Since people are spending more and more time looking at Facebook and Twitter, why not let them purchase items directly from their social media feeds?
That’s the thinking behind Shoppost, a Seattle startup that’s developed an app to allow retailers to sell products directly in social media newsfeeds with interactive posts.
A few years ago, CEO David Robb helped start a company that sold music on social media. While that business never completely panned out, Robb discovered the need for a social commerce app — and thus Shoppost was born.
“We are confident that what we have built solves a lot of the problems currently faced by retailers on social media — it’s easy, it’s integrated with your existing e-commerce stores, and it works on all of the major social platforms and it’s free,” he said.
Shoppost, which operates under a parent company called Zantler, is similar to Portland-based Chirpify, but with more of a focus on Facebook. It recently added integration with e-commerce platforms like Shopify and Big Commerce.
The startup employs 17 in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood. We caught up with Robb to learn more about the company for this installment of Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature presented by Comcast Business.
Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “Shoppost is the first social commerce app that allows retailers to easily sell products directly in social media newsfeeds with interactive posts.”
Inspiration hit us when: “We know that consumers are spending more and more time on their social media feeds. In fact, did you know that Americans spend about 114 billion minutes a month on Facebook? Not to mention social commerce will be the next big thing in this decade — Gartner Research reported that global social commerce sales are expected to climb to $30 billion in 2015! How can you miss out on an opportunity like that?
To us, it was simple. If online retailers want to reach their target audiences, they need to grab their attention where they’re already spending time – in their social media feeds. We tried to sell things through social media ourselves and realized that there wasn’t a good solution; most of the existing tools involve tabs or links that are hidden away in pages. We don’t think social commerce should be redirects or one app for this platform and another for a different platform. We contemplated something that would be easy-to-use, scalable and still keep shoppers on social media. It was a tall order and more work than we originally anticipated, but we hung in there and are really proud of the results.”
VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We’re bootstrapped and self-funded. We’re focused on delivering a great product and getting people to use Shoppost.”
Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “Simplicity. Shoppost is a free, easy-to-use app that gathers product information and pulls it into an interactive post that you can share to your social channels in just a few simple clicks. Once posted, your product becomes a natural and seamless part of the social experience. Our goal was to make the experience simple for the retailers, as well as their customer.”
The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Going for it. The idea for Shoppost had been brewing with us for a while before we actually dove into the development. But now that it’s out there and available for Shopify and BigCommerce users, we couldn’t be happier. We are getting great feedback from users and look forward to more and more retailers using Shoppost to extend their reach into customers social media feeds. For us, our priority is to provide all merchants and shoppers using Shoppost the best experience possible. We did everything possible to remove friction from the process — Shoppost is easy, fast and free.”
The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Early in the development process, we spent time too much time building portals that already exist. We soon realized that it would be much smarter to take a partnership approach. By integrating with existing portals like Shopify and Big Commerce, we are able to focus on what we do best.”
Would you rather have Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bill is busy solving some of the world’s biggest problems and far be it for us to distract him, that just wouldn’t be cool. Steve, may he rest in peace, isn’t going to be much of a sounding board (although sometimes a silent partner is good). Mark, he’s a great option, but kind of hard to read. We’re going with Jeff — he knows e-commerce better than anyone and his office is a 10 minute walk from ours. We can meet halfway for Starbucks, our treat.”
Our world domination strategy starts when: “Now. Remember when buying things online was actually considered a novelty and “cool”? Now, everyone can buy anything from luxury items to toilet paper right from the comfort of their living rooms. We’re definitely seeing consumers extending their online buying comfort zone into their social networks. Shoppost is part of this shift in making consumers more comfortable making purchases from their newsfeeds.”
Rivals should fear us because: “Shoppost is able to really bring social commerce to the level of what it’s meant to be — shopping IN social media, not being lead away from it or having to go through multiple clicks just to get more info. Advertisers might need to watch out for us too. We think that retailers will be really happy with Shoppost and won’t need to spend that much budget on advertising anymore. Why advertise to do something when you can actually buy the product right there?”
We are truly unique because: No other social commerce app out there provides the seamless in-stream shopping (and selling) experience like Shoppost. Try it out for yourself; we promise you won’t find anything else like it.
The biggest hurdle we’ve overcome is: As with most app development, ensuring the technology for Shoppost ran as smooth as possible was challenging at times. We wanted the experience to be as seamless as possible, which took time, but was well worth it. In addition, we want to allow as many people as possible to use Shoppost, and part of the challenge is to find suitable e-commerce platforms to build upon. Right now we have great partners like Shopify and Bigcommerce, but we’ll continue to work with more platforms so that more people can see how easy it is to sell with Shoppost.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: Don’t be afraid to just try — have an idea? Act on it! You never know where it might take you if you don’t do anything about it. And steer away from creating a social commerce app — Shoppost has already taken care of that market.
GeekWire’s regular Startup Spotlight feature offers an inside look at emerging Pacific Northwest tech companies. Check out the archive of past profiles here. Do you run a standout startup in the Pacific Northwest? Apply for Startup Spotlight.