SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - Mar 15, 2017) - Message commerce startup ShopChat today emerged from stealth mode with the unveiling of the world's first mobile shopping keyboard. ShopChat lets people share and shop their favorite brands, such as Sephora, Guess and Foot Locker right from their smartphone keyboards. The company also announced that global e-commerce giant Rakuten (Tokyo: 4755) led the company's $1.25MM funding round. Top angel investors from Silicon Valley and Europe also participated in the round.
ShopChat combines two of the most popular mobile activities, chatting and shopping, into one seamless experience. ShopChat lets people share products with their friends and family to get instant reactions and shop directly from chat. Already attracting 100,000 users, the beta version has generated strong user enthusiasm and high engagement -- over 32% of users share a product with a friend in a session.
The ShopChat shopping keyboard is now available to the public for free from the iOS App Store, for all major messengers, and is launching on Google Play soon.
Two versions of ShopChat are available, one focused on consumers and one for whitelabel partnerships leveraging ShopChat's API.
Investing in the Post-App Era: Funding and Partnership with Rakuten and Viber
ShopChat's pioneering approach to message commerce convinced e-commerce giant Rakuten to lead the company's $1.25MM round of funding. Rakuten is already a global player in e-commerce and is a major force in messaging through their 2014 acquisition of message network Viber. As part of the strategic investment and partnership, ShopChat now powers Viber's recently announced message commerce to its massive user base.
"We stand at the convergence of messaging and shopping, and ShopChat is developing the right platform to perfect the shopping experience within instant messaging. The investment in ShopChat brings us closer to our vision of Viber as an ecosystem, providing our users with more capabilities to manage their communications simply and securely." said Djamel Agaoua, Viber CEO.
ShopChat as Native Chat Commerce
Existing mobile commerce solutions are not easily adapted to messaging. Users must switch away from chat and choose between using individual apps or slow mobile websites. And most apps are uninstalled after a few uses. Mobile websites suffer from slow load times and navigation issues. ShopChat solves these problems by giving people a chat first shopping solution that's fun and easy to use without ever changing apps. ShopChat works on major messenger apps including Apple iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Viber, Whatsapp, WeChat, Google Chat, Kik Messenger, Tango, Line and others.
Succeeds Where Shopping Bots Are Failing
People spend more time on messaging apps than any other category of apps, but chat commerce is barely developed. Shopping bots were heralded as the future of message commerce, but despite large investments in shopping bots by Facebook and others, people remain unmoved by the experience of chatting with a robot. ShopChat invents a better chat commerce experience by letting people share with those that matter to them: friends and family.
"No one really wants to talk to a computer, any more than they want to talk to a voice response system. That's been the problem with shopping bots. What people really want is a better way to share products with friends, and to be able to buy right from chat, where they are already spending most of their time." said Zephrin Lasker, CEO and Co-Founder of ShopChat. "ShopChat makes it easy for people to share products with friends and shop together, and see a broad selection of products instantly as they browse without having to leave their chat app."
Opportunity for Brands
ShopChat launches with a select number of pilot brands including Sephora, Foot Locker, Guess and others chosen by ShopChat's users. ShopChat users are primarily female with the largest and most active group of users under 24 years old. The company is constantly expanding its brand offerings, using a mix of algorithmic and social graph data to evaluate, optimize and select new brands and products. Brands looking to sign up should contact email@example.com.
How It Works
ShopChat's patent-pending technology works inside existing messaging apps, just like emoji or other third party keyboards Bitmoji or Swiftkey. Users install ShopChat once, and it then works on all their messaging apps automatically. This simplicity, combined with the fact that most people use more than one messaging app, makes using ShopChat powerful and easy.
ShopChat's mission is to make mobile commerce as easy as chatting with friends. The company is based in San Francisco and was founded by proven entrepreneur technologists with experience at Amazon, PayPal, Twitter, Techstars, Pivotal Labs, and Pandora. To learn more, please visit www.shopchat.com.