NEW YORK, May 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — OpenSky.com, the social network for shopping where people connect with their friends to discover, buy and share unique things, announces today, the launch of an open social marketplace where small merchants can apply to open and manage their own stores within the company’s network of nearly 3 million members.
“Operating exclusively as an online retailer for the last two years, we built pioneering tools for social commerce,” said 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.”
As with all social networks OpenSky users design their own experience by connecting to other people. The launch of OpenSky’s marketplace offers them the ability to connect, interact and share with thousands of small merchants from around the country as well. It will enhance the ever-changing assortment of goods for users to discover, shop and share with friends both within the network and outside.
“There is a growing appetite to discover products that are unique and different, not mass produced,” said Caplan. “The OpenSky marketplace is the social platform that connects people with extraordinary things and the small businesses who make them.”
According to a recent survey by Harris Interactive, 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.1
For small merchants, connecting directly to OpenSky users including the many industry insiders, celebrities and experts using the network offers a unique opportunity for their brand and products to spread virally within a community focused on shopping. As members discover and interact with new products, their activities are shared socially among their OpenSky connections, creating a ripple-effect of discovery within the network.
“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,” said 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.”
For merchants, opening a store on OpenSky is free. The site takes a commission on products sold to OpenSky members with the exception of any sales made to those members a merchant brings into the network when they open their shop.
Here’s how the experience works for merchants, they:
- Build and customize a store front
- 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,” said 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 by visiting opensky.com/merchant.
OpenSky is a social network for shopping where people connect with their friends to discover, buy and share unique things. Since it launched on April 5, 2011, nearly 3 million members and thousands of small brands have joined the OpenSky network.
For more information on OpenSky contact: Emily Lawi, VP Communications – Emily@OpenSky.com
1This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of OpenSky from April 10-12, 2013 among 2,036 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Leah Lefco, OpenSky, firstname.lastname@example.org.