Pinterest’s rise has helped highlight the value of social discovery over traditional search for shopping and the lesson hasn’t been lost on competitors. TheFind, a shopping search site with a trove of product data, is going after Pinterest with the launch of Glimpse, a new Facebook shopping discovery app that is built on top of Facebook “like” data. The app curates shopping pages for users based on their likes, as well the stuff their friends like.
While Pinterest has taught people to pin the stuff they like from the web, Glimpse takes the existing data from Facebook’s open graph and marries it with its database of 500 million products and 500,000 stores. TheFind’s CEO Siva Kumar told me TheFind has been working with Facebook for some time to bridge the two data sets, mapping a user’s likes to products, their taxonomy and a user’s profile. Now, when a Glimpse user likes a page, the service can determine what product the URL is referring to, can pull up the most recent availability and pricing data and also fit it into different styles and trends.
Leveraging the like
This was no easy task, said Kumar, but the result is an immediate Pinterest rival that is already informed by a user’s Facebook activity. Users don’t have to follow anyone or like anything further to immediately get a flow of products that are tailored to their tastes. The site presents products from the brands they’ve already liked, the products that their friends are liking now and also mixes in products that fit their style or are currently hot.
Facebook users are currently liking 2.7 billions things a day and the average user has about seven shopping likes. If they want to add to their experience, Glimpse users can just use the Facebook like button on many retailers sites to bookmark their favorites on their Glimpse page. They can also organize their page by creating separate catalogs, similar to Pinterest boards.
For brands, this is a way to get more out of their investment in social integration, Kumar said. He said there are about 100 million products that are currently tracked with like buttons with about 70 percent of top commerce sites using likes. He said now all that like data has a better shot at leading to a sale. Glimpse only presents products that can be purchased.
Search is a task, discovery is fun
The company — which got started in 2005 and has $27 million in funding from Redpoint Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Bain Capital Ventures — has built a huge database of products by trawling the web, gathering up all kinds of data on every item it can find. It also gets information direct from partner retailers. While that has helped build a successful shopping search engine, Kumar says the momentum is now behind finding products through social discovery.
“Search is a task whereas discovering things you like is fun, and Glimpse is all about shopping just for fun,” Kumar said. “What makes Glimpse a potential game-changer is that it steers the retail industry away from the diminishing returns of search and price comparison and toward growth opportunities merchandizing soft goods in a way that leverages their existing investment in Facebook’s platform.”
The service will start as a Facebook app but iOS (s aapl) and Android (s goog) apps should be available in the coming weeks. TheFind is trying to show Pinterest how it can be better turn social discovery into social commerce. It reminds me of Fancy, another social discovery site that is marrying user interest to a big database of product information. The race is on to figure out how to really make social discovery lucrative. Pinterest was trying to use affiliate links for a time to make money but it still hasn’t sorted out a bigger plan to generate revenue from its users.
I think Glimpse has got a lot of smart back-end work in place though it remains to be seen if people will gravitate toward it as people have with Pinterest. Pinterest has taken off, in part, because it’s not just about discovering products but about expressing yourself through curation. People don’t necessarily think of the Facebook like button in the same way, as a tool for curating their favorite stuff. But I think Glimpse is still a good effort to make the most of all that Facebook like data and potentially make some serious money from it.