Social commerce spotlight: Social network CafeMom launches crowdsourcing shopping platform The Prowl
Long-standing social network for moms and moms-to-be CafeMom has made its first foray into social shopping with The Prowl, a site set to take on up-and-comer The Hunt, designed around the idea of crowdsourced shopping assistance.
Mimicking the likes of Pinterest, Wanelo and Wish, The Prowl is essentially another product aggregator, allowing users to browse, search and create collections of items (also called ‘Boards’), as well as connecting with others, and finding and following friends.
What sets the site apart though is its focus on the social element of shopping with friends, and asking one another for their advice and opinions. As such, users are able to ask the community for help in finding specific products, or offer advice in return. A user might ask: ‘Looking for cute furniture for a small living room’, and beneath the query (which appears on the site’s front page) a list of suggestions is shown, along with a button for users to add theirs.
The site also has a decidedly grounded bent; where the likes of Pinterest offers aspirational living ideas, The Prowl is geared towards inspirational – but realistic – purchases. This is borne particularly of the site’s focus on a different demographic to the usual scrapbooking sites. As CafeMom co-founder and EVP Tracy Odell says: “$3,000 handbags are great to look at, but we don’t know too many of our friends who are actually buying them. We wanted to see items that were a little less aspirational, but still inspirational – things we could potentially actually buy for ourselves, our kids or our homes.
“On other sites you might see a dream bedroom board, but our user is actually redecorating her bedroom and looking for real ideas, not dream ideas,” she adds.
The Prowl currently features several thousand products from a variety of retailers, and currently points to e-commerce stores and collects affiliate income, but there are plans in place to monetise later on. CafeMom currently reaches over 15m visitors a month – a long way off Pinterest’s 70m, but nonetheless a solid user base to tap into and get the ball rolling.