May 082013

I read about Wanelo as a sort of new way for shoppers to interact with each other by sharing wish lists, tagging friends on items, and following certain stores and people. The “posting things I want” aspect is pretty reminiscent of Pinterest (though that’s not Pinterest’s expressed function, it’s frequently used that way), with the huge difference that the photos are directly linked to stores. Social online shopping originally made me extremely uncomfortable, but after thinking about it for a while, I realized that shopping is, for some, a very social activity. With friends who largely communicate online, would it really be that much of a stretch for them to shop online together as well?


Figure 1. WANELO online shopping

Since its inception the website has become very popular. The utility of being able to follow people online (say, fashion bloggers or your friends) and see what they have selected from shops, with the added ability to purchase that item, takes a few steps out of the shopping process. So in a way, shopping online becomes more or a social activity than it was previously, and fans of fashion are able to more easily purchase things recommended to them by stores (if they choose), friends, or fashion bloggers.

My hesitancy about this is very similar to my hesitancy about fashion blogs and sponsored posts. The line between expression and shilling a product is very thin in that regard, and even though most fashion bloggers announce what posts are sponsored and profess not to have a sponsored post for a product that they do not care for, it seems unlikely that everyone would be able to differentiate sponsored posts, and that the motivation of money had little to do with the choice of sponsorship in the first place. Wanelo as a service is easy to critique on a consumption basis, but I get more concerned about the information certain stores might have on you after you start selecting and tagging your friends in their products. Before clearing out my browser, I had the same advertisement for a pair of shoes that I had looked at following me everywhere online, so I imagine that problem might be exacerbated for those that frequently select products on Wanelo.


Figure 2. Following 3 stores

Online shopping is usually risky when it comes to privacy and retaining information about yourself, but it seems like for those not particularly careful, services like Wanelo can make for uncomfortable marketing experiences in the future. I can definitely see that Wanelo has its uses and value, but I worry about the information that might potentially get shared, and who it would get shared with.

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