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Crowdsourcing reviews, mentions and other social media and user-generated content, Feelter offers e-commerce sites a customizable widget aimed at boosting conversions and reducing online shopping cart abandonment rates.

The company said the tool can boost sales by 17 percent while increasing user “time on site” by 48 percent and cutting bounce rates by 51 percent.

Smadar Landau, founder and chief executive officer of Feelter, started the company after a frustrating online shopping experience. Landau wanted to buy a GoPro, but said he “couldn’t find enough relevant information or found conflicting reviews. And then, it hit me: what if I could create a platform that consolidated everything said about a product from all across the Internet so consumers could have informative, accurate information?”

Feelter

The Feelter widget. 

Here, Landau discusses the launch of the company, his nontraditional approach and insights about the state of e-commerce.

WWD: What else can you share about the company and its founding?

Smadar Landau: I wanted to take the conversation online and link the word-of-mouth to the shopper, and create something that brings relevant, authentic content that consumers needed. And Feelter was born.

I have an atypical background for a technology start-up founder. I lived in the Far East for seven years — India, China and Tibet — where I studied Buddhism and practiced meditation, and I still meditate today and apply these principles to my management style.

I knew that with my background, I could create an incredible platform that would fill a desperately needed void in the retail space. The name “Feelter” is a combo of “filter” and “feel” — the sentiment analysis that we provide for our customers. Feelter was founded on the premise of a communal give-and-take, and isn’t just a business for me. I donated lots of the initial revenue that Feelter generated to nonprofits that support kids, because I believe it’s really important to contribute to society, and I encourage all start-up founders to do the same.

WWD: How do retailers and e-commerce sites use Feelter?

S.L.: Online retailers struggle with cart abandonment and disengaged shoppers. Our platform provides a content curation widget for retailers that increases conversion rates through the use of real-time social media. The platform’s algorithm curates product, hotel and automobile reviews that are posted online via text, photos and videos, and analyzes sentiment, then packages up this information so consumers have simple, accessible information.

WWD: How many reviews on the Internet aren’t posted by real people, and how do you address this?

S.L.: The quality and type of the social conversation varies from vertical to vertical. Overall, we usually filter out 60 to 80 percent for the mentions classified as commercial, spam or containing foul language. In this ongoing battle with commercial content, we identify textual and behavior patterns across users and social networks.

WWD: What is the core purpose of Feelter?

S.L.: Shopping online is complicated. Many reviews are fake, lots of products look the same, and the list goes on. Consumers are faced with many options when purchasing items online, but often find it hard to choose the right product and trust the reviews.

We’re trying to create a world where shopping online provides an equally accessible experience to shopping in-store. Customers love to feel, smell and hold products, and while only virtual reality can create a similar experience today for online shopping, we’re using crowdsourcing to give customers as much information as possible so they can decide whether to purchase — or not purchase — a product.

WWD: What trends are you seeing right now in e-commerce? What do you expect to see for retail in 2017?

S.L.: Customers often enter a store to search for a product, and then whip out their smartphones to price-compare online in real time. This is a challenge for brick-and-mortar stores, which are taking wear-and-tear for their products by customers who often don’t convert into purchases. These stores are competing with online retailers, and many have decided to block WiFi to prevent customers from price-comparing in the store.

In my opinion, you can’t fight the customer. Brick-and-mortar retailers should look to alternative methods that work with the customer instead of fighting them. For example, Korea’s Tesco reinvented grocery shopping with QR codes. Tesco plastered rail stations with posters that resembled the aisles and shelves of a supermarket, with the only difference being that shoppers couldn’t physically grab the product and check out.

The food and products each have a QR code, which the shopper can scan with a smartphone camera and add to a digital shopping list. When the shopper has scanned the codes for all the groceries needed, they pay using their phone and the groceries are then delivered to their home.

More on Retail Technology from WWD:

Rethinking Warehouse Fulfillment — With Robots

Chinese E-tailer Globalegrow Uses Data to Inform Collection Launch

Retailers Eye Machine Learning, Automation and the IoT to Evolve Shopping Experience

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