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Verishop Targets Instagram With Social Features in Shopping App

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(Bloomberg) -- Verishop Inc., the luxury online shopping site founded by former Snap Inc. executive Imran Khan, is taking aim at Instagram with new social features on the app.

Starting Monday, users will be able to upload photos and videos of themselves, tag products in their content, and follow accounts that inspire them. Verishop, launched in July 2019, houses nearly 1,000 brands, from independent labels to direct-to-consumer and online only names from around the world.

“We want to double down on shopping from an inspiration point of view,” said Jessica Anerella, who heads product design at Verishop.

The new interface resembles Instagram’s aesthetic, Anerella acknowledges. But the former Instagram product designer isn’t too worried. “It’s common in design to borrow paradigms,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel if it works.”

Instagram has recently been trying to establish itself as a platform for shopping but has so far fallen short. Its Checkout feature, launched last July that allows people to buy things directly through the app, was used by just a few hundred retailers almost 18 months after launch.

Anerella noted that what makes the Verishop experience different is the “shopping mindset” that people have when they visit the platform on top of the all-in-one commerce experience that has been missing from social-media apps.

As the pandemic forced many brick-and-mortar shops to close and lockdown orders kept people glued to their computers, more people have been shopping online. Khan, Verishop’s chief executive officer, wanted to capitalize on the phenomenon by improving how people browse. About two-thirds of Verishop’s users are under the age of 35, Khan said, noting it’s a demographic that finds ideas online and shares style choices with their followers. Verishop has enlisted some two dozen creators to help create momentum.

The new “For You” and “Following” feeds of shoppable content, features similar to ByteDance Ltd.’s popular TikTok app, will allow users to get inspiration from others while Collections, a feature similar to Instagram, will allow people to bookmark products or posts they like.

Khan thinks Verishop is poised to compete with Instagram and even Amazon.com Inc. because they have already proven their ability in ecommerce. Verishop also doesn’t have an issue of fraudulent products, Khan said, something that Amazon has struggled with.

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