New Shopping Sites Combine Personalization And Social Media, But Experts Warn of a Bubble

Need a little fashion advice? Click onto WingTipIt, a Web site launching this week, and assemble your own virtual closet of clothes you covet—then seek feedback from friends via Facebook. Or if accessories are more your thing, click over to Send the Trend, fill out a quick survey, and you’ll receive a list of jewels, sunglasses, and other accessories tailored to your personal style.

Perhaps you enjoy discovering new designers. No problem: At FashionStake, you can buy the latest offerings from up-and-coming designers, vote for your favorites, and compare notes with other fashionistas.

WingTipIt, Send the Trend, and FashionStake—all based in New York—are just a few of the many shopping sites that have stormed the Web in the last few months. Each has its own twist, but they all share a common goal: to make online shopping way more interactive and personal than the department stores can.

“Retailers are constantly looking for ways to connect with their customers in a meaningful way,” says WingTipIt co-founder Kimberly Skelton, who worked in real estate and marketing before attending Columbia Business School. While a student, she also spent a summer working in the e-commerce group at Tory Burch.

Carla Holtze (left) and Kimberly Skelton of WingTipIt

Skelton’s e-commerce experience infused in her a desire to solve a nagging problem: Retailers can convert browsers into customers much more effectively in bricks-and-mortar stores than they can online. “In stores, customers can speak to sales agents, they can shop with their friends. They can get validation from other people,” she says. “We wanted to bring that online.”

Register on WingTipIt, and you can add a bookmarklet to your toolbar, so when you’re shopping on a retailer’s site and you see something you might want to buy, you can add it to your virtual closet with one click of the bookmarklet.

The site is fully integrated with Facebook and Twitter. So once you amass a collection of clothes, you can tweet about it, or post a link to it on Facebook, and invite your friends to comment. Or, if your birthday is coming up, you can suggest that your friends … Next Page »

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