trying to be everyone's favorite shop across categories. If consumers do a lot of their shopping all in one place with us then we might have a foundation for a similar marketplace to an app store.