Sell Rebrands As Chirpify; Launches New Twitter Commerce Platform For Brands

We first covered Sell in November last year, as it looked to capitalize on the increasing interest in social media as not only a place to advertise and build an online presence for brands, but as a platform for conducting social commerce. Most of that interest has surrounded Facebook, as a host of solutions and services have emerged that allow big brands and startups alike to create retail storefronts on Facebook, sell to customers, and to a certain extent, manage their transactions.

With an enormous reach in its own right, one might expect that Twitter would look to leverage its platform (which has also become popular among celebrities and brands looking to hawk their wares) to throw its weight around in the emerging social eCommerce marketplace. As of now, Twitter has shown no interest in building this into its repetoire, with CEO Dick Costolo saying that the company is making enough money on advertising, thank you very much.

That’s why one-man-show Chris Teso launched Sell Simply — as a simple way to take advantage of this big market opportunity — and enable consumers to buy, sell, donate, and transact right on Twitter. The goal was to turn Sell Simply into a digital marketplace, making it possible for any Twitter user to buy and sell their products or items, just by replying “buy” to any tweet listing.

While the idea has a lot of potential, Teso was operating as a solo founder, and to really make it work, he says, he knew that he needed help. The Founder turned to a new Portland-based accelerator called Upstart Labs, which offered him $50K in seed funding and access to a team of designers and developers that would assist in scaling the business.

A by-product of joining UpStart Labs has been that the startup will no longer be known as Sell, as the team changed the name to Chirpify, in turn offering a new logo, a rebranded site, and a whole lot more functionality (along with some changes) to the original model.

After launching last year, Teso says, he came to the realization that if he wanted to roll out the Twitter commerce service to millions of users, the platform itself would have to be inherently scalable. In its prior incarnation, Sell Simply just didn’t quite have the foundation and infrastructure to do that, but with help from his new Portland friends, things are looking up.

Under the prior model, to kick off the transactional process on a tweet, users essentially had to “reply all” on that tweet with the word “buy” included. Teso said that, simply put, users found this proces confusing, and they didn’t really understand the concept of the reply all. And to that point, Teso said that many users saw Sell Simply as a competitor to Etsy or craigslist, or, in other words, just a virtual storefront for Etsy merchants to sell their wares on Twitter. Many weren’t quite understanding that the platform was meant simply to be a way to facilitate direct transactions and purchasing on Twitter.

With some road behind it, Chirpify is now launching its direct and P2P payments and donations (and retail sales) service with additional functionality for brands. Going forward, Chirpify users will be able to use Twitter as a direct sales channel, as the platform offers businesses an easy way to turn Tweets into transactions, opening up a new channel that combines social marketing with commerce.

But, how does it work, you ask? Chirpify taps directly into PayPal to facilitate secure transactions on Twitter, allowing users to make purchases or donate just by replying to a tweet, a thus: “@BarackObama Donate.” Another cool bonus is that Chirpify is trying to build some deep integration into existing eCommerce solutions, like Magento “for back-end fulfillment, listing, and transaction management,” Teso says.

When Chirpify merchants want to sell something, they just click the “List on Twitter” button when drafting a listing in their new eCommerce dashboards. Then, inbound sales info appears as an email or “as part of the retailer’s back-end system, or via a direct message on Twitter.”

How it works: Chirpify integrates directly with PayPal to offer secure transactions on Twitter. Purchases and donations are as simple as replying to a Tweet: “@favoritebrand Buy,” or “@politician Donate,” for example.

Additionally, Chirpify offers deep integration with existing e-commerce storefronts, including Magento, for back-end fulfillment, listing and transaction management. To use Chirpify, merchants simply click the “list on Twitter” button when drafting an item listing for sale in their e-commerce dashboard. Inbound sales information appears as either an email or as part of the retailer’s back-end system, as well as via a DM on Twitter.

It may be a bit confusing at first, but in the end, the concept is deceptively simple. Chirpify works everywhere Twitter does, which means that its device agnostic.

When I asked the Founder about where Chirpify will be going next, he told me that social commerce adoption has been slow, especially on Facebook. But what really surprises him is that things like flash sales haven’t yet been applied to social commerce and Facebook. So, next the founder says he wants to offer flash sales, time-limited sales, and give brands the option to serve all manner of deals to their customers.

Although he wouldn’t cite specifics, the Chirpify Founder did say he’s in talks with some big brands (potential partners), and more news will be forthcoming. So stay tuned.

For more, check out Chirpify at home here.