How To Shop With Friends In The Midst Of A Pandemic
Blog post written by Akash Mandavilli (CEO & Founder of Rex Friends Inc.)
The pandemic has quite literally taken a wrecking ball (s/o Miley) to the traditional form of shopping. One of the victims of this unforeseen disaster was the vibrant mall presence. The first to fall were the large department stores, an antique of British wealth. Next, came the individual brands who failed to ride the e-commerce learning curve. In this desperate battle royale, the remaining fighters are doubling down on their online presence and offerings.
Despite its casualties, e-commerce brings efficiency and consumer surplus that in-person shopping could never compete with. Yet even with the advances in virtual try-on features, one important question remains unanswered: is the future of shopping about efficiency rather than enjoyment and socializing?
To answer this mystery, a new industry was born. Social commerce personalized recommendations, solidified influencer marketing, and blurred the lines between shopping and social media. However, it failed to help consumers connect in the way they could at a mall.
To me, the mall has always been a form of leisure in which I could spend time with friends and communally decide on the best fit. Without replicating that conversation and community, e-commerce has become an endless advertisement. Anonymous review systems, “personalized” recommendations, and a growing army of social media influencers have taken a recreation activity and turned it into a car dealership. Are the days of laughing, browsing, and shopping with friends a relic of a forgotten era?
Leaving for college made me realize the value of a social shopping experience. I struggled to afford the time to go to the mall and resented online shopping alone. This left me wearing free t-shirts, sweatpants, and a classic maroon hoodie that my friends could spot a mile away. Eventually, I began sending dozens of screenshots to crowdsource the best fit. I thought this was a great fix until I found it tiresome to dive through an ocean of messages and make sense of all the different responses. Back to the maroon hoodie.
For years, I waited for an innovative company to bring the mall experience online. Cue the first widespread quarantine (in my lifetime): Rex was born. The intention behind Rex is to lean into our natural tendencies to shop together and gather feedback. Rex allows users to ask friends or family for feedback in one click. This feedback is then gathered in a dashboard so you can store what your peers thought of the product. Our goal is to simplify the shopping experience as much as possible. Instead of relying on algorithms and subtle manipulation, we want to replicate the shopping mall experience by allowing you to connect with your friends on product choices. The best part? Your friends dont need to use Rex for you to ask them for feedback.
To the decisive shoppers: you represent the best of us! However, we still want to make your lives easier. To do so, we’ve introduced a save for later feature in which you can store any product from any website in your dashboard. Say goodbye to dozens of tabs, say hello to Rex.
Rex is on a mission to socialize e-commerce. We will combine the best elements of in-person and online shopping to bring the mall to you. Stay tuned for new features such as polling, closets to organize your Rex, sort/search, and many others. Join the movement (rexfriends.com) and help us create the new shopping normal.
P.S. Let us know how we can further improve your online shopping experience : )