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Wanelo

Deena Varshavskaya may be "doing for products what Twitter has done for information," reports Sheila Marikar in The New York Times (5/8/14). What Deena is doing is a "social shopping site" called Wanelo (pronounced WAH-nee-loh), a "virtual catalog of more than 12 million products from 300,000 stores." The name is "a mash-up of the words, ‘want,’ ‘need’ and ‘love’" and the site has "more than 11 million users, most of them women" who "create wish lists and follow one another, as well as brands and stores."

The easy comparison is to Pinterest, embedded with "buy" buttons linked to online stores. However, venture capitalist Ann Miura-Ko of Floodgate, a Wanelo backer, sees it more like Twitter because it enables "a following of people, stores and brands." This makes Wanelo attractive to retailers such as Sephora, "which will add Wanelo social-sharing buttons to its site this month so that users can share products on Wanelo the same way they would on Facebook or Twitter."

"It’s really frustrating when you’re in shopping mode and you want to go to buy something and it’s a blog article or a picture on Flickr," says Sephora’s Bridget Dolan. "People are coming in with Instagram saying, ‘Can I get this look?’ but with Wanelo, they’re coming in and saying, ‘This is my list, I want to buy these items,’" she adds. "It’s like, let’s just cut to the chase and get shopping going here." Deena, who hails from Siberia, says her ultimate goal is to "democratize" shopping, enabling small boutiques to compete against big chains.