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Browsing and buying the looks of influencers and creators is so last year. These days, companies want a QVC for the mobile age. That’s why Dote, a mobile shopping app, is bringing a form of live shopping to its platform.
Popular Gen Z creators like Fiona Frills, who has 57,600 followers on Instagram, and Summer McKeen, who has 2 million, can now go live using Dote’s new Shopping Parties feature and talk to users on the app about items they’re considering buying, a process Dote CEO Lauren Farleigh said was missing from the shopping experience.
“We have moved from a brick-and-mortar experience to online and gained a ton in terms of assortment and convenience by being able to shop online,” Farleigh said. “But, I think what we’re kinda sorta starting to see is we’ve lost a lot in terms of that experience, that context, that storytelling.”
Dote is hosting at least two roughly 15-minute Shopping Parties an hour from 9 a.m. ET to 10 p.m. PT today for the debut of the feature. That means there will be more than 400 chances to shop with someone (or at least try the feature). Farleigh said in the future, she’ll consider opening up the feature to anyone on the app, but for now, only Dote Creators who are also big YouTube or Instagram stars have access. Dote is also working with four retailers—Urban Outfitters, Honeybum, Princess Poll and Dolls Kill—for sponsored Shopping Parties in which a creator only shops from a certain brand. Farleigh said that currently, whenever a Dote creator singles out a retailer or a product from a certain company, brands see a fourfold increase in users engaging with their products. Dote is charging brands that want to take part in Shopping Parties an undisclosed fee, which is passed on to the creators. (The company already takes a fee for each sale generated on the platform.)
“What’s unique about Gen Z is so much of [a brand’s] storytelling is coming from these social stars,” Farleigh said. “That’s really who they’re looking for and to to tell that story instead of a big brand like Urban Outfitters owning that story in a top-down way.”
Forty-four Dote creators will host Shopping Parties today. Additionally, two sponsored parties are happening with Urban Outfitters and Princess Polly. Frills, who is primarily a YouTuber but also uses Instagram and Snapchat, is part of that subset of creators, likened the feature to FaceTime livestream mashup and something her fans won’t have a problem using.
“Everyone loves watching people shop, and my followers love livestreams, and I love connecting with my followers,” Frills said. “Who doesn’t want to shop and want people to shop? Overall, I know that my fans are going to enjoy it.”
Farleigh said part of the allure for creators is doing something that requires less work than a typical “haul” video, which usually involves a creator showing off what they got on a more granular level. If a brand’s involved, there are also particular specifications as to which products they need to show and for how long.
“It’s very easy to create the content, very authentic. … It’s a totally new way for [creators] to interact and build themselves up as fashion icon or fashion expert,” Farleigh said.
Dote used Apple’s Replaykit2 to build out the feature and has an entire team, including three engineers, devoted to it. The company’s recent $12 million Series B funding brought its total to $23 million and gave it the “runway” to focus on this feature, according to Farleigh.
“It’s very cool that we’re walking the line of a media commerce company and really pushing the boundaries in terms of how can we use,” she said. “We just didn’t have the ability in terms of bandwidth speeds [in the past]. I mean it couldn’t be done five years ago. So it’s just exciting to be on that forefront of what we could use these technologies for.”