Exclusive - On a mission to democratize e-commerce and help take the concept of social shopping from fad to reality, Shoply is making its formal debut today after a year of bootstrapping.
The bootstrapping days are over, as Shoply has raised an undisclosed amount of seed financing from former Facebook VP Chamath Palihapitiya and serial entrepreneur and scarily prolific angel investor Fabrice Grinda for its “Fab.com and Pinterest love child” (among other backers).
In essence, Shoply is a marketplace where any small brand or local business can sell wares online. Since quietly launching last year, 10,000 sellers have already found their way to the platform, generating “thousands” of monthly transactions according to founder and CEO Liad Shababo.
Shoply aims to give anyone who wants to sell – from individuals to SMBs – virtually anything online a way to do so quickly and easily, but also actively bring them a steady stream of customers by leveraging social media and technologies, and help them promote their businesses on the Web.
Obviously, that’s easier said than done, but Shoply appears to have nailed what businesses need to successfully establish and promote an online store.
Shoply stores are free to get up and running, with no setup or listing fees, and the startup charges either a 10 percent commission fee on sales, or a premium flat rate of $29.99 per month.
The downside of not charging listing fees is that Shoply will need to a better job monitoring what sellers are putting up on the site (I noticed some – expensive – spam products on the marketplace).
They also don’t currently police shipping fees charged by sellers, so that means you’re bound to raise your eyebrows at total prices sometimes when you shop (e.g. sellers charging a $85 shipping fee for a $45 item is just ridiculous and downgrades the overall experience).
Shababo tells me that they’ve built the site with only 3 people so far, and that those kinks will be gradually removed as they grow the team and take the site to the next level. He also points out that a lot of what gets showcased on the site is there based on user activity, so lousy offers should get organically pushed down anyway.
Indeed, for consumers, Shoply provides a social shopping experience where they can discover and buy unique products from a trove of independent sellers on a single platform. Users can curate products they love and share them with others, but there’s more to it than that.
By following other users, Shoply members can remain updated on all the happenings on the site, such as new products listed by their favourite sellers, or new collections of items created by the users they follow. Shoply uses the available data to provide consumers with suggested lists of products, shops they should be following and other members with similar tastes. I like it.
Shoply is based in London, UK, with offices in San Francisco opening soon.