A couple of years ago, Alecia Vimala, who had spent 15 years negotiating deals in the entertainment industry, decided to film herself assembling and cooking a pizza, and worked with an engineer to make all of the product in the video shoppable. She sent the video to about 15 people and the products featured quickly sold out.
“I can’t cook or bake at all and this was my first attempt to make pizza,” Vimala said. “But after I sent out the video, I realized this was more than an idea. There is a market here. I raised money, hired people and we started aggressively building the program.”
For the past two years, Vimla has been beta testing Alecia, which she described as the world’s first shoppable, video-on-demand streaming network, but now the platform has launched to the public. It can be accessed on a smartphone, via an app, on desktop and soon on TV. The video content is provided by either an in-house team, partnerships with production companies and licensed distribution deals.
Alecia recently signed a deal with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution for the exclusive U.S. video-on-demand streaming rights to seasons one through three of the hit series “Bachelor in Paradise.” It’s also formed a partnership with Kew Media Distribution, which is based in Canada. Alecia will exclusively premier and stream four of its hit shows in the U.S.
“Hulu and Netflix have constant new offerings,” Vimala said. “For us to compete, we have to form more partnerships. We hope to close more deals with all the majors and then expand into independent distribution as well.”
The content is divided by daytime and nighttime content. Daytime content is lifestyle-based and focuses on fitness, fashion, beauty and parenting. These videos are typically under seven minutes long. The nighttime content includes reality shows, comedy, action and drama.
All of the videos are shoppable and as a viewer sees the product on screen, they can add to cart and have uninterrupted streaming. Alecia, which is based in Nashville, works with more than 600 brands, including 100 apparel brands. The Alecia team sources product from these brands that are either the same or similar to what viewers see on the shows and Alecia, which operates its own warehouse and maintains inventory, fulfills the order.
Vimala said the team is focused on building up its content library. Right now, they add 100 to 200 new titles every four to six weeks. There are 263,00 active users — Vimala wants to get to 1 million within six months — and they are checking into the app three times a day. Getting them to watch the video past 45 seconds is the primary goal as the longer they watch, the more likely they are to purchase.
The average order value is between $70 and $80, but Vimala said as they add more designer brands to the platform, they expect users to spend $150 to $300 per order.
With help from MSA Enterprises, Warner Bros. Digital Networks recently backed NTWRK, an app created by Aaron Levant, who previously founded Agenda trade show, that targets Millennials with original daily video content inspired by QVC and HSN that centers on different product.
“For a long time, people have been watching entertainment content and YouTube videos and majority of them want to purchase what they see, but there is no vehicle to make that happen yet,” Vimala said. “I feel like all media platforms will change to have a similar business model to making the products shoppable and that will change advertising. It’s going to change how people monetize visual content.”