The wait is over.
A new retail website, called Verishop, will go live on Tuesday, aiming to bring “joy back to online shopping” as it goes hand in hand with platforms like Amazon.
Last November, it became known that Imran Khan, who had been Snap’s second-in-command until he left in September, was developing some sort of website. A few months later, the e-commerce platform had a name – Verishop – and a mission to alleviate some of the frustrations emerging brands have expressed about existing sites that have counterfeit products or harm the integrity of the Brand.
Khan, who worked in banking for a decade before joining Snap, is aided in the effort by his wife, Cate Khan, who worked at Quidsi when it was owned by Amazon and cosmetics giant Avon.
“I think our vision is to be the best home for brands,” Khan said in a pre-launch interview. “Whenever the consumer is looking for a branded product, we want to be their first destination. … There’s a massive growth in direct-to-consumer brands.”
Khan said many brands, like interior design firm Hawkins New York and denim maker AG, “need a point of sale,” where they can all be discovered together in one place.
“While there’s a lot of choice in physical retail stores, there isn’t a lot of choice in the e-commerce space.”
In many ways, Verishop aims to be a high-end, online version of a department store. And this is at a time when the physical stores of traditional department store chains are struggling.
Verishop, a new type of clothing and homeware retail website, will launch on Tuesday.
Verishop launches with around 150 – and growing – brands already signed up. These include clothing manufacturers Levi’s, AllSaints, DVF and Citizens of Humanity; home goods retailer Boll & Branch; makeup company Lily Lolo and skincare line Kora Organics. The business model works in that Verishop actually purchases brand inventory, first, to keep counterfeit products from entering the site” and shady third-party sellers [that] don’t belong on our platform.” He hopes this will also help boost consumer confidence.
“Verishop brings together a number of high-quality, like-minded brands that share our vision and values, so a partnership feels very natural,” said Scott Tannen, founder and CEO of Boll & Branch.
“Traditional mass-market retailers typically focus solely on convenience, offering a wide range of inferior to adequate quality products all under one roof,” he said. “Verishop is different…their team finds the best quality products and brings them to their customers.”
Verishop also offers free two-day shipping with no minimum purchase, free returns, and a 24/7 web-based customer service portal.
Another unique part of the website is a section called Tastemakers, which gives select influencers a place to choose their favorite Verishop items and promote them to their fans. It launches with seven influencers, including lifestyle YouTuber Tiffany Ma, who has over 1.8 million subscribers, and singer and beauty vlogger Jess Conte, who has 2.1 million followers on Instagram. Each influencer has their own page on Verishop for their “top picks” and a brief description of why those items were selected.
The “Tastemakers” page on Verishop is where certain influencers can tout their favorite products and brands.
“They’re thought leaders,” Kahn said, adding that it’s like letting these influencers have their own “stores” on Verishop. Over time, the number of influencers working with Verishop will increase, he said.
Verishop also has a “responsible store” for brands and products that “maintain a higher level of social awareness”. This may include beauty products that are not tested on animals or clothing made from organic and fair trade materials.
“E-commerce is just getting started in the United States,” Kahn said of the need for a platform like Verishop. “We’re in the first or second innings. … I think we’re building a business at a time when we’re closer to 10% [online penetration].”
To date, Verishop has raised $17.5 million from investors, led by Lightspeed Ventures.
Disclosure: CNBC parent company NBCUniversal is an investor in Snap.
Correction: Verishop works with makeup company Lily Lolo. A previous version of this story misspelled the company’s name.