British tech company WeShop is launching as the world’s first community-owned social e-commerce platform, offering shoppers share in the group every time they make a purchase.
It plans to divest up to 90% of its business to buyers and aims to list on the Nasdaq index in New York within 12 months as it seeks to take on the power of retail titans like Amazon.
Shoppers on the platform, which lists retail chains such as Asos, Selfridges, Net-A-Porter, The Body Shop, eBay, B&Q and Made.com, will earn 20% of each purchase price in the form of investment shares.
It also offers 10% of the product value in shares for purchases made through referrals on the platform, while buyers will further increase their stakes when they introduce new members, with 1% of the value spent by the new member given in stock.
Chairman Richard Griffiths said WeShop is a one-of-a-kind company “pioneering the belief in the democratization of equities”.
He told the PA news agency the idea would be “disruptive on many levels” to the retail sector.
He said: “The way we buy has changed dramatically over the past 10 years thanks to rapid advances in technology.
“While we have seen the dramatic growth of online shopping platforms and their profits, none of them are designed to benefit the people who run them, the shoppers.
“That’s why WeShop was born, building a totally shoppable platform that belongs to the community.”
A private investor in many sectors and former chairman of music publisher Greensleeves Records, Mr Griffiths said he first had the idea for a community-owned shopping platform a while ago. 10 years.
“It seems completely unfair to me that big tech and e-commerce have created huge valuations for the benefit of a few people and their shareholders, but all of that value has been built by their users,” he said.
Allowing shoppers to own where they shop is “fair and equitable and it’s a redistribution of wealth back into the hands of those who created it”, he said.
With an investment of £20million to date and heavyweight backers like Cazoo founder and boss Alex Chesterman, Betfair co-founder Andrew Black and former Formula 1 driver Nigel Mansell and his son Leo , the group is preparing for an IPO by the end of the first quarter of 2023.
Imagine if Amazon had done this in its early days, the wealth created by Amazon would have been shared among the people who made it successful – its users.
Richard Griffiths, President of WeShop
Mr Griffiths said he was not ruling out a dual listing in London but believed Nasdaq would be “the right place for it”.
It has already recruited lawyers and advisers before the launch and investors will be able to start cashing in their shares after 12 months of ownership.
Mr Griffiths said he was confident the float would go ahead as planned, but said the group could offer to buy back shares from buyers for cash after the 12-month lock-up if listing is delayed, although that will not is not guaranteed.
The company has already conducted a trial with 4,000 shoppers on the app so far this year and aims to enroll around 100,000 members within the first two to three months after launch.
Mr Griffiths said: “Imagine if Amazon had done this in its early days, the wealth created by Amazon would have been shared among the people who made it successful – its users.
“Indeed, the world might look very different now.”