SalesTechStar Interview with Andrew Chen, CPO at CommentSold
Andrew Chen, CPO at CommentSold chats about a few digital commerce and retail sales trends:
Welcome to this SalesTechStar chat Andrew, tell us about yourself and more about CommentSold. What inspired the platform?
I am the chief product officer at CommentSold, the leading live video commerce platform that has generated $3B+ in lifetime GMV and facilitated the shipment of 100M+ products by enabling thousands of retail businesses to unlock sales growth through live selling. CommentSold also recently launched Videeo, a best-in-class, white-label live video commerce technology allowing retailers to seamlessly integrate live-selling into their existing tech stack. Through our solutions, enterprises, small businesses, and independent sellers can use live video and shoppable video clips generated from live events to sell fashion, beauty, home goods, electronics, and other items.
I’ve spent the last decade or more developing and leading product and technology teams, and in my role at CommentSold, I’ve focused on creating innovative software designed to support the success and needs for our thousands of merchants in an ever-changing technological landscape. In order to grow as a company, this is critical. I focus on solving existing pain points, but am always looking ahead to solve for issues that lay on the horizon and constantly look for solutions that address the problems in new and exciting ways. My philosophy is that innovation also begets more innovation, and that it’s much easier to ride a wave of innovation with a growth mindset across the board.
The CommentSold platform was developed by Brandon Kruse, founder and former CEO, to help his wife manage backend live and social selling processes for her fashion business. Now, CommentSold is helping thousands of retailers across the continent through live video commerce and optimizing their online and brick-and-mortar shopping experiences.
What are some of the common challenges facing online retailers today and how do you feel newer tools in the market can help alleviate most of them? What kind of tools should online retailers be deploying more of to drive impact?
Consumers are fickle right now. While consumer sentiment has improved since hitting a trough in May, it’s still noticeably low, so retailers must do more to stand out and convince consumers their products are worth buying. They need to become a part of their customers’ lives.
It’s no secret that retailers who pivot to multi-channel live video selling can continue building more meaningful relationships and personal connections with customers. This pivot empowers retailers to reach new customers locally, across the country, and around the world.
To do this, retailers will need to embrace solutions that help them do four things: 1) grow their customer base, 2) scale revenue into new channels, 3) drive customer loyalty and engagement and 4) obtain real-time insights from their customers. CommentSold enables retailers to navigate changing consumer behavior, stay on the cutting edge of retail technology, and create deep and ever-lasting connections with their customers through live selling on our platform, tailored support, and coaching. Our goal has always been to help our retail partners succeed with tools that automate and simplify operations while amplifying their brand voice and giving them new ways to engage their customer base to keep them coming back for more.
While it’s impossible to build a community purely by algorithm, retailers should be using a combination of technology, data, and personality – the human element – to hone their brand and grow a loyal customer community.
How do you feel the digital commerce and social selling market is set to evolve in the near future?
Right now, there’s a clear consumer appetite for social commerce. You see social selling manifesting on the most popular social channels: shoppable Pinterest posts, tagged products on Instagram and Facebook, and sponsored TikTok videos. At the same time, you have major enterprises trying to create their own social selling channels – for example, in 2019, Amazon developed Amazon Live, a live selling platform that reportedly offered large bonus payments to attract creators.
The consumer appetite is clear. This is why platforms like CommentSold are so integral for retailers looking to capitalize on this new way of selling – we partner with these large social platforms so retailers can multi-stream their live video sales and create shoppable posts across the networks with a selling framework designed to tap into the unique consumer behaviors on social media.
Additionally, there’s a general pattern of e-commerce trends starting in Asia and then slowly matriculating to the rest of the world. I think that’s what we’ll see with live commerce specifically. In North America, live selling is an absolute boon for small businesses and independent sellers that need to grow their audience quickly, and its popularity is becoming increasingly widespread. Coresight Research predicts sales from livestreaming e-commerce in the US will total an estimated $20 billion in 2022.
How can online sellers today unlock more sales value?
If retailers want to increase their value, they must not only embrace trends – they need to be one step ahead of them. Right now, consumers are hooked on person-to-person interaction. This emphasis is why you’re seeing a shift from typical influencer marketing to more community-based engagement. People also want to shop from brands that show personality and humanity. Live selling gives online brands the platform to engage directly with consumers on a personal level, similar to what they would experience in a brick-and-mortar store. And there’s data to back this up. According to Coresight Research’s US Livestreaming E-Commerce Survey 2022, 61.2% of U.S. consumers who have brought products via livestream shopping make purchases through the channel more than once a month, showing personal engagement creates repeat customers.
Sellers who wish to unlock value through live video commerce need to invest time in developing their unique presentation style; they must be entertaining, engaging and authentically themselves to turn the sale of their products into the virtual shopping experience consumers crave. As the leader of live commerce technology in North America and having overseen 19M+ hours of live video sales, CommentSold works with our 4,000+ retailers to deliver proven best practices, nurture their skills, and help them create the right live selling experience for their intended audience. As live selling grows, we’ll see a movement in content creation led by those in retail rather than just creators themselves. This shift will lead to an all-new career niche of live selling professionals, as has already happened in China, and retailers will see tremendous value as a result.
A few thoughts on the future of online retail as a segment and how you feel this space will shape up?
First, it’s going to become increasingly interactive. We’re in the middle of a significant paradigm shift in retailer-consumer interaction with emerging communities of consumers who behave like fans, coalescing around the brands and brand personalities they love. Moreover, consumers are demanding authenticity, which is how we’ll see livestream shopping jump into the mainstream – part of the reason it’s become so popular in Asia is that these sellers are everyday people, just like their viewers.
Tens of millions of consumers are using their mobile devices to make payments and purchases. It’s only natural that the mobile phone will be the nexus of e-commerce. The palm-of-your-hand convenience makes it easier for people to be engaged in what they’re buying. Plus, there’s a psychological element to it: as consumers become increasingly mobile-oriented with their shopping, CommentSold is meeting them where they are.
CommentSold is the North American leader of live selling technology, with over 4,000 small to enterprise-sized retailers, more than 100M items sold and $3.0B+ in lifetime GMV. CommentSold’s technology continues to provide small businesses and enterprises with best-in-class solutions for delivering engaging live video commerce experiences, such as with their white-label live video commerce technology, Videeo, which gives retailers and brands the ability to deliver engaging, branded live video commerce experiences by easily integrating live selling into an online retailers’ existing e-commerce stack.
Andrew Chen is the Chief Product Officer at CommentSold, the leading live selling platform for retail businesses, and an Angel Investor through programs with First Round Capital and Gaingels. As Chief Product Officer, Andrew is focused on evolving CommentSold’s ever-growing product team and rolling out innovative products to its thousands of merchants. Andrew has over a decade of product leadership experience, having previously served as Senior Vice President of Product, Design, and Data for Global-e (formerly Flow Commerce, which was acquired by Global-e for $500m) and Director of Product – Music Streaming, Mobile, & TV Platforms for iHeartRadio. Andrew is a graduate of Yale University, where he received a BA in Economics.
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