How SWIRL is disrupting the e-commerce industry with immersive short videos and livestream shopping
“We were lucky to be in the right place at the right time,” says Kaizad Hansotia, Founder and CEO of SWIRL as he recounts what it was like being one of the early adopters of live commerce technology. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the significance of e-commerce and consumer internet like never before, leading most businesses to reimagine their models and pivot to a more customer-centric approach. And SWIRL, formerly known as , is no exception. Kaizad and his co-founder Bheshaj Joshi were quick to adapt to the interactive, immersive shopping experience using videos.
The awareness that video will be the new normal, understanding of the evolving customer behaviour, and an appetite to experiment shaped their story of success.
Kaizad and Bheshaj
Live commerce, according to Kaizad, is the first step to the metaverse that will revolutionise the e-commerce industry in the future. “When we decided to launch a live commerce SaaS product in January this year, we didn’t know how the market would react. We were pleasantly surprised to see that not only were the e-commerce and D2C brands aware of the concept, but even large enterprises were looking out to experiment to better their customer experience,” he says.
SWIRLing their way to success
In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic that led to the shutting down of physical stores, solutions provided by platforms like SWIRL have been a blessing in disguise for those struggling to replicate the human experience that shoppers used to seek in brick-and-mortar outlets.
“Today, a consumer’s journey is starting online. What makes us stand out is our innovative approach to live commerce. Even as the retail industry starts opening up, it will be different now. It would be experiential retail. What you can do to replicate the offline experience for your customers is the key. And a company like ours is poised to make a huge difference,” Kaizad tells YourStory.
After downloading the app from Playstore, brand owners need to create their account, set up a live shopping session and share the link with their end customers. The shopper/end customers don’t need an app to get the live view. Just a click on the shared link would open to a full-screen live shopping experience.
SWIRL offers a variety of ways through which brand owners can engage with their shoppers. The platform enables customers to set up a virtual store, stream live shopping sessions and add byte-sized short videos to their e-commerce website/app and engage with consumers directly. Using SWIRL’s short video stories feature, brand owners can enhance their product pages by embedding interactive videos with products. By bringing the in-store experience online using interactive video shopping, SWIRL shortens the purchase journey and drives sales conversions by bridging the online-offline gap.
A brand owner can attract more visitors with ‘one-to-many’ live shopping wherein their sales associates take the lead to shoot short videos or host live shopping sessions. During the entire session, shoppers can request to view the product catalogs, click on the ‘Show me’ tab for a detailed view of the product, and indulge in live interaction with the sellers. Once the shoppers are considering a purchase, they can click on the ‘Buy’ button that would take them to the e-commerce page of the brand, automatically adding the product to their cart. The shoppers just need a device and an active internet connection to avail the shopping experience.
Additionally, SWIRL also offers a ‘one-to-one’ virtual shopping experience to convert and retain customers. This solution enables a brand owner to offer personalised sessions where they can make recommendations, invite shoppers to check latest products, check intent score to identify conversion possibilities, add products to the cart on their behalf, and retarget leads.
These shopping experiences are complemented by a detailed dashboard that enables brand owners to track real-time customer analytics such as real-time engagement analytics, video analytics, predictive sales, and customer data points; and lets them retarget the audience via text, email, and voice call, directly from the dashboard.
SWIRL’s USP is its ability to be a combination of marketing and sales tech. Using the platform, business owners can rope in influencers in case they are looking to grab more eyeballs and aim to penetrate deeper into the audience base. Additionally, they can work with their own sales and brand associates to lock in more sales.
Another noteworthy feature that adds value to the platform is it’s no code integration with Shopify, WooCommerce and other custom web platforms which enables a shopper to experience SWIRL powered live video commerce on any website.
Some of the platform’s marquee customers include Ivana Helsinki, ITC, Giva, Pantaloons, PN Rao, Zariin, Greenberry, and Bechef.
Made in India, made for the world
As per a recent report by McKinsey, live commerce has evolved into an innovative sales channel in China within a span of five years, with an estimated penetration of 10 percent. Experts believe that many developed economies will follow suit when it comes to live commerce.
Seeing a sizable and scalable opportunity in the US and Europe, Kaizad is all set to take SWIRL places! Calling it “a platform that has global appeal”, the founder and his team are conducting pilots with quite a few brands in the countries, as he plans to scale up in international markets by the end of this year or early next year.
SWIRL’s state-of-the-art technology infrastructure is infinitely scalable, and adds a proprietary interactive layer on top of the video, using text, chat, WhatsApp, etc to replicate the offline shopping experience as neatly as possible.
In addition to their one-stop live video shopping solutions, Kaizad believes that SWIRL is mature enough to identify and understand hyperlocal challenges of every market, and provide accordingly. To attract customers in developed markets such as the US and Europe, SWIRL is working closely with local digital agencies, content, influencer and marketing agencies who are best placed to support SWIRL’s global aspirations.
Strengthening its platform further, SWIRL has raised $250,000 in a pre-seed funding round led by global strategic investors and angels based in the US, Singapore, Middle-East and Europe including Gaurav Agarwal (Freedom Financial Network), Asheesh Khaneja (ex-IBM), Siddarth Razdan (FirstBridge Fund), Vineet Sharma (Dentsu) and Nirmal Shah (Prism Advisory) among others. Additionally, the company is in advanced talks with several investors for an institutional fund-raise.
Marching forward with a cutting-edge product
With a mission to change the mindset that e-commerce lacks human touch, Kaizad is betting big on 5G. “We are potentially looking at a $1 trillion opportunity which means video-led sales engagement models will occupy 10 - 15 percent of the global e-commerce market share by 2025,” he says.
The roll-out of 5G mobile phone networks is going to be a huge accelerator for video-driven platforms such as SWIRL and will certainly play a crucial role in their goal of being among the top five B2B SaaS global experiential commerce or live commerce companies.
“If I am serious about building an e-commerce business, I have to think about innovation, and what more I can give to my customers beyond a basic social media or video experience that’ll make them adopt this new kind of technology. But, we have a long way to go, lots of work to do,” says Kaizad with his eyes firmly set on his goal of making SWIRL a platform to reckon with.