Two USA based entrepreneurs Haji Mupakura and Freeman Chari are looking to compete in the “social shopping” space through a platform called Endosit. Social shopping is described as “a method of (e)commerce where shoppers’ friends become involved in the shopping experience”. Co-founder Haji Mapakura describes Endosit as:
A social shopping platform that leverages social connections to help shoppers make quick and thoroughly informed buying decisions based on recommendations and product reviews by people that they know and trust and are within their social network. Before most people buy things online they have to first read reviews about those products on google, yelp, ebay, amazon and other sites or call a friend or relative to ask about opinion. The reviews are from people you don’t even know and sometimes do not even trust. On Endosit, these recommendations and reviews will be by people you know and trust and who are within your social network. In simpler terms Endosit is an integration of Facebook, Ebay/Amazon and Yelp. It has a social aspect where users can follow people they know or people who have the same taste of products like them like Facebook. Users can also share content and tag each other when they find products they like.
To get started on Endosit.com, you will need to sign-up for the service or create an account as most ecommerce website demand.
Once signup is sorted, you will be introduced to scores of people who you can follow in a social sense and the system will prompt you to follow at least three people to get started with the shopping and “product endorsement”. This is however too demanding and in way violates the trust aspect the site is being a proponent off. You will likely end up following three people you have no relationship with whatsoever just for you to get to the next stage. Yes, following strangers at the initial stage of social networking is acceptable, having an option to decline would have been nice.
Once you have followed people, you can now start the shopping and Endosit has numerous products in 40 different categories. All these products are however third party products that independent sellers either put on Endosit or companies that Endosit have an affiliate marketing relation with. If you click the buy option on a product, you are directed to another online store to complete the transaction.
This always presence problems for consumers in Zimbabwe who would not welcome to additional shipping and duty costs that with buying online products outside of Zimbabwe.
The social shopping aspect of the platform is apparent as you can follow people you already know (maybe not at this stage) or follow people you have same interest with. You can then use these social relationships to make judgements on products you are considering buying.
The early stage revenue model is based on affiliate marketing and advertising. The startup is already live with several affiliate and referral programs, mostly international. With advertising, Endosit is looking to sell advertising space on the platform when traffic can justify a good ROI on advertisers.
The long term revenue model is more interesting. As the platforms gains traction, the company says they will begin selling store space charged monthly with an additional 10% transaction fee. You would think eating from one pot here would make more sense so that the cost to sellers is reasonable. Its either they go for monthly fees or transaction fees not both. The proposed transaction fee is too steep by the way.
The other long term revenue streams are “Sponsored Stream Ads” that appear on the activity stream of the user and companies will bid for the spot and “Suggested Search Results” where people sellers pay to be the first search result on certain keywords.
Progress so far
Haji Mupakura says Endosit has around 500 registered user to date and they have a 3% conversion rate although the conversion rate in this case is not actual revenue but “action that result in potential revenue”. Makes sense?
Endosit is a pretty good attempt aiming for space in an advanced form of e-commerce and they seem to have the technical capacity to make it work. However, the value proposition for social shopping is a bit far fetched. Although its apparent that the Endosit duo is focusing on the wider global potential of social shopping, it does appear that they are looking at the local market as some sort of launchpad and the system may need some refining to get people on board.