It’s been a while since shopping – like pretty much everything else – went social. Still, the market has large islands of opportunity because shoppers have unique needs that are note easily met.
Set That, a venture by mums Kim Westwood and Liz Tehan, seeks to fill one such gap. It creates sets, or groups of related merchandise, in order to making online shopping for a bunch of products easier.
To Westwood, who previously worked at BHP Billiton, frustration was the mother of invention.
“I have always loved the pages of glossy magazines that present a collection of products from different retailers that have been grouped together with a common thread or theme. Building sets is a unique way for people to bring to life a sense of style or a passion and share that information and inspiration with others,” she said.
But frustration set in the moment one tried to buy the very same products online. They were simply hard to find and took inordinate amounts of time. In some cases, they were six to eight weeks old and no longer available.
Familiar online scramble
Westwood cites the example of a one-year-old’s birthday theme party.
“If I was after a range of things…I would have to search online party stores and other inspirational sites like Pinterest for many hours before finding the ‘eight’ things I needed to purchase from about five different stores,” she recounted.
“I continued to question whether there was a better way for people to shop online. I was also beginning to question the value I was getting spending hours on social media for little or no return other than hearing about what my friends were doing or seeing pictures of what they were eating!”
Set That tries to fix such problems with a two-pronged approach. It aggregates products, rather than letting them sit in separate aisles, in a manner of speaking. Even more importantly, it lets people create these sets, trusting in the “wisdom of crowds and friends.”
“I could see there were better ways people could style things and the inspiration this provides to others wanting to shop online. In addition, wanting to know where people shop and being introduced to new stores and products via the people that know or are the ‘experts’ in their space was a major gap in the online retail space,” she added.
Users then explore curated sets of products. Set That hands out small rewards – up to 2% of sales – to users that create these sets.
Set That has signed up leading Australian brands such as Styletread, zanui, Surfstitch and THE ICONIC, besides international ones like Bloomingdale’s, Marks and Spencer, StrawberryNET and John Lewis.
“With more than 100 stores already committed and our early talks with prospective investors, this concept has the potential to challenge existing paradigms and change the face of retail, not only here in Australia, but across the globe,” claimed Westwood.
Westwood and Tehan have so far bootstrapped their startup but say say they have opened talks with investors in Australia and abroad.