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VOILA: The app that’s changing the game of shopping on social media

by Tia Janowski

As social media becomes the main source of fashion inspiration, anyone who uses Instagram or Tiktok will know the struggle of seeing someone wearing an item you absolutely love but not being able to find it anywhere. Although a lot of content creators now make sure to link or mention the name of the product, even then it’s very likely the item is already sold out or it’s too expensive. 

The fashion app, Voila, which launched in 2019, makes shopping on social media or creating content so much easier by eliminating these issues. Combining AI technology with fashion, Voila is a social media and e-commerce platform that uses a visual search engine to do all the work for you. With technology now having an incredibly important role in boosting sales and making shopping easier, Voila and talking about why it’s changing the name of fashion content creation.

Founded by Ke Shang, who has previously worked within a machine learning team at Google, has always had an interest in how American e-commerce could be improved with the use of technology. Due to this, Shang wanted to experiment with the idea of shoppable social media content as he feels that online creators provide a pathway between products and consumers. He noted that it’s often difficult for followers to find the products they see on their social media feeds or if a product has gone viral, it might already be out of stock. 

Talking to Tech Crunch, Shang said, “We like certain influencers’ or celebrities’ lifestyles, but we can’t afford those styles”. He then further explained that he wanted to create an app to fill this gap in the industry, “You have options. It’s just a way to make sure that everyone finds the right thing and increases the creator’s content-inspired sales.”

With this inspiration, Shang set out to create a social media style community for users to connect with other creators. He did this by training a model to search for around 50 million fashion and style photos and learn 300 different attributes that relate to apparel items to allow Voila to provide exactly what consumers are looking for. 

Using a visual search engine that recognises clothing, Voila searches its database to provide a link to not only the original item but similar styles from its database of retailers and designers so shoppers can immediately see where an item is from. This means that unlike other platforms, you don’t only have the option to search for an item based on keywords but you can also add pictures to find out where the items are from or items that are similar but more affordable. 

 When it comes to fashion and technology, they are much more connected than people realise. According to Anita Balchandani from McKinsey & Company, “Technology has been playing an accelerated role in the fashion industry over the last two or three years, particularly when it comes to the customer-facing side of the industry”. 

Due to this increase in the role technology plays, consumers are now discovering brands in different places and ways, which makes the user experience a lot easier. Due to its use of AI and stylish, simple and completely customisable design, Voila is a perfect example of how technology can benefit the fashion industry by making shopping much easier to follow than other social media platforms that aren’t built specifically for this. When using Voila, the homepage constantly offers trending looks and products, showing you a variety of options at different price points based on who you follow and what’s currently popular. 

Using Voila as a content creator, the app takes the common ‘link in bio’ format and makes it much more usable for your followers. Voila makes content creation easy by allowing you to connect your social media accounts to the app, which then allows it to then scan through your content to generate affiliate links. Voila will also suggest relevant or similar items as well as keeping all the product information on your post updated. 

From this, Voila works with 20K+ brands, from Urban Outfitters to Nike, meaning you can link all your items and collaborate with brands easily, earning a commission for all the items you sell. Voila also makes it super easy to keep track of your analytics and data as it shows you your earnings by brand and product category as well as how many people are clicking your links.

Even if you’re new to content creation, you can still monetise your content as there’s no exclusive application to start. This is a big deal when it comes to fashion content creation as often you require a certain amount of followers before you can start earning money for your posts.  

At first glance, this app seems too good to be free, but believe it or not, it is. Voila was built with the intention to help you monetise your content and it does exactly that with no hidden charges. 

So, whether you’re looking for an easy way to shop or you want to boost your online revenue, Voila not only makes both of these incredibly easy, but it makes it enjoyable. Voila has used technology to take the social networking side of Instagram and combine it with the e-commerce side that is definitely lacking on most social media apps, to make a platform that is incredibly necessary for 2023.

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