There’s no doubt about it: The way we shop has changed over the last couple decades, and it's only going to keep changing further. Shopping online has taken a life on its own and is quickly becoming preferred to shopping in-store due to its convenience and lack of lines. With technology constantly improving and advancing, and our lives becoming more and more dependent on mobile platforms, brands and retailers have begun launching apps, which make transactions that much easier.
In order to find out what's next in the realm of shopping, we sat down with Simon Beckerman, founder of social media-based shopping app Depop, to chat about what’s in store for the future of retail—a future of which Depop is currently at the forefront.
The fashion and retail landscapes are nothing new for Beckerman. Co-founder of eyewear line Retrosuperfuture and the now-defunct Pig Magazine, it’s clear that Beckerman has an understanding of the industry, how consumers shop, and trends.
Depop is a mobile app which acts as an interactive social marketplace where users—all 5.5 million of them—can connect with one another. They’re able to sell items—as easy as snapping a picture—and purchase from others, which is just as quick of a process.
Aside from the convenience, there are other benefits to shopping via social media. The app’s users follow each other, message each other, and “like” each other’s items for sale in a feed not unlike Instagram’s layout. And, of course, like Instagram, the most influential users—from bloggers and vloggers to celebrities—are the ones racking in hundreds of thousands of likes, as well as sales.
The whole idea is that it allows people to buy everything from cool up-and-coming fashion to rare vintage oddities. But rather than buying from the brands themselves, customers are shopping from users they follow. When following a specific person—be it a celebrity or an influencer, or even just your average person—the user is also shopping that person's closet and essentially owning a part of their personal brand.
Dita von Teese, Frances Bean Cobain, and even Shaq (yes, that Shaq) are just a few of Depop’s devoted celebs, who sell items for their followers to purchase, with high-status bloggers like Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad and Leandra Medine of Man Repeller also on board.
So, knowing all this, is it possible to determine exactly where the future of retail lies? And is it within social media? According to Beckerman, yes, especially in a world that's so influenced by social media stars. “There’s going to be much more connection between the product and the user, and it’s going to be less about brands being the intermediary on a platform."
As Beckerman explains to me, shoppers want to buy a coveted pair of Calvin Klein jeans because they've seen them on their favorite fashion blogger or model. So why not buy directly from the blogger or model instead of going to the Calvin Klein website? “People like to buy these things from their favorite influencers because they feel that they then have a connection with them, rather than going to a brand and buying that T-shirt or those shoes directly from their e-commerce store,” he says. “They like to purchase it if from the person they’re inspired and influenced by.”
He concludes, “I see the future of retail being much more about connecting people together, rather than brands and companies.” What this means for store and brand websites remains to be seen, but the rise of brand-sponsored Instagram content signals that the complete synchronicity between social media and retail is already approaching fast. The future of fashion of is here, and we're just living—and shopping—in it.