Former Snapchat and Quidsi execs come up with possible rival to Amazon

Jun 18, 2019
George Anderson

Imran Khan, the former chief strategy officer at Snapchat, along with his wife, Cate Khan, who previously worked at Quidsi, have launched Verishop, a new online platform designed to bring “the joy back to shopping.” Quidsi was co-founded by Marc Lore, the current CEO of eCommerce for Walmart U.S., and was acquired by

Verishop, which features curated collections of men’s and women’s clothing, home and beauty products, offers free two-day shipping with no minimum purchase and free returns as part of its 24/7 customer care.

The site does not include third-party sellers, preferring to purchase inventory directly from brands such as AllSaints, Boll & Branch, Levi’s, Manduka and Spiritual Gangster. Verishop has launched with about 160 brands on board and plans to have more than 300 by the end of the year. Going without third parties enables Verishop to certify that counterfeit goods will not be sold on the site.

The site also features The Responsible Shop, which offers “an assortment of clean and conscious products that make you look and feel good,” and Tastemakers, a collection of items that are recommended by a variety of social media influencers with expertise in different areas. Verishop is working with seven individual tastemakers at launch.

Verishop, A New Way to Shop – YouTube

The company’s leadership team, in addition to the Khans, includes former executives from Bloomberg, Dollar Shave Club and Thrive Market.

Mr. Khan believes that there are plenty of opportunities available in e-commerce and that the model he, his wife and team are developing offers unique features that meet the needs of many consumers in the market.

“E-commerce is only just getting started in the U.S.,” Mr. Kahn told CNBC. “We’re in the first or second inning of it. … I think we are building a business at a time when we are closer to 10 percent [online penetration].”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Verishop’s approach to brand curation and customer service set it apart from other online competitors? What do you see as the most significant opportunities and challenges facing Verishop?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"Going head to head against Amazon’s strengths would be inviting disaster for a startup and Verishop appears set to differentiate on more favorable strategic terms."
"There is no need to go to a head-to-head battle with Amazon, as their own platform could stand on its own."
"They have a very long way to go before they can claim to have created a new way to shop."

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18 Comments on "Former Snapchat and Quidsi execs come up with possible rival to Amazon"

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Mark Ryski

The idea is sound, but consistently executing this over the long term is very difficult to do. Curation and customer service are hard to scale effectively. The online retail market is enormous and growing, so a solid online offering as described may gain some traction, but to grow this into something significant requires getting eyeballs to the site. And herein lies the biggest challenge for Verishop – breaking through in an online sea of alternatives.

Dave Bruno

Based on the points highlighted in Geroge’s article, Verishop is on the right track. While I am skeptical that they can achieve the scale and pricing of Amazon, if Verishop can deliver an alternative to the no-frills, no quality-control, no accountability model of Amazon, without requiring $10 a month for the perks, I am all in.

Phil Masiello

They have a very long way to go before they can claim to have created a new way to shop. First, they need to get customers to go to their site. But the question I have is, why? If I can buy Boll and Branch sheets, for example, directly from the retailer and Amazon and some other online retailers, why do I need Verishop? Everyone is offering free shipping in all sorts of variations. What is the value proposition of Verishop? Curation? I don’t think that is enough. Influencer endorsements? I think consumers have already discounted this value because they know they are paid for.

The obstacle here is, what does Verishop have that is unique and will make me want to shop there and what is their value proposition?

Brandon Rael

When it comes to scaling, reach and omnipresence, it’s very challenging to compete with Amazon. Verishop’s curated assortments and the close relationships they are building with the manufacturers is an interesting spin on things. Amazon may be the default search engine for consumers to search, price compare, and potentially buy if the price is right. Amazon’s sheer amount of assortments could prove to be overwhelming to navigate through, and the algorithms certainly push the consumer to certain products or their own private labels.

What Imran and Kate Khan are doing is commendable, and will be well received by consumers who simply love to have a choice. There is no need to go to a head-to-head battle with Amazon, as their own platform could stand on its own. Potentially, Verishop could become an outstanding digital channel for emerging fashion brands and designers. Tie that together with the shop now capabilities on Instagram, and the Khans may have a winner on their hands.

Neil Saunders

A curated and edited online offer is a counterpoint to Amazon’s “pile it high” ranging strategy, which sometimes results in a frustrating shopping experience. However, I have several concerns about Verishop.

First, it is going to have to acquire customers which can be expensive in such a crowded marketplace. Second, it’s not just competing with Amazon, it is competing with a stack of specialist online players – including many of the brands it stocks – which also do a great job at curation. Third, it needs to create a very distinct point of view in terms of the assortment; this currently seems to be lacking.

Verishop is an interesting concept, but I think it has a lot to prove.

Lee Kent

Absolutely! And let’s not forget how many years it took for Amazon to make a profit in retail. Amazon had AWS to fall back on and keep plugging until they got things right and it took many hits and misses. This is a crowded space and I agree, they have a lot to prove. Good luck though! For my 2 cents.

Kai Clarke

No. Short and sweet, there is nothing unique about Verishop’s model. Free two-day shipping is offered by almost all major competitors including Amazon. Select, free, one-day shipping is also offered by Amazon and Walmart and some others. One-hundred sixty brands? Amazon and Walmart clearly dwarf this, offering almost anything in all categories. Free returns? Same for most online retailers including Walmart and Amazon. Where is Verishop’s unique approach? How will Verishop attract consumers who could also go to Amazon, Walmart or others? How can Verishop even make money in a market where the barriers to entry require premium online placement, lower-cost and more value for all of the products that they offer?

Mohamed Amer

Sure we’re in the early days of e-commerce, and that means more opportunities to address changing consumer expectations with new retail models and experiences. Going head to head against Amazon’s strengths would be inviting disaster for a startup and Verishop appears set to differentiate on more favorable strategic terms.

Verishop’s success will turn on its ability to quickly raise awareness to match growth expectations while staying ahead of emerging competitors as well as on demonstrating execution and operational excellence.

Shawn Harris

We’ll see. What Amazon has built would require a competitor who has a structural difference, not different features.

Dick Seesel

Trying to compete directly with Amazon — without the scale and resources to do so — misses the point. The questions for Verishop should be, “Can we develop a brand position that truly sets us apart? can we execute it profitably?” At first glance, ideas like “curation,” “influencers,” and “clean and conscious” are just buzzwords, unless they are backed up with great product and execution — and a unique selling proposition.

Bob Phibbs

I continue to be amazed at the number of online shops essentially becoming online department stores. Discovery from a group of seven is not the same as discovery by shopping in a store or in a brand you already love. Those brands have many more arms to draw people in than the exploding universe of aggregators.

Cynthia Holcomb

Verishop is well curated. A curated feeling, pretty, hip, and modern, much the same feeling as the websites of the brands Verishop curates. It is difficult to connect the competitive dots between Amazon’s glut of product and Verishop’s influencers. Possibly the Khan’s have a magic new Snapchat-like app, yet to be launched, able to bring Amazon to its knees? While it is early, the Khans must have something else up their proverbial sleeve.

Bill Hanifin

From a leadership perspective, Verishop would seem to have the right people setting strategy and directing operations. That means there may be more in store than meets the eye. From what we see so far, I’m not sure there is any basis to think that Verishop will be the next Amazon. Obviously it can be a successful e-commerce retailer, but beyond that it is not even in context to compare it to Amazon.

Jeff Sward

Well said. The scope of Amazon’s business makes them the super-mega department store of ecommerce. Nobody is going to unseat them from that throne any time soon. That leaves a whole range of product and customer niches to compete in. Instead, my comparison would be Nordstrom. Great curation and customer service, but on a model that understands today’s and tomorrow’s retail model, not last century’s model.

Shep Hyken

Any online retailer that can build a reputation of stellar service and great merchandise has a chance of making it. I like Mr. Khan’s optimistic approach to e-commerce. While trying to compare Verishop to Amazon is a bit of a stretch at this point, there is still much opportunity for those that do it right.

Doug Garnett

Seems like another non-starter — raising money on great headlines but unlikely to succeed without brick-and-mortar.

At base, Amazon continues to lose money on retail-like online sales. And it always has. So pursuing the worst performing (but biggest headline-producing) portion of Amazon’s business is a dead end.

Amazon’s buyer-only experience leaves open opportunity to create a far better shopping experience. But there’s no evidence that it can be done profitably.

David Naumann
David Naumann
CEO and President, Cogent Creative Consulting
1 year 5 months ago

Verishop’s brand curation and customer service approach is a “me too” strategy that isn’t unique. Regarding a rival to Amazon, I don’t see Verishop as a worthy competitor to Amazon, as they lack scale, product breadth and brand awareness. These are big challenges that aren’t easy to overcome.

Lee Peterson

They’re kidding, right? Stitch Fix, a little bit, but this? Better off keeping that VC money, y’all!

"Going head to head against Amazon’s strengths would be inviting disaster for a startup and Verishop appears set to differentiate on more favorable strategic terms."
"There is no need to go to a head-to-head battle with Amazon, as their own platform could stand on its own."
"They have a very long way to go before they can claim to have created a new way to shop."

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