Verishop’s Imran Khan on brand discovery in a post-iOS 14 landscape
Verishop co-founder and CEO Imran Khan said independent brands were flocking to its social commerce marketplace following Apple’s iPhone privacy changes.
Since launching in 2019, the company has quickly added 3,000 emerging brands from the worlds of fashion, beauty, health and wellness, and home decor. Customers can buy products from a curated feed, via influencers live broadcasts and shop parties that allow users to share the contents of their shopping cart. While brands can list and sell their items for free, Verishop pockets a 10-15% discount on transactions depending on the category. Last year, the company’s gross merchandise value increased by 50% compared to 2020.
Verishop was among a crop of vertical markets which have emerged as alternatives to Amazon, albeit on a much smaller scale, in recent years. Big-box retailers like Walmart and Target both allow third-party sellers to sell their wares on their e-commerce platforms, as do startups like Bubble and The Yes. Consumer-facing brands were suddenly spoiled for choice.
Then Apple and Google rolled out or announced seismic changes to online user tracking and these same brands found themselves uncomfortable. Faced with the prospect of not being able to effectively track consumers across the web, DTC companies are scrambling to find new ways to reach potential customers, whether through email and affiliate marketing or other platforms such as TikTok and Pinterest. Meanwhile, Facebook and other social media giants are building on a new campaign measuring tools to fill the void created by software updates from Apple and Google.
According to Khan – who witnessed the digital advertising boom when he was chief strategy officer at Snap – smaller brands are desperate for new ways to connect with consumers amid big tech’s pivot to privacy in line. In an interview with Modern Retail, he claimed that the current product discovery and online marketing infrastructure is ultimately not working for these startups, many of which lack the manpower and capital to advertise on. multiple platforms. This interview has been condensed for clarity.
Do you think brands should diversify the platforms they advertise on?
One hundred percent. But the challenge for most small businesses is that they don’t have the resources to use multiple different platforms.
The reality is that depending on Google doesn’t work for indie brands because they aren’t McDonald’s and people aren’t looking for them. Moreover, all major distribution platforms – Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, TikTok – are completely different from each other. What works on Facebook, doesn’t work on TikTok and certainly doesn’t work on Snapchat.
It’s really hard to figure out how to use these platforms while running a small business with a team of five to ten people. I think that’s where Verishop can help brands through aggregation. We do all of this for them and they don’t have to pay us anything unless we conduct a transaction.
Can the social media giants recover from the impact of these online privacy changes?
I’m sure they can, but I think it will take time. I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to figure it out, they’re smart people. It depends on the demographics and countries you are targeting.
Historically, older platforms have had a significant advantage because their tools have been around for much longer. But that gap between older and younger services is narrowing.
How has the retail landscape changed for small brands?
In the first 20 years of the Internet, we saw the democratization of content. You’ve seen video creators on YouTube, podcasters on Spotify, thought leaders on Twitter, and short-form video creators on TikTok.
More recently, we have seen a democratization of retail as things like shipping, logistics and fulfillment have become more standardized. As proof, just look at the massive proliferation of e-commerce sites that have been created over the past two years.
When I was at Snapchat, my thesis was that if we see a real democratization of e-commerce, like these millions of small businesses selling on the web, small brands will not be able to understand all the complications of buying products. an online advertisement.
The other thing that I also fundamentally believe is that people are constantly on the lookout for new brands and new products. But, I felt that the current social media landscape and shopping infrastructure was not suitable for these small independent businesses and not suitable for consumers.
People don’t want to find a product through an ad. They want to be able to search and filter products. They want to have a consistent experience, with a single checkout basket and a single point of contact.
That’s why we created our Verishop digital mall. Everything we do is designed to drive more conversion for brands. And I think the recent privacy changes are actually bringing the world to a faster pace because these brands are looking for new ways to get their products discovered.
We are probably one of the biggest aggregators of independent emerging brands today. These are the hard-to-find and hard-to-discover brands. We choose not to carry luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci that other retailers are interested in.
We have over 3,000 brands on our platform and over a million people visit our site every month. Almost a third of our brands come to our platform organically, which means they contact us. And our monthly retention rate is almost 99.7%.