Roy Hermann
January 16, 2022

Adi Ronen - CEO and Co-founder at buywith

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Today, we are interviewing Adi Ronen. Adi is the CEO and co-founder at buywith - an online shopping Livestream platform for brands, retailers, influencers experts to host live shopping events. They have already worked with h&m, Saks Fifth Avenue Walmart, and their product keeps on bringing value to many amazing creators and brands.

Welcome, Adi. Thank you so much for being with us.

Thank you for having me. 

So Adi, give us a short brief about buywith.

Yes, definitely. Buywith is the platform that enables brands and retailers like eCommerce sites to host virtual shopping events directly on this site. They can use influencers or experts, celebrities, or even their brand representative to host the live shopping event directly on the site with unlimited followers. 
We take the E-commerce site as a background. We have the video of the host and the chat of the viewers where they can interact with the host and the brand. So for user experience, I would say it's like live Instagram, but on the E-commerce site.

That's brilliant. How did you come up with the idea of buywith?

So this is an interesting story. Initially, our first solution was a technology for E-commerce sites that enabled the users to consult with their friends and family from within the site. 
So you can invite your friend to browse with you on the site in real time and decide together what to buy. Then in mid 19, we were part of the New York Fashion Tech Lab Program, an accelerator in New York, where we worked with Macy's footlocker and PVH about our product.
We got the feedback when they asked us, can we take your screen-sharing technology for E-commerce? And instead of using it for one-on-one sessions, can we use it for too many? Can we put our influencers and enable them to do the live session directly on their site with the viewers in real-time? 
So, at that point, we said, Okay, we have something interesting here,, and we did this pivot. After that,, we realize that there is a huge trend in China called Life from shopping. So, apparently, we're bringing this trend to the Western world.

Amazing. So can you describe to us the live shopping session? How does the audience participate? 

Yes, definitely. So the first solution enables the host and the brand to promote a live session before, and once we set the date and time for the session, we get a link.
After that, the content creator can post this link anywhere on social media. Also, the brand or client can promote this link in newsletter or SMS marketing. Moreover, they can also promote the link on their social media.
People would get to this landing page by using their phone number or email address. And few minutes before the session starts, we have an automatic system that sends text messages and emails, and then you only need to click on the link to join a real time session. 
So as a user, you don't need to download any app or something. You just need to click on a link to enter. There you see the host’s video; that probably would be your favorite influencer. And again, you could interact with them via chat. 
Moreover, the brand would also be a part of the experience by answering the questions in the chat. And what's great about it is that the host can navigate from product to product on the site during the live session. 
So it's not like a QVC experience like shopping on TV. In fact, we are all shopping in real time with this content creator. And once you see a product you like, you can click on the want button. So the want button is unique for the buyers. We trigger the want button on any product pages, and then you can save the items and purchase them in real time. So that's how we help our clients monetize the live sessions.

That's awesome. So how high are conversion rates increasing during the live shopping session? 

It’s a good question. We know that the E-commerce benchmark is around 2%. So we have seen our sessions between 9% of conversion. And we even got recently up to 40%. I know this is insane, but it's really about the right host and audience. 
To be honest, it is not like a content Creator would be fit as a host to a live shopping event because it's different than posting some pictures on Instagram. It needs to have some other skills to be good at shopping host. 
So, for instance, when we select our content creators, we also build a community of content creators and a marketplace for brands to scout for the influencers and then for the influencers and content creators to select the brand and do live sessions on the available brands in the platform. 
We select them based on engagement rate. Moreover, we check the link clicks, and it's supposed to be high since our content creators are using their social media to bring traffic to the site into the live session. 
In addition, we see how they speak in front of an audience because they need to be charismatic to manage this session in real-time.

So do you take the creators' auditions before they are accepted to buywith? 

Yes, so we do take auditions and ensure they're the right fit. Also, they should be excited about what we are doing. It's not all about making money. Rather it’s more about the understanding that you are part of something very unique, innovative, and cool. 
It's also about enabling them to create a relationship through a live session.

Absolutely. But do you believe it's something a brand can do regularly?

Actually we have two types of brands or clients. The one are those brands who do sessions based on specific occasions. As you can say that once in a while, like based on a collections launch, a specific sale or holiday or something. 
Then we have other clients that are doing sessions daily. So those brands are more innovative. And they can use our technology in the marketplace that we built to scale the shopping activity. Whereas, when you see the competitors, they are doing sessions where you need to have like studios and cameras and those kinds of stuff. 
So what we do is unique: you can do the session from your mobile phone, you can even do the sessions without any physical products with you because you can show the items directly on the site based on our patent-pending technology. 
So, by this way, our clients can get their host from the marketplace and then they can do many sessions like hundreds of live sessions instead of having few live sessions in a month.

So, as we know that YouTube is also developing its live shopping solution. So, what does buywith offering that those giants can't?

Yes, so I cannot tell you that as it's confidential. But a lot of them reach out for cooperation and other partnerships. So we do something unique in the landscape, 
First of all, the fact that we have the shop-with-me experience. We are the only one in the market that enables the host to browse in real-time on the site with force and shop together instead of just having the video and to show the items in video with chat. What we are doing is unique for buyers. 
In addition, we do the live sessions on the E-commerce site, not only on social media.  It is a huge advantage for our clients as we bring the traffic to their site, and then they also get the data. 
Moreover, if you think as a user it's a different experience to be on the brand site. The brand that you love the most. So yes, we are giving something unique. And we see the way they are approaching us.

Agree. So what do you think the future of live shopping will be and how will it affect creators?

As we can see that the market in China is already $300 billion in sales and it’s 9% of eCommerce sales. So obviously, it's a huge trend coming to the west as we see that more and more brands want to enter. And in my opinion, it will grow more in the Western world. 
So, if I think of myself as a content creator then I would look at this trend and see how I can combine myself in this trend. So, for content creators, it's a new channel for revenue.

Absolutely. And do you believe there is room for micro-influencers in live shopping?

Definitely. Our marketplace focused on micro-influencers. The main focus and the majority part of our content creators are micro-influencers. I think that the scale would come from this group because when we do hundreds of sessions, we want many macro-influencers. So, I think they are the future of platform shopping.

Great. Is it possible for small brands to host large shopping sessions, or is it only for the bigger brands?

Well, we have a lot of small brands that are reaching us out through our site and are leaving their email address, and they want to work with us. 
For now, we started with the enterprise, the bigger brands, since we have a setup of around a week and is very fast. 
Within one week, you can go live with our technology. It's that fast. You can go live without any code integration. So, with this setup, we work with only big brands and are focusing on them only. However, I think that in the future, we'll also have a lean solution for SMBs. 

Okay, great. How does live shopping allow creators to earn money?

We have a combination of two business models for content creators inside our marketplace. First of all, if you apply to buywith and then get approved then you could enter a platform and do a live session of whatever you want, and get paid by affiliate fees. 
So we have several brands opening the platform, and then you could do the live sessions without having them vetting you or anything. You just click on the brand, see what would be the commission set date and time, promote the session with your followers, and that's it, you can do the live session and earn the fees. 
In addition, we also have brands that are paying flat fees to the influencers. So in the marketplaces, we're about to lunch as a content creator, or you could actually upload packages of promotions and have sessions. So it's like, some kind of like, Fiverr model, that you could upload several types of packages like I would do one session, I would promote it via three stories and feed post for this amount of money, then I will do three sessions with this kind of promotion, and I will charge this amount. So then, the brand can select the influencers they want based on their budget.

So is it possible for creators or influencers to work in live shopping full time?

Yes, definitely. The amount our clients pay for content creators is almost the same as a monthly rental fee.

Right, and what do you believe is the best way for creators to monetize their audience?

Well, as we are engaging with content creators so I must say that big brands have huge budgets. We have seen the amount they're willing to invest in content creators. Because now they understand that this is their real channel to get the audience. 
Because people want to hear people. They don't want to see just commercials. So, I think this is the best way for the creators to make money.

Right? And so, what tip would you give an aspiring creator for them to grow and thrive and eventually be able to monetize their audience? 

Yes, I think that regard to live shopping, it's something that you could practice. Once you do it more times, you get better. For instance, with Walmart, we have influencers that are doing weekly live sessions on Walmart. 
So, it's like they are getting paid for it each week, and it's like, something that their audience is waiting for. So the audience knows that on Wednesday the influencer is doing a live session on Walmart. 
So I think you should be good at what you do. Make yourself an expert in something. You do not need to do everything, just select something that you are good at and keep practicing to be a better version of yourself. 

That's a great tip. And I saw you collaborated with Spencer Barbosa, who has 6 million followers on Tiktok. Can you tell us about her live shopping session? 

Yes, of course. Spencer conducted the session on Walmart. It was a really exciting session. Spencer brought some content to the session. 
So it wasn't just showing the stuff, and people are buying, in-fact she collected top products on Walmart and she brought herself to the session. It was like putting some authentic recommendations and doing a session which was amazing.

That's nice. So we have our last question for you. Describe the future of the Creator economy in the coming years.

Yes. So again, I believe that micro-influencers are the future of the creator economy. There would be a lot of platforms that would help the content creators. There are a lot of entrepreneurs who like this area as we see that a lot of VCs are investing in this space recently. 
So I think that as you go, you'll see multiple platforms that would help the content creators to grow. 

Absolutely. Thank you so much for being with us today. And I wish you great success with buywith.

Thank you.

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