MILAN — Social commerce is a reality already embedded in the purchasing cycle that will generate about $724 billion in 2022, according to Statista, which forecasts a compound annual growth rate of 30.8 percent until 2030, to approximately $6.2 trillion.
Yet users’ daily experience buying products on Instagram or Facebook can be wonky.
A new social media app, Popseekl, aims to blend the best of social commerce experiences globally, primarily China’s burgeoning talent-mediated, video-enhanced social media sales and align its shopping experience with Gen Z’s values.
It officially launches Tuesday after a few months of beta testing, on an invite-only basis with a waiting list that stood at more than 3,500 a few weeks before launch.
“Market research would suggest younger consumers tend to favor one-of-a-kind products, look for new values in their more conscious purchases beyond logos and want to establish a deeper connection with brands,” said Giancarlo Scanagatta, who cofounded the app in 2021 with data scientist Giovanni Labate.
The pair canvassed the landscape and found that established social media’s commerce sections were generally underperforming and poorly organized.
Platforms such as TikTok and Instagram are not intended for product or brand discovery, Labate argued. “Each step geared at social commerce is also a step toward users’ frustration, as they are not there to make purchases,” he said.
The Popseekl App leverages gamification, videos and livestreaming, simultaneously spotlighting the shopping component and layering it with the best of social media’s community-building function.
Home to sellers, creators and buyers or regular users, the app provides benefits and an added value for all, the cofounders contended.
Brands can upload their product marketplace-style, enhance the shopping experience via storytelling content on their virtual storefronts and tap into creators to advertise with them via short videos and livestream sessions, who in turn, monetize via affiliate programs, users’ reactions and subscriptions.
“We try to promote an in-platform interaction between all the involved parties, allowing creators to promote products with authenticity and favor discovery of new products,” Scanagatta said.
The app has its own digital currency, known as popcoin, which can be purchased via packages or obtained by sharing content, inviting friends to join the app and more. It’s required to “clap,” aka like content posted on Popseekl, obtain special discounts and access premium experiences.
The latter are still work in progress, but the duo said they will include videocall, chats and shopping counseling with creators and brands.
“One of our ambitions is to bring back human touch in the e-commerce realm, which has offered so many advantages but left real interaction out of the picture,” Labate said.
Popseekl’s differentiated selling proposal is two-pronged.
On the one side, it aims to boast a curation of niche brands with edgy offerings and a community-driven minded -set that the duo has been scouting directly on social media or admitted after receiving applications. “We’re focused on independent brands that have already generated a lot of clout and built a community, that don’t have industrial scale,” Scanagatta explained.
Additionally, it has a built-in check-out system that is perhaps its greatest advantage as established platforms tend to ultimately take the user outside the social network and to brands’ websites to finalize their purchases. “We think this represents the last mile currently representing the last roadblock for social commerce to take off,” Labate offered.
A self-financed project that required a personal investment of around 200,000 euros, Popseekl aims to grow in the thousands on both the sellers and buyers fronts in one year’s time. It is now spearheading an investment round aimed at linking with private equities, business angels and consultancies, aiming to accrue 500,000 euros.