SHARING THE WEALTH: There’s a new social media shopping player in the U.K. that rewards members when they move merchandise. Founded in 2012 by Peter Janes and Ziyad Makki, Shopa.com is social platform featuring an affiliate and a direct marketplace. Shoppers can engage with others through personal recommendations via social media.
It’s free to join, and as a social media “sharer,” shoppers receive a reward each time a product is shared – on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest – and later purchased. The reward is normally 10 percent of the product’s price and shoppers can see the value of the rewards earned in a dedicated area on their personal profile.
Janes, chief executive officer, said the site is friend-driven. “You discover a product on Shopa.com based recommendations of friends, and you can see what products you might like based on what your friend might like. You can see in-depth what your friends are looking at, what they bought. It creates a really rich and personal experience that’s tailored for you.”
He said it also aims to minimize risk for the brands. “Unlike Amazon and eBay, there is no listing fee, no manager fee, no development fee. We are trying to make it as functional as possible for the retailer to work with us. And that seems to be working really well.”
With investment from Notion Capital and Octopus Ventures, the U.K.-based site has so far raised $12.4 million in three rounds of funding. The longer-term plan is to build up an arsenal of brands on the site and sever all affiliate links, transforming it into a marketplace. The site also offers consumer insight, tracking and analysis for brands.
Janes said he is using the U.K. as a testing ground before branching into the U.S. and Far East. By the end of 2016, the site plans to operate in 20 different countries and fifteen different languages.
“Starting from Day One, we knew that we had to enter in the U.S. very quickly, and make sure we could scale internationally very quickly,” he said, adding that other markets on this radar include India and China.
“We have basically made sure…the pipes work in both the U.K. and the U.S.,” said Janes. “They’re both the fastest growing e-commerce landscapes. There is a relatively saturated market in the UK and US, and we thought the real opportunity was in the East.”
He said the company has been building up its knowledge bank of the Far Eastern market, such as the way Chinese people absorb product pages. “We are focused on minimal design. Chinese consumers love more details. We’ve created a Mandarin version of Shopa.com so Chinese consumers can buy western products.