ShopStyle Changing The Game For Bloggers & Retailers

ShopStyle, ShopStyleSnap, Snapchat, Style Bloggers

Last year, ShopStyle, the online fashion search engine and shopping site operated by Sugar, Inc., had more clicks on shoes than the population of Portugal. This fun factoid was relayed by Melissa Davis, executive vice president and general manager of ShopStyle, to her team at a recent meeting and planning event.

For those of you who may not have the population of Portugal at the tip of your tongue (about 10,581,860 people as of January 2015), let me translate ShopStyle’s popularity in less colorful but no less impressive numbers: The site, which operates on a marketing affiliate model, garners five million searches per week, is on track to bank a cool $1.2 billion in retail sales for retail partners by the end of 2015 and currently features 12 million products from 1,400 retailers.

For the fashion bloggers and retailers who partner with the San Francisco-based ShopStyle for its ShopStyle Collective affiliate program, these numbers can translate to big business. Davis said that some of the top bloggers using ShopStyle have monthly take-home figures of $16K. But, she concedes, that’s an elite group who make six figures or more a year as full-time bloggers.

Before you cry in your carrot-ginger soup (perfectly food styled for your Instagram post, of course), Davis said that there are still healthy numbers to be made, even if your last name isn’t Song or Ferragni. “We do have a lot of [other] bloggers who are making [an average] of $1k to $3K per month,” said Davis. “Those numbers are not uncommon, but for these influencers, it’s not just about them getting paid, but about promoting their brand, as it offers them so much awareness and exposure outside of payment.”

While exposure to a blogger’s personal brand is vital, let’s be honest: Payment is paramount. This is top of mind for the ShopStyle, which has adopted a cost-per-click (or CPC) model that pays bloggers when a user clicks on their link or ad. The CPC price is set by the advertiser. This is in direct contrast to some of the other popular blogger affiliate programs that pay only after the sale is complete and the requisite hold time for possible returns has expired. A time period known in bloggerland as an affiliate eternity.

Said Davis, “They’re still influencing purchases whether or not it’s an immediate sale, and we believe that they should get paid for that.”

Melissa Davis, ShopStyle, PopSugar, Sugar Inc.

Melissa Davis, executive vice president and general manager, ShopStyle

And if bloggers are looking to capitalize on some of ShopStyle’s top shopping categories, those would be: dresses, shoes and handbags. These top-three biggies have always been the mainstay for the company, offered Davis.

And while it’s no secret to fashion mavens that high-low shopping is here to stay, the proof is in the numbers, or in search volume.

“Our shoppers and consumers search for Isabel Marant, Rag & Bone and also Zara, H&M and everyday fast-fashion brands. And we’ll continue to see more of it.”

But the way people find the brands, and the manner in which bloggers influence their followers is shifting rapidly, as digitally savvy influencers engage with new social media platforms. And for the younger styleblogger who is the bread and butter of ShopStyle’s affiliate program that means being on the newest and fastest-growing social platform du jour: Snapchat.

Snapchat, the Los Angeles-based platform launched out of fraternity in 2011 as a way for users to send pictures and videos (with comment) to each other that disappear after anywhere from one to ten seconds (We can’t imagine how frat boys could have possibly come up with this idea?!), is rapidly eclipsing other such apps in its category.

According to New York-based firm 7Park Data Inc., which tracks and analyzes app activity on phones, Snapchat was used by 29.4 percent of iPhone users in the U.S. as of January this year. Earlier this year, Snapchat turned down an acquisition offer by Facebook that was valued at more than $3 billion, further underscoring its popularity and, what the company clearly sees as, its potential for growth.

Stats such as those from Snapchat are not lost on management at ShopStyle, which recently launched a weeklong Snapchat campaign to announce its Snap.shopstyle feature, allowing digital influencers to monetize their SnapChat feeds.

The company, which already features an option for monetizing both Instagram posts and YouTube videos began testing the possibility with its SnapShopStyle campaign, created in partnership with online retailer FarFetch.

The program kicked off with five well-known bloggers — @DamselinDior, @AlwaysJudgin, @NatalieOffDuty, @HelloFashBlog and @GeriHirsch — allowing fans of the style bloggers to shop the looks inspired by their Snapchat feeds directly on

ShopStyle has yet to announce a wider rollout for all influencers signed up with its ShopStyle Collective affiliate program, but given Snapchat’s off-the-charts growth and a potential $19 billion valuation, we would expect that to be coming down the pike before long.

But creating apps that work with seamlessly with affiliate programs has been tricky as companies such as Instagram and its parent company, Facebook, have always limited the ways in which outside apps can interact with the platforms, most notably when it comes to sales. Just last week, ShopStyle and competitor rewardStyle saw their Instagram programs interrupted with the new iOS update, which no longer allows the programs to pull in captions from third-party applications. A fix is still forthcoming.

“The snapchat campaign was super successful, and we definitely see snapchat as the next level,” said Davis. “[We created it because of] everything we heard about how much [the bloggers] loved Snapchat as a platform. It was more casual and everything didn’t have to be picture perfect.”

This is also the appeal for bloggers, brands, media and personalities such as Sephora, Baublebar, Allure magazine, The Zoe Report and more who have hopped aboard the Snapchat Express. Effectively, Snapchat has become the Instagram of old — the more casual slice of life that Instagram once was before bloggers began superstyling their feeds.

If Instagram were a woman, it would be the lady who never goes out without makeup, coiffed hair and a killer look. And, of course, her house and her meals in pristine, editorially styled condition. Now, if Snapchat were a woman, she is the type who is cool with bedhead (in fact, cooler for it) and only a swipe of gloss. She celebrates her mess with a sly comment and a WTF attitude. And she posts half-eaten plates of, well, whatever. Or, at least, it will be like that for a brief moment until it, too, becomes 10 seconds of on-the-go perfection to inspire envy among mere mortals.

“We did a team activity last night,” said Davis. “And we [went to] Benihana [restaurant] and then karaoke, and the first thing everyone did was Snapchat. You wouldn’t put karaoke on Instagram.”

(Truth be told, we wouldn’t put karaoke on any social media outlet, period, because we would never want that coming back to haunt us!)

PopSugar, Sugar Inc.

Of course, having Sugar Inc., which operates wildly popular style & celebrity website PopSugar, as your parent company is also enormously helpful. The separation of church and state has changed for media companies that are now focused on how content and commerce can play nicely together.

 “People aren’t spending as much time going to blogs or content sites specifically. It’s a lot through social and that’s where the influence comes in…and we will see more and more of that and people figuring out ways to monetize social platforms.”

The next big frontier for ShopStyle: China, of course. Davis said the company has a soft launch planned this month to go into the world’s largest economy, and is scheduled to do a full launch in the fourth quarter of the year, closer to Singles Day, the 24-hour e-commerce holiday beginning on November 11.

ShopStyle’s Davis said that the company has every expectation that it could easily compete, if not outpace, U.S. sales.

“In the first half of the year, we generated over 1,000 orders a month from China and that’s without a localized site…It’s people shopping from the English-language”

If those numbers continue to rise and ShopStyle’s China launch goes as well as expected, the company’s footwear category will definitely outpace the population of Portugal for clicks, and Davis will need a new country benchmark for next year’s team-building meeting!

Images courtesy of Sugar Inc.

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Author:Michelle Dalton Tyree

Fashion Trends Daily is the brainchild of Michelle Dalton Tyree. She is the former West Coast Retail Editor for Women’s Wear Daily, Fashion Editor for The Japan Times, and founder of former L.A. luxury boutique Iconology. Michelle is frequently quoted about fashion retail trends in major media outlets such as NPR, KPCC, The Inside Source and the New York Times. She has developed content for many luxury brands and retailers and has written for Allure, Worth Global Style Network, Footwear News and other media outlets.