Profile of social commerce start-up Chirpify

Company profile

Facebook is still the main social media forum used by retailers and brands to target customers and increase sales. However, recent research suggests that Facebook may not be as effective as some may think. Heath Black, senior accounts manager at new social commerce start-up Chirpify, tells Strategy Eye that Twitter and Instagram offer brands and retailers a more effective way to connect with potential customers and boost sales. It launched its social commerce service on Twitter six months ago.

What differentiates Chirpify from other social commerce start-ups?
We’re the only real social commerce company. We’re conversational. Your transaction begins and ends with a reply. And we’re frictionless. Once you have your Chirpify account, you’ll never have to enter those forms again, you’ll never have to put in your credit card information or your shipping information. The fact that you’re in-stream, conversational, and frictionless, are really what differentiates us from the competitors.

What is your business model?
We run on a transactional percentage and monthly fee. We basically have two tiers. One is free and you pay a percentage, but you don’t get certain features like a branded store front or registration page. The second tier depends on the brand. If Nike comes to us and says it wants 150 stores that will obviously be a different upfront monthly cost and then you get more features, API access.

We have revenue, which is good. I can’t go into specifics, but we’ve seen over the past four months our return getting higher and quality of our clients getting higher. Our average transaction price is USD18. We want to get that higher, but that requires more strategic partnerships.

Who are your main competitors?
If you look at people that are saying they’re social commerce, it could be anyone like Gumroad, but Gumroad is still doing the link-off and enter your information, they’re old-fashioned in terms of their thought process. You could even say things like Etsy, but we want to complement those kinds of companies.

What is the biggest challenge you face?
We don’t have a huge marketing budget so a lot of our growth is organic and hinges on cool sellers. Also, we’re really trying to innovate and to move really quickly with a development team of four people. But those challenges we just see as a new challenge that really fuels work on the product.

What is the hottest trend in digital media?
Start-ups internationalising. If you look at English, we’re a minority of languages. As far as content and technology goes, really tailoring content for multiple languages and internationalising our technologies to really make them relevant and world-impacting. It’s one of the reasons that Facebook is such an international force.

OVERVIEW

The main feature of what Chirpify offers is that brands can use it to put a listing in a tweet enabling consumers to link their Twitter and PayPal accounts via Chirpify and purchasing the product by replying with ‘BUY’. Black sees this as the reason why Twitter and Instagram have backed Chirpify because it makes the payment process more fluid and increases engagement with the social network.

However, there may be a number of potential problems for Chirpify going forward with the most pertinent question surrounding partnership. The company has not gone into partnership with Twitter or Instagram but uses its API. While this allows Chirpify to keep all of its revenue, it does leave it open to the possibility that Twitter could pursue its own social commerce platform. Black says that Chirpify is looking to partner with other social media sites, starting with Instagram.

Chirpify generates revenue by taking a 5% cut on all sales and it also charges a monthly subscription fee to retailers who want extra features. Black says that “tens of thousands” of brands and consumers have signed up to use Chirpify’s service. However, there is still a long way to go until consumer purchasing on social media sites becomes a frequent occurrence.

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