Social-network shopping site OpenSky.com has just debuted an open social marketplace. The site provides small merchants with the opportunity to manage their own stores within OpenSky’s network of nearly 3 million members who connect to their friends to discover, buy and share unique products.
“Operating exclusively as an online retailer for the last two years, we built pioneering tools for social commerce,” says John Caplan, founder and CEO of OpenSky. “Today, we’re handing these easy-to-use tools over to thousands of small businesses in a platform they can leverage to reach new customers and build their business.”
Merchants can open an OpenSky store for free. The site takes a commission on products sold to OpenSky members with the exception of any sales made to the members that merchants bring into the network when they open their shop.
As OpenSky connects small merchants to OpenSky users—including industry insiders, celebrities and experts—it essentially provides a unique opportunity for brand and product recognition, and sales to spread virally. Basically, as members discover and interact with new products, their activities are shared socially among their OpenSky connections.
"Once fashion editor and stylist Suze Yalof-Schwartz discovered and shared my jewelry with her followers on OpenSky, we immediately began selling out of pieces and had to increase our production," states Angela Parker Kennedy, founder of Olive Yew Jewels. "We've had so many sales on the site, I've had to double the size of my team and move into a bigger studio."
According to a recent online survey by Harris Interactive on behalf of OpenSky, consumers prefer to shop small—with 53% preferring to buy products from small independent businesses and 64% preferring to buy a product that is unique and different rather than mass-produced.
OpenSky’s marketplace is designed to introduce users to new, different and unique goods virally, while merchants can:
- Build and customize a storefront
- Add products
- Tell their brand story with photos and videos
- Invite loyal customers to follow their shop on OpenSky
- Share product updates in their customers’ personal feed
- Program sales and promotions
- Answer customer questions and comments directly using social tools
- Reward loyalty
“OpenSky’s platform makes it easy for me to have a beautifully branded store in a place where people are much more likely to discover it organically,” adds Indie Lee, founder and CEO of Indie Lee & Co. “The site harnesses word of mouth online into an experience that actually converts into sales.”
Merchants can apply at opensky.com/merchant.
[Image courtesy of OpenSky]