This post is part of a series on ecommerce startups.
The advent of online shopping has threatened to divorce buying stuff from talking to people for good. It’s a shame, because socializing and new stuff acquisition are a potent combo when it comes to raising one’s self esteem.
Not to mention, as Gretchen Weiners once said, “You wouldn’t buy a skirt without asking your friends first if it looks good on you.”
That’s where Whisp comes in. The website and iPad app has a native messaging feature built in. Connected via Facebook, shoppers can drag and drop items into conversations with their friends, even those who aren’t on Whisp. As a bonus, the app combines 21 retailers so that everything from Urban Outfitters to Givenchy can be found in one place.
The idea for Whisp came from the cofounder Moncef Zizi’s wife, he told Betabeat.
“I would often observe her at night open 10 different browser windows,” he said. “She would open all these tabs and also have a Facebook or gchat window open and would copy and paste, link back and forth, and have these long conversations with two or three of her friends.”
No one had addressed this irritating issue, Mr. Zizi said, so he joined Karoon Monfared and Gassin Meknassi to create a hybrid shopping and messaging platform.
The founders created a seamless shopping interface with tons of clothes, accessories and shoes for men and women. They monitor the site constantly to make sure there aren’t any dead links, which they hope will give them a leg up over other ecommerce aggregation sites like Pinterest.
The messaging service comes complete with its own fashion industry emoticons. There’s a cartoon Kardashian saying, “Klassy!”, for example, as well as likenesses of Karl Lagerfeld, Sarah Jessica Parker and Grace Coddington.
Whisp offers merchandise from Urban Outfitters, SSENSE, Stylebop, Lane Crawford, Avenue 32, Browns Fashion, Farfetch, Gilt, Luisaviaroma, MatchesFashion, mytheresa, Nordstrom (which includes Topshop and Topman), Yoox, the corner, Portero, Montaigne Market, Uniqlo, Oki-Ni, boutique1, Antonioli and Forzieri.