Social commerce site Polyvore allows people to track fashion and beauty products that are trending online.

Polyvore allows both buyers and brands to create content for its site. Users import content from the web using a Polyvore tool called the clipper tool. This allows people to import clothing, home décor, or other beauty products. These products are combined into a collage using Polyvore’s editor tool. Each item links back to the product’s originating website, which results in hundreds of thousands of clicks to external websites each month, according to Polyvore

Polyvore’s Promoted Trends and Social Shopping

The community that drives the site is composed of “fashionistas and designers,” says the company blog.

A visit to the home page will reveal collages and images that are trending with this community. Categories revolve around fashion, beauty, and home décor. And users can navigate by trends – such as ripped jeans, canvas backpacks, and summer dresses.

Each subcategory drills down into a detailed exploration of the trend, allowing users to discover new products and features that interest them. Since this is a user-created and user-curated site, it offers a more authentic feel than algorithm driven recommendation engines, like Amazon’s. 

This is perhaps one reason the site is so popular with fashionistas: users deliberately drive the content, instead of relying heavily on data. But Polyvore is also an outlet for brands to establish a presence and promote their own products.

Promoted Trends is a recent addition to the site that allows brands to promote their own products. If luxury watches are trending, for instance, then a luxury watch retailer can promote their own products at the top of the feed.

Polyvore’s business model presents value for both its users and businesses who partner with it. Users can find relevant products that interest them, and businesses can promote their products to this community of passionate users.

Though Polyvore’s business model is slightly different from some other social shopping sites, it does share a common core feature: user-driven trends. In Polyvore’s case, users themselves contribute the content. And Polyvore’s algorithms simply aggregate the user-created content into trends.

In each type of social shopping site, users and computers contribute different amounts…

Types of Social Shopping Sites

There are five types of social shopping sites:

1. Group Shopping Sites

Groupon is an example of a group shopping site.

This type of site encourages people to buy together to receive discounts and wholesale rates.

2. Shopping Communities

These are user-driven communities where people discuss and share information about products.

3. Recommendation Engines

A recommendation engine is one of the major driving forces in the ecommerce world.

Amazon’s recommended products, YouTube’s recommended videos, and ad retargeting are examples of recommendation algorithms at work.

These algorithms rely on people’s past data, as well as advice from social connections and friends, to generate shopping recommendations.

4. Social Shopping Marketplaces

Polyvore is an example of a social marketplace.

This brings buyers and sellers together under one roof so they can connect and communicate about products.

In this model, the marketplace acts as a discovery engine for buyers and a facilitator for sellers. And, in Polyvore’s case, their Promoted Trends allows them to act as a promotional tool for the sellers.

5. Shared Shopping Mechanisms

These allow shoppers to collaborate on an ad hoc basis with other shoppers and retailers.

IBM calls this “coshopping,” which allows two or more people to shop online simultaneously. One shopper leads, while one or more other shoppers follow.

Trends in Social Shopping

Social shopping is still evolving. And we will continue to see new trends and possibilities emerge as the shopping sites themselves grow.

Different sites focus on different aspects of the social buying experience. Some, like Wanelo, create Pinterest-like boards that people can pin items to. Others add custom browser buttons that let people collect items from across the web.

Yet others, like Luvocracy, also offer rewards for using its services. Luvocracy really encourages the social aspect, by gamifying the rewards system and encouraging shopping based on other members’ recommendations.

Social shopping elements are also used widely by major tech companies and social networks. Google Play’s recommendation system, for instance, highlights your friends’ recommendations and reviews. And this type of social recommendation system is a major part of Facebook’s targeting strategy.

Facebook’s approach to social shopping is, perhaps, the most complex of them all. Since the company has access to so much data, it can incorporate social data in ways that most shopping sites cannot.

But Facebook brings much more to the social shopping table. With the company’s recent acquisition of The Find, for instance, it can integrate local retail information along with its repertoire of personalized targeting data, from personal interests to friends’ recommendations.


Social shopping will undoubtedly keep growing over time. After all, it’s common knowledge in the marketing world that people value their friends’ opinions over the opinions of algorithms.