One new retail platform plans to take on some of the toughest industries in the global market, from big box giants and e-commerce behemoths to social media platforms ー all at the same time.
Verishop ー the highly-aesthetic, e-commerce site co-founded by former Snap chief of strategy Imran Khan ー wants to guarantee authentic products, fast delivery, and a curated selection of items promoted by a small group of well-known social media influencers.
Khan knows Verishop faces tough competition, but told Cheddar that "the market is large enough that it can support multiple players."
Verishop launched last week with 160 brands and 4,000 items, and aims to have 20,000 products available by the end of the year.
"We compete with the big e-commerce platforms, but also increasingly the social platforms," Khan told Cheddar, who co-created the website with his wife, former Quidsi and Avon executive Cate Khan.
"One of the biggest challenges that we have seen on the internet over the past 25 years is the internet was built on the premise of the open platform, where anybody can go and post anything," he said. "It's a global public square. And we have seen that by opening a platform, you bring chaos. You saw that with a lot of different companies."
That's why, he explains, the startup hopes to stand out from both categories of competitors with trust. "We created a platform where we source the product directly from the brands, and we guarantee that the product is real," said Khan.
While Khan admits that buying inventory in advance does require strategically forecasting demand, he adds that controlling the delivery of products is an advantage social platforms can't offer.
Verishop also appears to be competing with Amazon ($AMZN) with its promises of free, fast delivery, pledging to have products at consumers' doors within two days of ordering. The company also guarantees free returns.
"We have tremendous respect for Amazon. And I think that retail is a $5.5 trillion market, and e-commerce is only ten percent of it," said Khan.
The launch of Verishop comes as social platforms are increasingly searching for ways to sell products on their sites.
One key Verishop feature is "tastemaker shops" that display influencers' product recommendations. The startup is beginning with seven influencers, who boast a collective 15 million followers.
"These are like influencer stores, or boutique stores," explained Khan.
The feature follows recent moves by Instagram to streamline the process of shopping on its platform. The Facebook-owned image-sharing site has allowed brands ー and influencers ー to make "shoppable posts," enabling users to buy products directly in the app.
Google ($GOOGL) too is testing integrated in-platform shopping on YouTube.