Social Shopping Platform Piccing Secures $3.6M Series A Round

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Piccing, the Zurich-headquartered ‘social-shopping’ platform, has secured new funding. It’s raised a $3.62 million Series A round from undisclosed investors — money it will use to fuel its international launch, which kicked off earlier this week.

The company’s web and iOS app lets users upload or bookmark images — the latter, Pinterest-style — wherein they can add up to five hotspots tied to items found in each image, thereby helping to make those images ‘shoppable’. Or another way to think of it is as a form of curation, with users encouraged to categorise and share images.

From here, Piccing’s machine-learning, image recognition and comparison engine kicks in. Users browsing or searching via the platform can click on any image’s hotspots — dubbed ‘piccs’ — to buy the product or see similar items.

This, perhaps unsurprisingly, is powered by the startup’s 334 partner brands, which include Nordstrom, Armani, Booking.com, Swarovski, Zappos, Benefit Cosmetics, and Oakley, and provide affiliate access to over 10.4 million products. It’s also how Piccing generates revenue, by taking a small cut from any subsequent purchase.

However, the idea of making product images on the web ‘shoppable’, in one form or another, isn’t a new idea — though attempts at turning the idea into a business have been met with varying success.

Thinglink, an early mover in the interactive image space, immediately springs to mind.

Meanwhile, competitor Taggstar has since pivoted to provide realtime ‘persuasion’ messaging to e-commerce sites, and another player, PICT, was acquired by Popsugar at the beginning of this year.

Then, of course, there’s Pinterest, which has arguably sewn up the image-based social commerce space.

On the latter, Piccing had this to say:

A good way to think of this is as follows: To Google is to search. To Pin is to show interest. To Picc is to make a choice – e.g. comparison shop, tag items, buy items, etc. Piccing is the next generation shopping experience.

That may be drawing somewhat false lines. Google is as much about ‘intent’ or showing interest, as it is search, enabling it to build a cash cow advertising business by serving ads based on what users are searching for. Likewise, Pinterest is increasingly used to search for products, not just to ‘pin’ items of interest, which has its own comparison shopping knock-on effect.

But, either way, Piccing and its unnamed backers think the startup is on to something.

To that end, the platform claims 39 million unique visitors in November, and says that overall members have “picced” and curated over 1.8 billion items to date.