Fancy Takes On Pinterest with Social Commerce Platform

Image-based sites like Pinterest have recreated online the simple pleasure of cutting pictures out of magazines for inspiration. But even those who like to DIY sometimes feel the urge to b-u-y. If you like Lucky Magazine, you’ll love Fancy.

Like Pinterest, Fancy is a place for curating taste. When you like an item posted by another user, you “fancy” it, as the Britishism goes. You can also add a “fancy it” link to your toolbar to post items on Fancy that you find on other sites.

But what really sets Fancy apart is that the pinboard is also a high-end boutique where shoppers can buy what they see directly from the site and through the iPad, iPhone, and Android apps. The categories mirror that of a department store, with “men’s,” “women’s,” “gadgets,” and “food” serving as store windows into the virtual shops inside. There is both a “buy” and a “sell” button, which might also give higher-end Etsy designers a reason to check it out.

Based in New York City, the company recently raised $10 million in a round of funding led by PPR, the French company that owns Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, and other leading fashion brands. Fancy’s board members include high-profile entrepreneurs like Jack Dorsey of Twitter and Square and Chris Hughes of Facebook.

So far, Fancy has 250,000 users and endorsements from celebrities like Kanye West. Early adopters are really into designer clothes, BMWs, and high-end electronics, not to mention the magazine-quality images they post on the site.

The company has made 400 partnerships with brands and 150,000 deals since it first appeared in 2010. Fast Company noted that Fancy is still exploring business models like affiliate networks and Groupon-style deals. (Given the aspirational nature of the brands involved, the site might not draw the same thrifty crowd as Groupon.) Right now the transactions are limited to the U.S.

Fancy’s largest competitor, Pinterest, also has an affiliates program that tracks the pins that lead to sales, but so far there’s no “buy now” button.  In fact,  Pinterest also lends itself well to non-commercial uses, like the Pin a Quote tool a designer came up with to make favorite sayings more visually pleasing. Still, with more than 10 million users, the online pinboard has a bigger user base to work with.

Would you go to a site like Fancy to shop? Let us know in the comments.

Image by iamDim via Fancy.

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