September 24, 2010, 2:07 PM

Bluefly digs deep into consumer shopping data

A new tool from WeShop enables retailers to tailor offers for shoppers.

Lead Photo

Bluefly Inc., which sells apparel and accessories on the web, has started to test a tool that enables the retailer to learn more about consumers’ shopping histories and use them to design purchase offers.

The tool, from start-up WeShop, relies on consumers signing up with WeShop at its web site, giving the company access to purchase and e-mail data. Members share information with the WeShop network about purchase details, including where items were bought and for how much. In return, a consumer would receive tailored offers, including discounts, from retailers that work with WeShop.

Consumers, whose personal identities are masked, can join WeShop networks that focus on particular products or consumer lifestyles—for instance, sustainable living or online games—and, through those networks, compare prices and trade shopping information with other consumers. The access to consumer e-mail data—consumers who sign up receive an @weshop.com e-mail account for online shopping—enables WeShop to scan e-mails to find information about purchases and receipts, adding to the consumer behavior database.

All this information enables merchants, working through WeShop, to offer items and discounts tailored to specific consumer interests. Retailers pay WeShop a percentage of sales completed through the system.

Bluefly, for instance, could use WeShop data to find shoppers who have bought prom-related products, says Bradford Matson, the retailer’s chief marketing officer. That data could lead to the retailer making offers to those consumers for dresses. “The notion is to go and find fashion customers,” he says. “Anytime I can get closer to actual consumer data, I am happy.”

WeShop, which remains in beta testing, is working with 12 merchants and 130,000 consumers, says Antony Lee, the company’s founder and CEO. His goal is to recruit tens of millions of consumers to participate, which would make WeShop a more attractive marketing vehicle for online retailers. “When a merchant wants to find buyers on Google, they go through a complex process of keyword management and cost-per-click charges,” he says. “If merchants come into WeShop, everyone they can find on the site is a buyer.”

Earlier this year, WeShop raised $4.15 million in the company’s initial investment round. Investors include Jonathan Miller, chairman and CEO of the Digital Media Group of News Corp., and Frank Kenny of Delta Partners, an Ireland-based venture capital firm.

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