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Lara Aldag believes that online shopping can be social, fun, and empowering. "Think about how we used to shop. You used to go to the mall with five of your friends and your mom to look for things, and you would all buy stuff together."
That's the experience Lara wants to bring to Higgle, the social shopping site she started to let customers share their favorite things and secure group pricing discounts on items that they want to buy. It's not a flash sale. It's not liquidation. It's an online shopping experience that combines the bargaining element of a bazaar with the convenience of a computer. And it's based right here in San Francisco.
Aldag, the company's CEO, explains that Higgle partners with vendors to offer products ranging from apparel and accessories to home goods. While anyone can buy a single product on the site, a shopper can get a lower price by creating an offer to a merchant, also known as a higgle. Users can also assemble their own sharable, mini-markets for products, like Priceline meets Pinterest. To get the lowest price possible, all you need is seven people to buy the same product. It's a way to use your social influence to save money.
Social shopping isn't a novel idea. Flash sale sites like Groupon and Living Social pioneered the movement, encouraging customers to promote deals among their friends to receive a group discount or a free item. Then came Pinterest, which focused on curation. Though Pinners can prove their style chops on the site, Pinterest lacks a direct shopping component. Bay Area sites Threadflip and Poshmark embraced the Pinterest curation concept and let shoppers make purchases through their sites, but both lack the means to harness group buying power. Aldag thinks the Higgle formula combines the best of all of those worlds: Shoppers can influence everything on the site from current inventory to new products to pricing.
Higgle is currently focusing on boutique brands, like Original Grain watches and Cisco Adler's Sicky Sunglasses, but Lara says that the company is in talks to bring several better-known bridge brands on board. (Because negotiations are ongoing, Lara declined to name names, but she indicated that these are companies that usually sell apparel and accessories in the $300-$500 range.)
While Higgle is an online community for now, Lara says she would love to do offline popup in the future. "Think of bazaars and marketplaces in any other country. You go and negotiate, and [vendors] say, 'If you buy two, then I'll give it to you for this price.' That's what we're trying to bring online, and I think a pop-up shop would be awesome."
· Higgle [Official Site]
· Higgle Lets Like-Minded Shoppers Name Their Price When They Buy Together [TechCrunch]