By  on November 12, 2008

Patrick Yee believes in video.

He cofounded Shopflick, which uses video to help emerging designers connect with customers. The marketplace went live in August and has more than 200 stores, including Doucette Duvall, Rebecca Minkoff, Los Angeles-based boutique Intuition and James Perse. Categories include apparel, jewelry and beauty.

“We started it because we think the online e-commerce marketplace is really going in the direction of video. So one of the premises is we think shoppers want to discover and feel a connection with unique products,” said Yee, who is president and chief operating officer. “Our feeling is that video will help tie together the story, passion and inspiration, and provide a more meaningful relationship between brands, designers, boutiques and their consumer audiences more quickly.”

Merchants from Saks Fifth Avenue to eBags have found that video boosts sales.

Shopflick does not reveal sales, but traffic reached 55,000 unique visitors in September and more than 100,000 visitors last month, Yee said. Orders are up 80 percent month-over-month.

The business model is the same as that of the online marketplace Etsy, except it focuses on independent designers who can’t be found at big-box stores, rather than handmade goods. Sellers must be approved, and editorial features on the front page help shoppers sort through clutter.

There is no charge to set up a shop or upload photos or videos. The site takes a 12.5 percent cut of any sale. Transactions are handled through PayPal. If a designer doesn’t already have video, the site can recommend inexpensive filmmakers who charge $250 to create six videos.

In a difficult sales period, video can help designers find a larger audience, Yee said. “Designers such as James Perse are looking for ways to expand. When people do buy something now they want it to mean something and have a deep relationship with that piece,” he said.

Video is viral, and can be embedded in a wide variety of places, including blogs, company Web sites and MySpace pages, Yee said. Shopflick has an affiliate and blogger outreach program.

The company’s three other founders are chief executive officer David Grant, formerly of Fox TV Studios and Fox Network; Dan Strauss, who helped develop the widget program for Fox Interactive, and Maria Reiling, who was the fashion category manager at eBay and a buyer for Lord & Taylor. The company has 16 employees and is based in West Los Angeles.

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