There is no shortage of app and eCommerce platforms out there looking to match up consumers with personal shoppers. As a well-established part of high-end luxury retail experiences, the digital migration of personal shopping makes sense in the current retail context.
Consumers shop online more often, since they are shopping digitally more often – but more importantly, they're spending more time thinking about shopping. According to Adweek, 81 percent of consumers conduct research online, and 36 percent report that they spend more than a half-hour doing it. Plus, 65 percent report they will spend at least 15 minutes researching before they buy.
When it comes to helping customers save that research time – or at least spend it more productively – is where personal shoppers and designers come in. There are a lot of variations on the offerings – Stitch Fix, Trunk Club and Farfetch all do it differently – but they all broadly seek to add the personal retail touch to the otherwise impersonal digital shopping experience, and creating a lasting relationship with the customer that is built as much around the service as it is the products.
Up-and-coming eCommerce company Shoclef wants to the ride the trend of digital shopping gong digital – but also wants to change that opportunity.
The core of the site is built around the personal shoppers and performers who populate the space. What they do with that space is up to them – they can livestream shopping trips to various stores around the world, or they can do live demonstrations of goods and services for their audience, and they are rewarded directly for building that audience. Personal shoppers can communicate directly with their viewers via messaging, and those messages can also be used as a space to directly request and purchase goods. If that personal shopper or performer builds up a large enough audience, they can theoretically begin earning advertising revenue.
And while it might from the outside seem implausible that one could build a large enough audience of people watching them shop, it bears remembering that Tyler "Ninja" Blevins makes about $500,000 a month live-streaming himself playing a single game (Fortnite) on Twitch. His secret? He's very good at the game – and he's a very good performer while he's playing the game.
"I'm very goofy; if you ever watched any of my streams or YouTube videos, I do impressions and stuff like that all the time and just crazy shenanigans."
And shopping is like video games in that there are people in the world who are somehow better at spending money than anyone else – and that can be built around an online persona that's fun and interactive. And, perhaps critically, given the site's global reach, it can help consumers connect to rarer or more unusually flavored items.
For those who don't' want to watch, but do want to shop, Shoclef offers more standard marketplace offerings. Consumers can browse products and services offered by sellers and narrow down their search to a specific business, city, product or service category.
If buyers cannot find what they seek, they can make a request post to the newsfeed for their followers or the world to see.
"By incorporating social media trends into the app's design, Shoclef unites personal shoppers, buyers and sellers to form a global social network. Shoclef has integrated essential social media features, which allow users to follow others, submit friend requests, live chat during livestreams, [use] full messenger features such as phone and video calls, make public or private posts, and browse current or past livestreams," the emerging company noted.
It's a big offering, and given the undeniable success of platforms like Twitch – not to mention the various stripes of Instagram celebrities selling everything from cosmetics to home goods successfully online – it's not unbelievable that Shoclef is onto something. If the right influences are there, and they bring consumers along with them, this could be a very new and novel way to build personal shopper relationships and bring virtualization to real-world shopping experiences.
"If" being the operative word. The trick, as always, is bring the influencers along for the ride – no small feat in an area where there are already plenty of social commerce platforms looking to attract them and their avid fanbases. If Shoclef can crack them and bring them on, they're in business. But, as with most chicken-and-egg problems for platforms, that first crack in the shell is always the toughest one.