Buywith has completed a $9.5 million seed round, and while that might be the type of funding a young company takes, the live buying platform is actually a “veteran” in this new way to shop.
The company was founded in Israel in 2018 by Adi Ronen Almagor and Eyal Sinai as an e-commerce site that allows end users to check in with friends and family on the site while shopping.
When Ronen Almagor came to the United States to participate in the New York Fashion Tech Lab, she saw the impact of influencers on shopping and created a video tool that they could use. She was asking potential customers if they preferred the standard B2B buying tool or video with influencers, and many chose video.
“That’s when I met my co-founder Eyal, and we saw that we had something interesting if we added the video layer on top of it,” she told TechCrunch. “The meaning of this for us would be that you could do the session on any e-commerce site, which would be a huge benefit for us.”
Retailers and brands can host live on-site shopping events featuring influencers, experts and brand reps while viewers shop live and interact with the hosts.
Some unique features of buywith are the “Shop With Me” screen-sharing component and the fact that it does not require app downloads or code embeds, making it easier for brands to use. In fact, that’s how buywith started with Walmart, allowing the retail giant to get started and run with the platform and bring it live immediately, Ronen Almagor said. The company also now has integration capabilities and works with brands such as MAC Cosmetics and is launching new partnerships with Steve Madden and Charlotte Tilbury.
When buywith started, the company was running pilot projects with four employees, Ronen Almagor recalls. Live trading was already a huge success in China – where sales are expected to reach $423 billion in 2022 – but his company was one of the few to do so elsewhere.
However, when the global pandemic hit, it created organic momentum to buy with as companies and brands sought to find more ways to engage with their audiences and maintain relationships with new audiences.
The company, now with 20 employees, delivers an eight-fold increase in e-commerce conversions, around a 40% increase in session engagement rate and a 10-fold increase in ROI on average, says Ronen Almagor .
Meanwhile, buywith works with clients of all sizes and has seen significant growth over the past year, bringing in “a few million dollars in ARR,” she added. The company also launched in the United States in 2021 and is in the process of opening offices in the United Kingdom to expand its presence in the European market.
The round was led by igniteXL Ventures, which was joined by Fab Co-Creation Studio Ventures, former Alibaba.com President for Europe and North America John Caplan, and Managing Director from Alibaba.com for North America, Kevin Ambrosini, Regah Ventures, Irani CVC, True , Sarona Ventures, Andav Capital and NEOME – Women Investing Club. Among this list and more, the company touts having 18 female investors involved from Israel, the United States and Europe.
“Live commerce is the key to increasing e-commerce conversion rates,” Caplan said in a statement. “Around 30% of shoppers exit a physical store after buying something, whereas today’s e-commerce drives around 4% conversion rate globally. Buywith aims to bridge that gap.
Although live commerce is already huge in China, the United States has a lot of bandwidth to catch up. Live commerce in the country is on track to reach just $35 billion in sales by 2024. Firework is making strides in this area, raking in $150 million this week, as is Drip.
Buywith intends to use its new cash injection to grow its sales, marketing and R&D teams around the world. It is also working on a self-service marketplace where brands can select the host for their live shopping sessions from a growing community of vetted content creators and influencers.
“We’re adding a roadmap for the product, and with our audience being young, we eventually want to allow them to buy with coins and even offer purchase chances to go live with the host,” Ronen Almagor said. . “We have a new product manager who comes from the gaming industry, so more features will come from that as well.”