Private investment firm Comvest Partners acquires the financially troubled e-retailer, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March.
The WeShop platform enables consumers to receive offers from retailers.
New York, Aug. 4, 2010-- WeShop, a one year old New York-based start-up operating in private beta, today announced that it has completed a $4.25 million Series A round of funding.
The funding was provided by Jonathan Miller, chairman and CEO, Digital Media Group of News Corp. and former America Online CEO; Frank Kenny of Delta Partners, a venture capital firm established in Ireland in 1994 with €230 million (US$304.5 million) under management; and Martin White, and Carlos Sala, respectively the former founder/CEO, and chief financial officer, of Abacus Direct, which was sold to Doubleclick in 2000.
Antony Lee, founder and CEO of WeShop, describes WeShop as the world’s first consumer network where consumers utilize their own anonymized shopping data to lead retailers and brands to make them great offers through the WeShop platform. This results in drastically lower prices, and a radically improved shopping experience.
"Our goal is to create a fundamental change in the manner in which consumers make purchases," says Lee, a serial entrepreneur who has successfully created a number of e commerce related businesses. "We show consumers how they can acquire power by forming a virtual consumer network, anonymously pooling their shopping information, and then attracting great offers on all the things they want to buy from groceries, to clothes, to airline tickets.”
In addition, the WeShop platform allows merchants and brands on a CPA basis to precisely target consumers with fully permission, opt-in offers, which is more efficient and less risky than traditional search engine marketing.
Currently operating in invitation-only mode, with a waiting list of consumers indicating their interest in joining WeShop when it moves out of beta, WeShop already has more than 100,000 members registered on its free platform. Members can share information on a fully anonymous basis about what they are buying, where from, and how much they are paying, information previously unavailable on the web. Members can also join specialized “shopping networks” where they can anonymously share information about the things they buy with other consumers with similar interests. For example, there is a network for people interested in sustainable living, another just for Lego enthusiasts, and another for online gamers. WeShop plans to create thousands of similar networks over the next several months.
WeShop gives its members a unique weshop.com e mail address for use when shopping, or members can join using their existing e mail. Their anonymized shopping data including vendor, price, size, color, shipping costs, etc is derived from purchase confirmations and receipts sent as e mail to the WeShop member. When members voluntarily open up their anonymized purchasing data to merchant offers through WeShop, they can drastically reduce the prices they pay. For example, a consumer who buys a particular brand of diapers can receive an offer for a free pack of diapers from a rival brand. Regular purchasers of contact lenses might receive an offer to buy the same lenses at half price, or a recent purchaser of a full price fashion item might get an offer to return the item (via a shipping label to the store it was purchased from) and instead buy the same item at a reduced price.
Participation by consumers is free. WeShop is a opt-in platform for its members who elect to contribute their anonymized purchasing information to WeShop. "The idea is to allow consumers to profit from their own data – it belongs to them and them alone,” says Lee, "In addition, the data allows consumers to compare in real time the prices they pay, say, for airline seats, something the airlines themselves will never share with their customers."
"WeShop is on the forefront of a new movement to use the web to increase consumer power," says Miller, chairman and CEO, Digital Media Group of News Corp., and an investor in WeShop. “They give consumers the tools to profit from their own data. At scale, with millions of users, WeShop can become the new paradigm in purchasing.”
"WeShop members attract offers from merchants and vendors based on their individual needs,” adds Lee. “The member’s identity is kept anonymous at all times, and the only offers they receive through WeShop are ones they expressly want to receive which match their own interests, terms and conditions. For example, a member may tell WeShop only to pass on to her offers that have free shipping. In addition, WeShop members will be able to use a simple search tool to find out where other members have actually bought the product or service they want to buy, how much they paid for it, and what is the most popular model, color or style. This information is currently not available anywhere else on the web."
"The data WeShop has is awesome - exact SKU level descriptions of actual items purchased by anonymous shoppers - which we can use to make offers to consumers shopping elsewhere for items we carry at better prices," says Brad Matson, chief marketing officer at online fashion retailer Bluefly, who is one of the merchants eager to use WeShop's offer platform when it becomes widely available in the next few months. "WeShop represents the next big retail trend as consumers begin to understand their power and the power of their pooled data when coupled with sophisticated internet applications."
WeShop (www.weshop.com) organizes consumers into a powerful network that enables them to receive better pricing and terms from retailers and brands, and share information about the products and services they buy. The New York-based company is privately held.