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‘Selfies With Purpose’: The Latest Big E-Commerce Idea; Fitbay aims to be the “Facebook of social shopping”

‘Selfies With Purpose’: The Latest Big E-Commerce Idea

By VANESSA FRIEDMAN

JUNE 12, 2014 8:21 AM Comment

The above headline may sound like pie-in-the-sky thinking, but it is actually part of the business plan (and purpose) of a new e-commerce social network called Fitbay, which just raised $2 million in seed funding from Steadfast Venture Capital of New York and Creandum, a Nordic venture capitalist company and Spotify investor. Fitbay aims to be the “Facebook of social shopping” according to Christian Wylonis, its founder and chief executive.

Alibaba and Net-a-Porter notwithstanding, fashion is still regarded by many as the great untapped Internet market.

Fitbay takes a slightly different approach: It aims to solve the problem of the ridiculous alternative-sizing universe that often seems to exist in fashion (I, for example, am a size 0 at the Gap, and a 44 at Pucci). This would in turn theoretically solve the problem of the 40 percent of online purchases, according to a report by Credit Suisse, that are returned to retailers. And while there are a number of other virtual fitting rooms out there, Fitbay aims to do it through crowdsourcing and, yes, selfies.

Think of it this way: Because I know how those jersey T-shirt dresses fit me at Pucci — given I like a little breathing room — I could use that information to tell other women of my size and shape what size they should buy. And take lots of pictures of me to show them!

Makes sense, right? It effectively combines four e-trends (fashion, selfies, crowdsourcing, big data — more on that later) into one platform. And it even has that nice added advantage of justifying selfies, thus giving people a legitimate excuse for taking them. Do not underestimate the allure of justifying self-regard.

Fitbay, which is based in Copenhagen and New York, began in beta in March after raising $400,000 of angel investment, and opened to the public on Wednesday; between March and now, the company has acquired “tens of thousands of users,” primarily in the United States, Britain and Scandinavia, according to Mr. Wylonis, who said that it had been growing 110 percent month-on-month (but won’t get more specific about numbers).

When you join Fitbay, you are asked a series of questions about your size and have to choose a body pictogram, all of which you can opt to keep secret or share. You can also upload pictures, which clearly would be helpful for others to judge whether you had gilded the lily about your own sizing — though when I explored the site, the photos I saw were mostly head shots, which were not that useful.

Still, there are certain built-in safeguards against lying, because Fitbay monetizes its members not by asking for a fee from them, but by acting as a commerce portal to “suggest” garments that may be right for users, based on what others of the same (theoretical) size bought. If the user then buys a garment, the site gets a cut of the sale — but it also gets lots of information on what size that user actually is. In other words, that hot-button word: data!

Fitbay is currently working with a number of online retailers including Yoox and ShopSense, and has a database of two million garments and 400 brands, including Alexander McQueen, Madewell, Diesel and Marc Jacobs.

It will be interesting to see how this develops. Check it out and report back — I would very much like to hear your thoughts.

 

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About bambooinnovator
KB Kee is the Managing Editor of the Moat Report Asia (www.moatreport.com), a research service focused exclusively on highlighting undervalued wide-moat businesses in Asia; subscribers from North America, Europe, the Oceania and Asia include professional value investors with over $20 billion in asset under management in equities, some of the world’s biggest secretive global hedge fund giants, and savvy private individual investors who are lifelong learners in the art of value investing. KB has been rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as an analyst in Asian capital markets. He was head of research and fund manager at a Singapore-based value investment firm. As a member of the investment committee, he helped the firm’s Asia-focused equity funds significantly outperform the benchmark index. He was previously the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. KB has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy, value investing, macroeconomic and industry trends, and detecting accounting frauds in Singapore, HK and China. KB was a faculty (accounting) at SMU teaching accounting courses. KB is currently the Chief Investment Officer at an ASX-listed investment holdings company since September 2015, helping to manage the listed Asian equities investments in the Hidden Champions Fund. Disclaimer: This article is for discussion purposes only and does not constitute an offer, recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any investments, securities, futures or options. All articles in the website reflect the personal opinions of the writer.

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