Buy with completed a $9.5 million seed round, and while that’s the kind of financing a younger company is taking on, the livestream shopping platform is actually a “veteran” in this emerging mode of shopping.
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 interact with their friends and family on the site while shopping.
When Ronen Almagor came to the US to participate in the New York Fashion Tech Lab, she saw the impact influencers had on shopping and created a video tool for them to use. She asked potential customers whether they preferred the standard business-to-business shopping tool or the influencer video, and many chose the video.
“Then 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 gotechbusiness.com. “The significance of this to us would be that you could do the session on any ecommerce site, which would be a huge benefit to us.”
Retailers and brands can host live streaming shopping events on-site with influencers, experts and brand representatives 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 no app download or code integration is required, making it easier for brands to use. In fact, that’s how buywith started with Walmart, which allowed the retail giant to get started with the platform and go live immediately, Ronen Almagor said. The company now also has integration capabilities and partners with brands such as MAC Cosmetics and is launching new partnerships with Steve Madden and Charlotte Tilbury.
When buywith initially started, the company conducted pilots with four employees, Ronen Almagor recalls. Live commerce was already a huge hit in China — true revenue is expected to reach $423 billion by 2022 — but her company was one of the few to do it elsewhere.
However, when the global pandemic hit, it created organic momentum for buywith as companies and brands looked for more ways to engage with their audiences and maintain relationships with new audiences.
The company, which now has 20 employees, is seeing an eightfold increase in ecommerce conversions, an increase of about 40% in session engagement and an average 10-fold higher return on investment, Ronen Almagor said.
Meanwhile, buywith works with clients of all shapes and sizes and has seen significant growth over the past year, bringing in “several millions of dollars in ARR,” she added. The company also launched in the US in 2021 and is in the process of opening offices in the UK to expand its presence in the European market.
The seed round was led by igniteXL Ventures, along with Fab Co-Creation Studio Ventures, former Europe and North American president of Alibaba.com, John Caplan, and Kevin Ambrosini, Alibaba.com general manager for North America. , Regah Ventures, Irani CVC and True. Global Enterprises. Among that list and more, the company names 18 female investors from Israel, the US and Europe.
“Live commerce is a key to increasing ecommerce conversion rates,” Caplan said in a statement. “About 30% of shoppers walk out of a brick and mortar store after making a purchase, while today’s e-commerce results in about 4% conversion rates worldwide. Buywith wants to close this gap.”
While live commerce is already huge in China, the US has a lot of bandwidth to catch up. Live commerce in the country is ready to reach alone $35 billion in revenue by 2024† Fireworks is making strides in this area, raising $150 million this week, as did Drip.
Buywith plans 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-stream shopping sessions among a growing community of vetted content creators and influencers.
“We’re adding a roadmap for the product, and since our audience is young, we ultimately want to enable them to buy with coins and even provide buying opportunities to go live with the host,” said Ronen Almagor. “We have a new head of product coming from the game industry, so more features will come out of that as well.”