Frequent selfie posters are sometimes labeled as vain or self-centered. But thanks to a new app, there's another word that could be used to describe these social media mavens—profitable.
After starting off with in-store photo booths that let consumers take pictures of their outfits, post them to social media and let other users shop their look, tech company Stylinity last week launched a mobile app that makes it quick and painless to shop user-generated images from the palm of your hand.
Fashionistas simply snap a photo of their ensemble, use a barcode scanner to pull up each item's information and share the image on a social network such as Facebook. Each product in the photo is tagged, so that by clicking a button that says "I Want This," interested shoppers are directed to the respective retailer's Web page.
Users earn rewards points for uploading images to the app or for shopping another user's look. These commissions can be as high as 20 percent of the sale, depending on the retailer's relationship with Stylinity, and can be redeemed for cash, products or other perks. Stylinity is working with 180 retailers, including Barneys New York, Urban Outfitters, Nordstrom and Ann Taylor.
"What we're doing ... is removing friction from path to purchase," said Tadd Spering, founder and CEO of Stylinity.
A recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers highlighted the importance of social media for retailers. According to the firm's global online survey of nearly 20,000 shoppers, 62 percent of respondents said that interactions on social media had led them to buy more in "most" or "some" cases.
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It also found that more than one-third of shoppers follow some of their favorite brands or retailers on social media.
Still, the road to making the platform profitable has been largely unsuccessful for retailers, who get only about 1 percent of their sites' visitors from social media pages, according to IBM. Some independent companies, however, have made significant strides for their retail clients.
One such company is Curalate, which through its Like2Buy platform makes Instagram shoppable for its nearly 200 retail customers. According to the visual marketing and analytics firm, people who use the tool click through on Instagram posts that utilize it 65 percent of the time. These users also spend 30 percent more time on a retailer's site than a traditional mobile visitor.
Social media platforms are also looking for ways to drive profits for retailers. In September, Twitter announced that it would test a "buy" button, allowing shoppers to purchase items directly from a Tweet.
Spering declined to share specifics on Stylinity's user base or number of posts, but said the platform has seen 19 percent average weekly user growth in the last three months. He said he's bullish on the outlook for social media in 2015, particularly as retailers begin to tap into the potential of user-generated content. That's because many shoppers find this type of content more trustworthy than posts coming straight from the brand, he said.
"I think it's going to be a great year for social commerce," Spering said.