ShopThing brings its live shopping brand to the United States
Direct shopping in the United States has become a sort of Wild West for fashion.
And the Toronto-based ShopThing app is taking hold, seeking to launch a new version of video selling while the market is still developing – and establishing a retail gig economy to boot.
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Video selling is by no means new – HSN and QVC have been doing it for years. But Alibaba’s massive success in integrating live streaming into what has become a $ 430 billion industry in Asia has launched a sort of retail land grabbing in the West.
It remains to be seen how the practice ultimately translates into the United States, but ShopThing Founder and CEO Maggie Adhami-Boynton is seeking to introduce an approach that has caught fire in Canada.
The 15-year-old start-up veteran and Harvard Masters graduate founded ShopThing in 2018, establishing the company in its home market. In March, ShopThing launched its iOS app with a waiting list of 50,000 users. That quickly grew to 100,000 downloads (the company has over 200,000 customers in total) and last month ShopThing established a new base with a US headquarters and distribution center in New Jersey.
Adhami-Boynton is a technologist who has now linked her professional life to her personal passion for fashion, style and retail.
Instead of two or three hours with a host talking about products – as is typically the case in China – ShopThing uses influencers who create short video clips, selling individual items in stores.
“We take TikTok meet Instagram and live shopping and combine them into one,” Adhami-Boynton said in an interview.
The influencer walks followers through their shopping adventures and, if they find a buyer, picks up the item and sends it to them. ShopThing changes fees by 20% and handles shipping.
Scrolling through the ShopThing feed is like following someone around a store, as they quickly point out the things they like and give out some basic details. A prize and a countdown appear on the video.
“It’s less about the brand driving their agenda and more about the influencer,” Adhami-Boynton said.
If Adhami-Boynton has anything to say about it, retailers will start to see more and more shoppers walking around their stores telling their ShopThing subscribers about the experience.
The CEO sees herself as building the “most accessible concert economy to date”.
Where Uber drivers need a car and Airbnb renters need a home, ShopThing salespeople already have what they need and don’t need to manufacture merchandise or hold inventory.
“You could make it a side activity,” she said.
And brands could finally get into the action.
“The plan for us is to get to a place where we have 10, 20, 30 million customers,” Adhami-Boynton said, noting that the scale will fuel new kinds of connections. “We’ve already started building relationships with brands where they’ll pay that 20% service charge and we’re removing the customer from it. “
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