The one thing online shopping is missing, says Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, a former Google executive, is infomercials.
Ms. Singh Cassidy introduced her new shopping start-up, Joyus, on Monday. It is an e-commerce site that produces videos to sell products, like a Web version of the Home Shopping Network.
“If you think about the ways to sell online, video is under-utilized,” she said. “It’s a new way for brands to merchandise their product.”
Joyus joins other sites, like Gilt, Google’s Boutiques.com and Amazon.com’s MyHabit, that are trying to figure out how to best sell so-called soft goods like clothes online. Items like books and gadgets are easier to buy without seeing them in person.
Unlike other e-commerce sites that use video to advertise products, Joyus uses video to sell the products, and cites comScore statistics showing that shoppers who view videos are more likely to make a purchase. Joyus and the brands it showcases share sales revenue.
The videos last several minutes, and each has a similar formula — interview an expert about a product, persuade shoppers that they need it and offer a deal to buy it on the spot. The site is different from flash sale sites like Gilt, Ms. Singh Cassidy said, because the sales last for seven days and feature in-season products, not excess inventory.
A video for Prtty Peaushun skin lotion, for instance, features a Joyus host and the make-up artist who created the lotion chatting by a pool. They talk about why they like the lotion and which celebrities use it while the video shows pictures of models applying it. After a brief tutorial about how to choose the right shade of lotion, they offer it for $29, $7 less than the usual price. Shoppers can buy it on the site.
Joyus, which has been open to 1,000 test users until now, has featured other small brands like ModCloth.com and a consignment shop in San Francisco. Brands can embed the videos on their own Web sites or share them on sites like Facebook.
Ms. Singh Cassidy hopes that bigger retailers will eventually turn to Joyus to produce videos for their Web sites. She also plans to open video production to outside contributors.
Why would a big retailer or an outside contributor partner with Joyus instead of simply making their own videos for their own Web sites? Ms. Singh Cassidy thinks they will be drawn to her company because Joyus will provide sales data. That means that retailers will know exactly how many people made a purchase after viewing a video as opposed to simply watching it, which is how most advertisers measure the effectiveness of online video ads today.
Joyus has raised $7.9 million from investors including Accel, the venture capital firm behind Facebook and Groupon, where she previously was an entrepreneur-in-residence. Before that, she was president of Google’s Asia-Pacific and Latin America operations. She also had a short-lived stint as chief executive of Polyvore, another technology/companies/27polyvore.html">fashion and e-commerce start-up, which she said she left because she and the founders had different visions for the company.