As Pinterest starts to overtake Twitter and other websites for referral traffic, it's a tough act to follow. But The Fancy is ready to give it a try.
Geared at fans of great design who already love to suggest new brands and products to their social networks, Mark Zuckerberg and Kanye West are fans of The Fancy, and backers include Ashton Kutcher and PPR head François-Henri Pinault.
But unlike Pinterest, it's not so much about visual scrapbooking as is about generating sales of recommended products, turning users into affiliates. And unlike Klout, no credit is received for influence, only for actual purchase, rewarding users for their taste and influence. It's powering more than $10,000 in sales per day. Modest, but it's a start for a brand that describes itself as “part store, blog, magazine, and wishlist.”
Dubbed “Pinterest for ecommerce,” their latest affiliate offering incentivizes users (fanciers?) to share products. Each time they click to share a “fancy’d” item on the site, they receive a URL with a unique referral code. If someone else purchases the item using that link, the finder receive 2% of the sale price 30 days after the item ships. Eventually, the site will invite bloggers and publishers to sell their content and generate digital word of mouth.
"We think social commerce is about making money for everyone, not just The Fancy and merchants we partner with," said Joe Einhorn, CEO and founder of The Fancy, Einhorn to VentureBeat. “The goal is to evolve the way social commerce operates. We want to reward the users who create value for us by curating their favorite items and helping others to discover great new things."
The site's users "fancy" images 500,000 times per day. The Fancy hopes to jumpstart registrations, already over one million, with the latest offer. While 2% is modest, Amazon starts at 4%, (higher for apparel and accessories) and affiliates get an 8% cut of referral sales at Amazon’s flash sales site, MyHabit.com, 15% from Endless.com, and 10% from StyleOwner, a startup for online fashion boutiques that includes Saks and Nordstrom.
“Self-expression has been great for the ego system of getting a lot of followers and, ‘I’m the first one to find this cool thing and show it to all my friends,’” he also commented to Forbes. “But our most passionate users are like, ‘Why don’t I get anything out of it when I’m influencing my audience to buy something?’ I don’t know how much longer we’re going to live in a world where users generate all of the content but don’t reap any benefits besides the ego benefit. We are trying to reach a balance within the community where our company can be successful and they can actually get meaningful income.”
Einhorn told VentureBeat he does not see his company as a direct competitor to Amazon. “I disagree,” comments Christina Farr. “The Fancy is one of the few startups that poses a legitimate threat to established online retailers. The site has the fully functioning marketplace for buyers and sellers and boasts the addictive, social sharing features that have thus eluded Amazon and eBay."