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New Shopping App Mavely Solves One Big Problem for DTCs

Fashion tech startup Mavely is letting regular consumers become influencers—and earn rewards in the process.

The curated shopping and discovery platform launched on Wednesday, allowing users to browse, buy and recommend selections to friends in exchange for 5 percent back on purchases.

The app features more than 100 direct-to-consumer brands and more than 15,000 products from popular upstarts like Allbirds, BarkBox, Brandless, Brooklinen, Home Chef, La Colombe, Little Spoon, M. Gemi, Noom, Sun Basket and more.

The platform also helps DTCs solve the problem of sky-high customer acquisition costs, according to chief executive officer and co-founder Evan Wray.

Brand building in the modern retail era relies heavily on influencer-led marketing strategies, which have proven costly. By contrast, all Mavely users can shop and influence others, allowing brands to capitalize on community engagement while avoiding exorbitant endorsement deals and posting fees.

In harnessing the power of consumers instead of courting influencers, Mavely may be onto something. Consumer insight firm InfluencerDB revealed data in a July study suggesting that influencers’ influence has been declining steadily since 2016.

Instead, shoppers are relying on recommendations from their personal network to sway their purchasing decisions. Consumers are most likely to view friends and family as their most trusted sources for shopping recommendations, at 77 percent and 75 percent respectively, according to a study released by Oracle in July.

Mavely is banking on this concept to win with consumers. The platform’s chief compliance officer and co-founder, Peggy O’Flaherty, said in a release that “everyday shoppers deserve a return on their influence.”

The company plans to add five to 10 new DTC brands to its marketplace each week, spanning multiple categories. By the end of 2019, executives project that the platform will be serving more than 30,000 users. Mavely is backed by a $1 million investment firm PivotNorth Capital, run by Tim Connors, an early investor in SunBasket, Chime and Look.

The concept of peer-to-peer influence on commerce appears to be taking hold, and could pose a real threat to influencer-led strategies, which are looking increasingly hackneyed and insincere. Shopping app Storr, which launched in May, allows users to populate and curate product feeds and sell new, brand name products online to their followers in exchange for a commission of up to 30 percent. And Zyper‘s banking on communities of brand “superfans” as the secret to supplanting traditional and unreliable influencer marketing.