Imran Khan, Co-founder & CEO Verishop & Former Chief Strategy Officer Snap.
The wait is over.
A new retail website, called Verishop, is going live Tuesday, with the goal of bringing “joy back to online shopping,” as it goes head-to-head with platforms like Amazon.
Last November, word leaked out that Imran Khan, who had been Snap‘s No. 2 executive until he departed in September, was developing some sort of website. A few months later, the e-commerce platform had a name — Verishop — and a mission to relieve some of the frustrations up-and-coming brands have expressed regarding existing sites that have counterfeit products or that hurt brand integrity.
Khan, who worked in the banking industry for a decade before he joined Snap, is being helped in this effort by his wife, Cate Khan, who worked at Quidsi when it was owned by Amazon and cosmetics giant Avon.
“I think our vision is to be the best home for brands,” Khan said in an interview ahead of the launch. “Whenever the consumer is looking for branded product, we want to be their first destination. … There is massive growth of direct-to-consumer brands.”
Khan said many brands, like home-decor company Hawkins New York and denim maker AG, “need an outlet,” where they can all be discovered together in one place.
“While there are a lot of choices in physical retail stores, there are not a lot of choices in the e-commerce space.”
In many ways, Verishop aims to be a high-end and online version of a department store. And that’s at a time when traditional department store chains’ bricks-and-mortar stores are struggling.
Verishop, a new kind of retail website for apparel and home goods, launches on Tuesday.
Verishop is launching with roughly 150 brands — and growing — already signed on. Those include apparel makers Levi’s, AllSaints, DVF and Citizens of Humanity; home-goods retailer Boll & Branch; make-up company Lily Lola and skin-care line Kora Organics. The business model works in that Verishop actually buys the inventory from brands, first, to prevent counterfeit goods getting on the site “and shady third-party sellers [that] don’t have a place on our platform.” It hopes this will help build trust with consumers, too.
“Verishop is bringing together a number of high-quality, like-minded brands that share our vision and our values, so a partnership feels very natural,” Boll & Branch founder and CEO Scott Tannen said.
“Traditional mass-market retailers are generally only focused on convenience, offering a broad range of sub-to-adequate quality products conveniently located under one roof,” he said. “Verishop is different … their team finds the very best quality products and brings them to their customers.”
Verishop also offers free, two-day shipping with no minimum purchase, free returns and a 24/7 customer-service portal on the web.
Another unique part of the website is a section called Tastemakers, which gives select influencers a place to pick their favorite items from Verishop and promote them to their fans. It’s launching with seven influencers, including lifestyle Youtuber Tiffany Ma, who has more than 1.8 million subscribers, and singer and beauty vlogger Jess Conte, who has 2.1 million followers on Instagram. Each influencer has his or her own page on Verishop for their “top picks” and a short description of why those items were selected.
The “Tastemakers” page on Verishop is where select influences can tout their favorite products and brands.
“They are opinion leaders,” Kahn said, adding that it’s like letting these influencers have their own “boutiques” on Verishop. Over time, the number of influencers working with Verishop will grow, he said.
Verishop also has a “Responsible Shop” for brands and products that “uphold a higher level of social consciousness.” This could include beauty products not tested on animals, or apparel sourced from organic and fair-trade materials.
“E-commerce is only just getting started in the U.S.,” Kahn said about the need for a platform like Verishop. “We’re in the first or second inning of it. … I think we are building a business at a time when we are closer to 10% [online penetration].”
To date, Verishop has raised $17.5 million from investors, led by Lightspeed Ventures.
Disclosure: CNBC parent NBCUniversal is an investor in Snap.