LiveShopBuy on StartEngine
eCommerce Marketplace for Small Business
At time of publication, September 28, Live.Shop.Buy had raised $10.5K
For years now Amazon has become the 1,000 pound gorilla in the room dominating e-commerce, however if there is one thing Amazon can’t do, it’s make you feel tied to your community. At a trillion dollar market cap, it’s by all means left any sense of small town feel.
Which is why if we want to bring the local shopping experience online, a tailored solution is needed. That is where LiveShopBuy comes into play, with its e-commerce platform focused on enabling all small and local businesses to be able to sell online.
Imagine your boutique shoe store around the corner from you suddenly selling online so those pairs of shoes you wanted to buy for your sister at Christmas can now be delivered to your door just like any other gift you buy online.
The value of shopping local and giving back local is something that is very much showing up in millenial and GenZ buying behavior. LiveShopBuy has the opportunity to capitalize on this.
Check out how in our latest Founder Profile, with CEO Joseph Anselmo.
Joseph how did you decide to come on as CEO to LiveShopBuy and what experience do you bring to the table?
Small businesses are struggling to keep their stores open and workers employed. It’s difficult for them to compete against the big box stores, national chains and huge online marketplaces.
Most small businesses have “Cash-flow” problems so its expensive for them to build, host, maintain and promote their own eCommerce website. Three years ago, my partner Rich Hanley and I decided to do something about it so we started LiveShopBuy.
I have 36 years managing and building successful companies and establishing corporate strategies. I believe my decisive personality instills passion within my team, empowering their personal success. And I’m thankful for my combined technical and management skills which help direct our culture, vision, growth, and goals.
LiveShopBuy is in the business of enabling local businesses to sell online to customers. How does this differentiate from say an Amazon?
We’re like an Amazon, Groupon, Yellow Pages all in one, but exclusively for small to mid-size companies. On our platform merchants are more competitively priced than on Amazon and other marketplaces allowing them to sell products at a lower price with higher margins. And there are no monthly fees for merchants with up to 25 products.
We offer in-store-pickup for convenience and greater Brick & Mortar exposure. We have patent-pending technology so that when shoppers search for products or services, merchants that match the zip code in the shopper’s home profile come up first compared to other marketplaces, where merchants with the highest ratings and reviews get top billing.
Shoppers also have the option of clicking an “I’m Traveling” button, which changes our search algorithm to look for merchants in their new current location. Let me repeat this…. We don’t follow you unless you ask us to.
In addition to helping small business grow we are passionate about giving back to the community and inspiring others to do the same. Unlike Amazon Smile who donates back to existing charities which is great, our Community First Program gives back 5% of our net revenue into the communities where sales originate, funding existing programs for the homeless, senior care and food banks.
What is your strategy to acquiring businesses that want to sell on your platform and how do you charge the businesses that want to list on your site?
Bringing more foot traffic downtown, generating more revenue and giving back to the community is not only appealing to business owners but also to the communities. Six months ago, we partnered with the city of South Plainfield, New Jersey and registered 40 of their merchants who have helped us through our beta.
Combined, with other municipalities we now have thousands of products online most of which are from Mom & Pop stores and small online sellers from various other marketplaces including Amazon. We waived all monthly subscription fees for the merchants participating in our initial beta. We do however charge a 10% commission when they sell a product.
We ended our beta on September 4, 2018 when we launched our Reg CF OPO on StartEngine.com. We now have 93 merchants and just over 25,000 products online. We have a free forever Basic Subscription that charges a 15% commission on a sale.
Our Professional plan is as low as $29/month with a 12% comp. Our Premium plan is as low as $69/month with a 10% comp and we have our Enterprise plan for the merchant who needs more product SKUs and features.
What types of businesses are you finding want to list on your website? Are mom and pops really interested in selling online?
Yes, Mom & Pops are interested in selling online but they require a little more tender loving care and hand-holding when it comes to setting up their account and getting their products listed. Although our target market is the small local business we’re seeing more seasoned online sellers registering.
How do your fees compare to listing on other websites?
There are many marketplaces out there, each with their own pricing strategy. It wouldn’t be a prudent business decision to keep raising and or lowering our rates every time another marketplace changes their pricing strategy.
I believe if you have a great product and you focus on the needs of your customers you’ll be ok. We keep pricing reasonable and affordable for all customers. Our free basic plan helps those who cannot afford paying monthly fees and or per-item fees as other marketplaces charge. Don’t get me wrong, we monitor pricing across many platforms and if changes are warranted we will certainly consider it.
In addition to our free Basic subscription we have three paid subscription plans each with additional features with increased inventory options. Under this model, as a merchant pays a higher monthly recurring price, the overall transaction cost goes down for them. So, it’s a win-win for our needs and theirs.
How are you managing customer acquisition cost in an e-commerce market so dominated by large entities like Amazon?
Our patent pending technology, features like pick-up-in-store, competitive pricing and low-cost entry to market is a no brainer for the educated retailer and business owner.
Who have you found is your core customer that buys on your platform?
We are scheduled to launch to the public consumer in the second week of November. To date product sales are only because of consumers doing comparative shopping for a product with LiveShopBuy coming on top with lower prices.
One of our merchants by the name of Ooh La La lists her products on Amazon and LiveShopBuy. If a shopper found an Ooh La La item on Amazon and cut and pasted the product onto Google, LiveShopBuy would come up with a lower price for the same item.
It’s the same with our pocketbook line and women’s shoes. Our merchants can sell at a lower price and with higher profits in their pocket. It’s a win-win for all of us.
You are currently raising on StartEngine. What are your plans for this capital and how will you continue to expand the business?
We just launched a REG CF Online Public Offering on StartEnigne.com. Fifty percent of all money raised will go directly to marketing. The balance of funds will be directed to sales, customer support and continued innovation of our platform.
Do you see your business as a potential acquisition target for larger e-commerce players or is this more of a standalone business?
LiveShopBuy is a perfect candidate for companies, eCommerce or otherwise, looking to reach more consumers and grow their market share through concentric diversification. We are scalable and their time-to-market would be immediate.
From a financial perspective what type of margins do you expect and what type of scale will you need in order to become profitable?
In its present configuration, our platform is scalable to generate profitability. Our margins will increase from 7% in 2019 to 64% by 2021.
As you think about the vision for the business five years from now, what will the organization look like?
I am extremely excited about our future and the impact LiveShopBuy will be making on communities. Our Community First program will be fully operational and that’s galvanizing to me. We will still be focused on helping small to mid-size business compete, grow and prosper but on a national scale. And the sheer thought that is very fulfilling to me.
Innovation and new technologies including AI, voice and virtual holographic storefronts will transcend the shopping experience to a whole new level. Who knows, in five years we may be shipping product to Mars!
Thus far the team has shown an ability to onboard thousands of products and build a platform tailored to the needs of local merchants. Bringing the local buying experience online if done well could be a huge boon. We are intrigued by the offering.
The fact that they also do good by donating a percent of all revenues to local causes is even more compelling from a doing well and doing good investment standpoint.
About: Chris Lustrino
A Boston College Eagle for life, on a mission to democratize startup investing for all people at KingsCrowd, with a passion for Fintech, investing, social impact, doing well and doing good, and an avid runner, cyclist and writer.