It seems like everyone wants to be a publisher these days (content marketing is the new black), which is fine, but why do it if you’re not making money off it? Affiliate marketing has its perks, but EVERYBODY is using it, so it may be a bit difficult to secure a foothold in that world. Why not try a non-traditional route? Heather Marie has mapped out a path to beating the affiliate marketing game easily with, Shoppable, her technology that lets you shop from a universal checkout system without ever having to leave the site you’re perusing on. Reading about how a Narciso Rodriguez dress changed your favorite blogger’s life and want to have that same life-changing experience? You don’t have to go through the annoying step of being redirected to some affiliate marketing site-you can buy that dress right from that publisher’s site. With Shoppable’s threefold mission to keep users on publishers sites with its multi-retailer checkout system, while helping retailers increase their shoppers’ basket size and conversions- since shoppers have the chance to shop from their ever-growing collection of products (9 million strong), looks like everybody wins. We spoke with Marie to see how she managed to secure partnerships with Alexander Wang, Narciso Rodriguez, Coach and empoweredbag, among others, and how she keeps Shoppable at the top of its game.
FashInvest: Can you tell us about your background and how you came up with the idea to create Shoppable?
Heather Marie: My background is really a combination of retail and technology. I worked retail for about seven years at Ralph Lauren and The Limited brands. Technology and retail were very different at that point in time, and retail wasn’t moving fast enough for me, so I started working in technology and was on the founding team of a digital media company.
I did all of the sales and business development there, worked with a number of different national advertisers and we were later acquired by Monster.com, so at this point I had both experience in digital media and online ad sales, as well as retail and technology.
After going through this acquisition, I was still very curious and kind of following how a lot of retailers and brands were starting to launch their own sites.
Around this time, that had certainly changed and everyday you would read in the trades that a new brand had launched e-commerce. There was so much happening within e-commerce at that point in time, that from a consumer standpoint, I thought that retailers weren’t embracing the Internet in the best way possible.
I think that any type of traditional business that comes on a new platform is going to do so in a way that replicates their core platform. So any traditional retailer at the physical location [is] going to launch their physical destination or their digital destination, and they’re going to do so in a way that kind of reflects what they’ve learned offline.
I think that it’s natural, because they do what works best for them and what’s comfortable for them, but at the same time it’s necessary for their business, but from an outsider’s perspective I saw that there was an opportunity to work directly with all these retailers right away and build a real form of commerce that instead of being retailer-centric, like the traditional retail models are, by building on a commerce that is consumer-centric where everything revolves around ‘How do we make it as easy as possible for consumers to purchase something that she sees and to be able to purchase it exactly where she is without having to work to find it?
FI: We noticed that you were formerly branded as 72Lux and now you’ve rebranded with the name Shoppable. Can you explain why you guys decided to rebrand?
HM: We named the company 72Lux originally because we started working with luxury brands and retailers, so I wanted to make sure that since we target that market, we could address that market and build relationships with the luxury retailer, which I feel is really important.
I think by focusing on the mass market and then trying to lead into luxury later- we had a really hard time doing that. Some of the biggest e-commerce companies out there today are struggling with it because of their brand identity so we created the company with the name 72Lux so we could be known as a luxury company and more of a fashion-tech company and so that we could expand into other areas over time.
The natural name for the company of Shoppable came up because it’s so perfect because it describes exactly what we do in our branding.
We wanted to be able to showcase that we weren’t just luxury, but luxury branding and kind of the look and feel to our site.
The logo and the design of the site appear very high-end, so the brand shows that we’re extending beyond luxury at this point and also more descriptive of our technology.
FI: On your website, we see you have three different ways that individuals can use Shoppable. It’s for the shopper, the publisher and the retailer. Can you explain how each of these different people can use Shoppable to their advantage?
HM: Publishers use Shoppable to make their content shoppable in a way that is very easy for the consumer, so if the publisher is using our technology it allows them to give the consumer or the user the ability to engage within their website. Say you’re reading about the 10 most popular products of Fall 2014.
Those 10 products are probably coming from 10 different retailers or websites, and with our technology, the user can actually click on each of them and get more information and engage with them and purchase them directly from within that website.
The benefits to the publisher is they’re able to keep that user on their site whereas with other technology they have to send the user away and redirect the user away from their site.
Someone who’s a publisher is primarily monetizing through advertising, so need those eyeballs on their site- so the last thing they want to do is provide an easy exit to their users. That’s one of the main benefits to the publisher.
Another benefit is some publishers, we use that term loosely, they may not have actual written content, so their entire site is populated with products that are coming through our database. Those are two examples on the publishing side.
On the retailer side, we are an information platform for retailers’ products, so retailers all have their own destination websites, but their products are being mentioned millions of times across the Internet and oftentimes not connected back with the ability to purchase those products.
The point-of-sale used to be wherever the cash register was, and the new point-of-sale is potentially anywhere the consumer is. We allow that consumer to purchase the product wherever she is, and we’re therefore bringing the retailer’s product directly to the consumer.
For the user- for the shopper, they’re able to purchase products in a way that is much simpler and has a lot more traction then they could without our technology. Once a user finds a product she wants, she can go through the checkout with products coming from three or four different retailers.
Once she’s created an account, she can use her Shoppable account across any other Shoppable-powered sites. She can log in and click purchase and she won’t have to fill anything out. It’s a very fast checkout experience.
FI: Which category of individuals do you see that you’re gaining the most traction from?
HM: The ones for us are apparel and accessories and health and beauty.
FI: Are you seeing more publishers, users or retailers using Shoppable?
HM: That’s an interesting question. It’s hard to say because the users engage with it in a number of different ways, so I guess I would have to say the most would be users. Secondly, we have over 800 publishers signed up on the platform and a few hundred retailers signed up.
FI: How was your company initially funded, and are you guys in the process of raising a round now?
HM: I put the first $10,000 into the business to build the concept. We raised a $1.5 million in our first round, and we are now raising our second round.
FI: Talk about the future of Shoppable. Where do you think you can take this platform?
HM: The plans for Shoppable, from where I’m sitting and from my point are view, are really endless.
Our vision is to make everything that you see and engage with, as a user, as a human- shoppable.
We want to organize all of the inventory posted in the U.S. and bring it into our checkout and be able to connect all that inventory back with every mention or image of all our products. How that happens and how the technology gets us to that point, there are several iterations of things, but it’s definitely an exciting future.