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Today, Fab.com is launching its third and most ambitious version of the site, and CEO Jason Goldberg said it’s going to remind you of window-shopping with your best friends.
“Imagine you’re shopping with your friends, and one of them picks up a shirt and says, ‘Oh, that’s cute!’ We think we can replicate that online,” the founder told VentureBeat in a recent phone call.
Fab is accomplishing this not just with a few dinky plug-ins or add-ons, but with a wholesale redesign that will “really get the experience of shopping with friends — not just what they bought, but what they’re tweeting, what their pinning, what they’re liking,” Goldberg said.
The relaunched Fab homepage will feature algorithmically derived featured products based on real-time activity from Fab members. It will also show you a ticker for what’s being bought at any given moment.
Starting today, members can see what their friends from various social networks are noticing and buying in real time. They can also choose to pin items on Pinterest or even make a purchase directly from this live feed.
And Fab is bringing a much-needed search module to the site, so you can drill down for specific products, designers, and categories.
The new Fab.com will also feature Smile pages to give members in-depth profiles and stories about the designers behind Fab’s product inventory.
“It’s about making people smile,” said Goldberg. “We’re showing them that e-commerce can be fun. … We care more about that, about the long-term relationship, than just about making money.”
Here’s a sneak peek at the new designs:
Getting social shopping right
“We want to take the fab product and design up another level … we want to reimagine social shopping.”
As a longtime Fab fan myself, I cringe at the thought of bringing more noise and clutter to the clean, lean shopping experience I’ve grown to appreciate. But Goldberg and the rest of the Fab team, ever focused on great design, are several steps ahead of me, natch.
“Everything we do has to be well-designed,” the CEO said. “Social can’t be a bolt-on; it has to be part of the core experience and designed really, really well. I personally design everything that goes on the screen … a virtual product doesn’t get on Fab unless I think it’s a great product.”
Last year, Fab brought its members a live feed feature to show Fab members’ buying, fave-ing, and liking activity in real time. The decision to focus on the social side was a direct result of Fab’s organic social activity: More than half its members as of last December had come to the site through social channels.
“It has to be authentic,” Goldberg told us. “Up to 40 percent of our traffic comes from social feeds. You can’t force that. Social isn’t just a way to get something from the user; it’s a way to give value to the user. The traffic will come when you deliver a great experience.”
In the end, the live feed turned out to be a huge success, with 15 percent of visits to the feed resulting in an actual purchase. That metric proved to the Fab team that a more social direction could also be more profitable.
The growth continues
As previously mentioned, Fab’s growth has been a bit legendary in the tech startup scene.
One of its more recent success stories involved integrating with Facebook’s Timeline. The startup saw a 50 percent increase in traffic from Facebook since its Actions integration) at the beginning of 2012.
“Now, we’re at 3.25 million users in the U.S., nearly 4.25 million worldwide, and we’re a couple weeks shy of our first birthday,” said Goldberg.
One area of growth that’s still a bit mysterious is Pinterest. “We get about 2 percent of our traffic from Pinterest today,” said Goldberg. “That number came out of nowhere in February, and it’s held steady since then.”
But Fab users have expressed a deep and abiding love for Pinterest, and the Fab team is making pinning more integral to the Fab.com experience. That 2 percent might see a bit of an increase as a result.
Combating feature creep
Fab’s new-feature rollout schedule is unrelenting, but Goldberg said he and the rest of the team have an eye on feature creep and will always aim to maintain Fab’s simplicity — one of the things that makes the site such a pleasure to use in the first place.
“Keep it simple. The best design gets out of users’ way and lets them do what they want to get done,” he told us.
“A lot of sites end up building silos of features. If you go to Fab.com today, in our top navigation, there are eight different items. We’re simplifying that to four in the new release.”
He concluded, “Even when you add, you make it simpler.”
Fab.com launched in June 2011 and has received $51.3 million in funding to date. Its most recent cash infusion was a stunning $40 million Series B last December.
Image courtesy of Robbi, Shutterstock