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How The Fancy is Primed For Social Commerce Success (Sorry, Pinterest)

While Pinterest remains wildly popular with the visual social sharing crowd, the bulk of its usage revolves around sharing things like recipes, craft projects, pictures of celebrities, and home improvement ideas – none of which are the sort of thing that generate revenue for the site. The Fancy, however, has made a move to decisively turn its visual social sharing platform into a social commerce platform. Instead of just sharing pictures of things you’d love to own, you actually have the option right there on the screen to buy it with the Add to Cart button. The Fancy Coasters

And not only can you immediately buy the product you fancied, you can click on the “Organize a group gift” link to email friends and family to gather contributions so you can all go in on a gift together for someone you know. Maybe you wouldn’t need to do that for the Record Coasters pictured above, but that $500 garden shower your cousin fancied might make a great group gift at her bridal shower next month.

Imagine if Pinterest had similar capabilities, where you could buy the things that you pinned with a simple shopping cart utility. A lot of people I know would soon be broke, that’s for sure, but I don’t think Pinterest could pull off the same thing. The Fancy, while still growing, had about half a million users at summer’s end. Pinterest had over 10 million users at this time – and pins go up a lot more frequently than fancies do. Adding shopping cart capabilities for every item shared on the site just isn’t scalable at that sort of volume.(My PayPal account is grateful for that, at least.)

In addition to the “buy now” option on fancied items, The Fancy also has the Fancy Box, a subscription service that sends people a monthly box of items featured on the site for $30. It seems to me like a much “fancier” version of Woot’s $5 Box of Crap. You take your chances each month to see what sort of fancy things will get sent your way. The Fancy says that the retail value of each box is at least $60, so it seems like the novelty of getting a surprise in the mail each month would be worth your while if you’re always looking for new knick-knacks to spruce up your space. And it seems to be working for The Fancy. In May, the site was bringing in $50,000 a week. In July, that increased to $75,000 a week. They’re poised to bring in even more with the new subscription service.

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The Fancy also gives bloggers the capability to earn 2% commission on sales made through their Buy Now links deposited into their Fancy account, giving bloggers more incentive to share fancies with their readers, thus growing the social network’s user base. Users can also earn money in their Fancy accounts by referring friends. As a blogger, I confess that the ability to monetize things I already share voluntarily is very attractive. They do run the risk, though, of detracting from the art of the visual by essentially “selling out.” But even if the artistic purists erode away from The Fancy’s user base in protest, will that really harm the site? Perhaps they won’t mind losing eyeballs that will never convert to sales.

Should Pinterest Be Worried?

I suppose that depends on whether or not their own attempt at monetization via affiliate links pays off enough in the end. As previously mentioned, it may not be feasible for Pinterest to add shopping cart functionality to pins, but they might be able to follow in The Fancy’s footsteps as far as offering a subscription service of selected items. The Fancy seems to have harnessed the power of social commerce quite successfully, and they are positioned to ride it all the way to the bank.

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