Tech Wear

Pickle Brings Social Shopping to the Digital World

Photo Courtesy - Julia O'Mara

Shopping alone can be a great experience, but shopping with a friend can be what really elevates a trip to the store from a mundane errand to a meaningful encounter that facilitates fun and connection. Through the pandemic, I’ve deeply missed the ease of making my way through a well-dressed clothing store and stopping at each rack and shelf — what’s so great about this scenario is that I get to explore new styles and trends with someone I trust, and I get to source that friend’s opinions on how my potential purchases make me look and feel.

Now, imagine being able to have that experience at your fingertips when you shop online — not just sending a link to a friend for an item that you just can’t commit to moving to your digital shopping cart, but the in-the-moment feedback that was once only available during in-person shopping trips.

This is where Pickle comes in, the social commerce platform that is changing the way that customers can shop online.

Founded by Brian McMahon, CEO, and Julia O’Mara, head of growth, the New York City-based app utilizes a social network to recreate the digital shopping experience as a social one. Pickle connects users with similar styles — such as streetwear and athleisure trends and viral, internet-inspired looks — and allows them to share their fashionable finds and shop one another’s styles.

In the Pickle app, users join “Circles” where they can not only discover new products and trends alongside influencers but also share their own purchases — and, users can shop with their friends, sharing their in-progress shopping carts, offering personalized style tips and casting and voting in polls to create community opinions on items.

Below, McMahon shares an inside look at what makes Pickle such an industry-changing app, as well as what led him from studying business to the retail technology industry and mobile development, how Pickle users are utilizing the app and what the future of retail looks like in the digital age.

How did you enter into the technology and retail industries?

I went to the University of Maryland where I majored in business with a minor in business analytics. I always had a lot of interest in how technology and data could be used to drive business decisions. In all of my roles prior to Pickle, I worked along the intersection of technology, data and business. I actually did not have any experience with mobile development until I started working on Pickle.

As for retail, I am actually pretty new to the space. One of the main reasons for creating Pickle is that I don’t have a great way to keep up with the latest trends, and I have trouble deciding what to buy — I think that a lot of people fall into this same boat. Pickle helps all shoppers — even the casual ones — to easily identify the trends and get feedback on potential purchases from the people of influence around them.

Where does the name “Pickle” come from?

The name Pickle is a combination of our goal to help users “pick” the best products and our polling functionality, where if you are posting a poll, you might be “in a pickle” trying to figure out what to buy or wear.

Walk me through the user experience of Pickle. What can users see and do when they open the app?

When users open the app, they will be able to see their Pickle Jars — which are essentially universal shopping carts that can be shared with friends — and all of the Circles they belong to. Circles are communities of users that have similar style preferences and look for inspiration and feedback from one another. These features give users easy access to see and discuss the latest items their friends have saved to their Pickle Jars or the ability to click into their favorite Circles to see the latest trends.

When creating a new post, users have two options: post an outfit or a poll. Posting an outfit and tagging the products they are wearing allows users to show off their styles and gives others the ability to shop others’ styles as well. With a poll, users can source feedback from their friends and Circles about what to buy or even what to wear. Any post can become highlighted within a Circle based on high engagement. Similar to the way that anyone on TikTok can be a star, anyone on Pickle can be a fashion icon.

What do you feel makes Pickle such a unique shopping platform?

What makes Pickle unique is our communities, which we call Circles. These Circles can be social-based — a friend group, Greek life, college campus, entire cities and more — or more style-based groupings, focused on street-wear, casual looks or athleisure, for example. Within these Circles, users can show off their outfits for inspiration and post polls to get some feedback. The purpose is to allow users to shop each other’s looks within their Circles. If you like someone’s outfit, you can either save it to one of your Pickle Jars to revisit later, or you can just directly buy the item.

We are heavily influenced by the people around us. We have all been in the situation where we have passed someone on campus or a city street and thought “I really like that outfit… I wonder where they got it.” Pickle now allows you to shop the looks of the people around you.

Tell me about the style communities within the app. What kinds of experiences does having this network offer to shoppers?

Shoppers are able to see the styles and trends in a more intimate way through their Circles. We are heavily inspired by the people around us, so these influential Circles improve our discovery. Shoppers also would like to know how a product would be received by the people around them before actually making the purchase. Through polls and other feedback mechanisms, Circles provide us with that insight.

What is the most surprising or interesting thing you’ve learned about shoppers’ current habits through Pickle?

Everyone has a slightly different shopping process and values a different level of influence. Some people care mainly about what their close friends and family think [of their styles] and therefore take advantage of shared Pickle Jars to save and discuss items in a private setting. Other users really value seeking inspiration and feedback at a larger scale from the people in their Circles. And lastly, some users look to discover trends primarily through popular influencers on our Discover page.

Regardless of a shopper’s preferred approach, our goal is to help them to discover the best products for them and make confident purchasing decisions.

What does the future of retail looks like?

The future of retail is social. Shopping is inherently a social experience, yet as solutions move more digital, they cut out the social aspects that influence our purchases in such an impactful way. Our goal is to create an all-encompassing social shopping experience where users can discover, decide and purchase items with the help of the people of influence in their Circles, including close friends and family as well as online influencers.