Commerce Sciences, the stealthy Israeli and Palo Alto-based e-commerce startup, is launching into open beta today, and is finally revealing what it has built. It’s a Meebo Bar for e-commerce! The company made waves earlier this month when it announced $1.8 million in seed funding from Eric Schmidt’s Innovation Endeavors, Israeli VC firm Genesis Partners, T5 Capital, and a number of angel investors, including Backplane board chairman and Palantir co-founder Joe Lonsdale.
The Meebo comparison might not be exactly right. The Meebo Bar focused on social media and ad integrations, alongside other personalization features, meanwhile, the Commerce Sciences toolbar integrates more retailer-specific tools, like chat/feedback, site search, checkout, coupons and…oh, social media integrations. OK, so that is a bit like Meebo, I suppose. Commerce Sciences calls their bar the “Personal Bar,” and it’s made available to retailers as an add-on which floats at the bottom of the website, on all the retailers’ pages. The idea here is that the bar brings focus to some of the most important parts of an e-commerce site, and keeps those consistently available from page to page, making it easier for shoppers to interact, engage with the brand, and find buttons, tools and links for common tasks.
“The main advantage of it is the fact that it’s always-on – floating at the bottom of all site’s pages and can contain all of the store’s key assets,” explains co-founder and CEO Aviv Revach in an interview. “We see it as an integral part of any store website. Practically a ‘must have for any e-commerce store,’ as one of our customers says.” He also teases that the beta launch today is only the beginning of its efforts in e-commerce. “We have big plans,” he says, describing the bar as being only the company’s “first product” in this space.
For what it’s worth, Revach didn’t care for the Meebo comparison. His suggestion for a hook: they’re “raising the bar for online retailers.” (Umm. Maybe we had better do the blogging here, and you can build the amazing things. Sorry!). But seriously, though, he further explained: “Meebo is only relevant for content publishers. As Meebo incorporates external banner ads within their bar – it doesn’t make any sense for any online retailer. This is one of the key reasons they practically don’t exist in the e-commerce space,” he says. “Online retailers have many specific needs which we address and will continue to answer as we move forward.”
One of the more notable features in the Personal Bar – maybe even the standout feature – is how the couponing system works. Retailers can customize their bar to offer their customers immediate rewards for actions such as a Facebook “like,” pinning to Pinterest, +1′ing on Google+, and more. After clicking, a personalized coupon pops up in the bar, reminding them they have a discount available as they move around the website. And when the shopper reaches checkout, the coupon is automatically applied to their purchase, eliminating the need to manually enter a coupon code to receive the discount.
A handful of sites have been using the bar prior to its public release, including weeDECOR, Koffler Sales, Canaflora.ca, DUCKCO, BestOfferBuy, and others. The bar is free to those with up to 400,000 visitors to month, and then is available as a paid Enterprise edition. It works with all major platforms, including Magento, osCommerce, Zen-cart, X-Cart, Demandware and others. It also supports in-site search from third parties like SLI Systems and Endeca, as well as chat from providers like Zopim and Olark, and feedback from services like Kampyle, Get Satisfaction and others.
Commerce Sciences was founded in late 2011 by Revach (CEO) and Eyal Brosh (COO), both with prior experience in technology and entrepreneurship. Revach was the co-founder & VP Business Development of Mominis, a company offering solutions for digital publishing of mobile games, whose hundreds of titles now reach over 20 million users. Brosh was previously VP of R&D at Flash Networks, which offers mobile web solutions. Both were officers in the Israeli Intelligence corps. Their mobile backgrounds are promising here, as e-commerce is quickly moving into m-commerce.
It’s also interesting that Commerce Sciences is backed by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, the company that just so happened to acquire Meebo last month. No new Google+ toolbar has yet to debut from that exit yet, but who knows where Google is taking the technology (besides Google+ of course). An e-commerce-focused bar that serves personalized deals for +1′ing things may one day make a good fit for Google too.