WeShop Blends Q&A With Purchase Data To Socialize Shopping History

WeShop is hoping to shake up the online shopping space with its platform that allows consumers to share purchase information on a free and anonymous basis.

In private beta, WeShop allows consumers to pool their purchasing information which is available to other WeShop members. WeShop then analyzes and sells this data for vendors. Here’s the catch-consumers have to give WeShop access to your e-mail account or your credit card number. That way, when you use your credit card for a purchase or if you buy something online and receive an email receipt, WeShop will flag it and insert it into your profile

The benefit for the consumer is the ability to access other’s data, which WeShop makes anonymous. For example, consumers can make available information about the fare they paid for a particular seat on a particular plane and where they bought the ticket from. Members can then find out from WeShop what is the lowest fare paid for that flight and where that ticket was purchased, so the member who is looking to buy a ticket can benefit from the “wisdom of the crowd” and buy his seat from the same place.

If it can scale, WeShop eventually wants to allows consumers to share with each other or search for information that isn’t necessarily published by retailers. For example, “What color dress is most popular this season?,” “What coffee maker are people like me buying?,” and “Where are most large men buying their big and tall apparel from?”

On the business side, WeShop sells the anonymous data of shopping habits and history to local businesses and retailers. The whole platform is opt-in on the consumer side, so consumers know that their history will be shared. Vendors can also approach them with targeted offers to meet those needs (though vendors are not given consumers’ email info; everything is communicated through WeShop).

WeShop members can also set their own terms on which they will do business with vendors (only free shipping offers, only discounts or more than 30 percent, etc.) WeShop also enables consumers with similar interests to accumulate into virtual, anonymous marketplaces (or networks) that aim to attract better offers from vendors given the number of potential buyers. In terms of monetization, WeShop takes a cut of a purchase that takes place through its leads for vendors and retailers.

WeShop says it already has more than 15,000 members providing data and making more than $20 million in purchases. The startup has also raised $2.8 million in funding from an impressive roster of investors including from Jonathan Miller, Chairman and CEO, Digital Media Group of News Corporation and former America Online CEO.

The idea of WeShop is similar in some ways to Blippy or Swipely, which both allow you to share your purchase data with others to gain new insight. One challenge for WeShop, besides convincing consumers to fork over their email account and credit card info, is to actually drive enough traction to WeShop’s site to make it worth it for both consumers and businesses. In exchange for essentially giving up their privacy, consumers need to see some benefit to joining the community. While the site is still in private beta, the 15K members don’t seem to be interacting on the Q&A part of the site. If WeShop can actually build a solid base of consumers who are willing to contribute and interact with the platform (similar to the interactions and conversations you see on a Q&A site like Quora), then the site could take off.