ShopChat Launches World’s 1st Shopping Keyboard; Rakuten Funding

ShopChat Launches World’s First Shopping Keyboard & Raises Funding from Rakuten

ShopChat attracts 100,000 beta users by combining two of the most popular mobile activities,chatting and shopping, into a new chat commerce platform, an alternative to struggling shopping bots

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., 2017-Mar-16 — /EPR Retail News/ — 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 brands@shopchat.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.

About ShopChat

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.

Starbucks and Tencent to co-create a new social gifting feature on WeChat

Starbucks and Tencent to co-create a new social gifting feature on WeChat

 

  • Companies to co-create a social gifting feature early next year aimed at fostering human connections through the instant delivery of gratitude and love with Starbucks gifts
  • Partnership extends WeChat Pay across Starbucks stores in Mainland China beginning December 8

SEATTLE, SHANGHAI & SHENZHEN, 2016-Dec-09 — /EPR Retail News/ — Starbucks Coffee Company (NASDAQ: SBUX) and Tencent Holdings Limited (SEHK: 00700), a leading provider of internet value-added services in China, today (December 7, 2016 ) pioneered a strategic partnership to co-create a new social gifting feature on WeChat, China’s leading mobile social communications service, in early 2017.

This partnership positions Starbucks as the first retail brand to combine and bring a locally relevant social gifting and digital payment experience to life on WeChat in China. Tapping into the 846 million global monthly active user accounts (as of the third quarter of 2016), the new integrated feature will seamlessly allow customers in China to instantly and conveniently gift Starbucks to a friend or loved one. Beginning today, Starbucks customers will also be able to use WeChat Pay to make purchases at close to 2,500 Starbucks stores across Mainland China.

“Starbucks and Tencent share similar values to enable greater human connections through our respective products and services, and I am pleased to partner with an established and respected social and mobile industry leader in China,” said Belinda Wong, ceo, Starbucks China. “This new strategic partnership will leverage the strengths of both Starbucks and WeChat to create a true online-to-offline social gifting platform that will deepen our engagement with our customers in a unique and powerful way. Just as Starbucks cards are among the most gifted around the globe, we aspire to also become the most gifted brand digitally in China.”

“The strategic cooperation between WeChat and Starbucks enables us to bring the unique Starbucks retail experience seamlessly to hundreds of millions of WeChat users in China,” said Allen Zhang, Senior Executive Vice President of Tencent. “We are happy to be the partner of choice of Starbucks and look forward to deepening our connection to our users through the highest-quality services.”

Starbucks is committed to innovative digital experiences that surprise, delight and deliver an elevated Starbucks Experience for its customers across China. The online social gifting platform is part of the company’s growing digital presence focused on connecting with customers through digital channels, including the Starbucks® Mobile App, the My Starbucks Rewards® program and social media.

Jointly created by Starbucks and WeChat, the social gifting feature encourages everyday acts of kindness and appreciation among family and friends. Customers will be able to select from Starbucks-branded gifts and products and add a personalized message of love, of gratitude or to simply uplift someone’s day. Recipients of these personal and simple acts of kindness can save their gifts and memories on their WeChat accounts and redeem their gift at Starbucks stores across China to enjoy the unparalleled Starbucks Experience.

As part of this partnership, Starbucks will introduce the use of WeChat Pay for purchases in its retail stores in a continued effort to elevate the in-store experience for customers. This cash-free digital payment experience, which allows users to pay for their goods and services from their mobile devices, is one of the most popular payment methods in China, with more than 300 million users linking their bank cards with WeChat or QQ, another flagship service of Tencent, as of March 2016.

Today’s announcement builds on Starbucks rapidly expanding portfolio of digital innovations in China, which integrates the exceptional in-store experience with the digital Fourth Place experience. Earlier this year, Starbucks launched a mobile payment system in China aimed at providing My Starbucks Rewards® (MSR) members access to a fast, seamless and convenient way to pay for purchases, using their pre-loaded Starbucks Gift Card on their mobile devices.

About WeChat

WeChat envisions and innovates new ways for people to connect, communicate and share. A mobile social communication app designed for smartphone users, WeChat is one of the world’s fastest growing social apps with hundreds of millions of users internationally. WeChat empowers users in fun and dynamic ways, by bringing together messaging, social communication and games in one seamless, interactive experience, with comprehensive privacy and security settings that can be tailored as needed. WeChat provides a central point of control for users to share voice, photos, videos, and text messages across their entire social eco-system. Through Official Accounts, WeChat allows brands to deliver rich and high-touch appealing content experiences to engage with and grow their communities. WeChat is available free to download on Android, iOS, Windows operating system, web version and Mac for desktop version.

Media contact:

Global
Phone: 206 318 7100
Email: press@starbucks.com

Source: Starbucks

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