- Players: Haydn von Maltitz and Ian Marvin
- Company: Laudable
- Est: 2013
- Contact: +27(0)10 060 5454
- Visit: www.laudable.co.za
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Online shopping portal Laudable, which launched in July last year, makes it easy for consumers to shop by offering thousands of stylish crowd sourced products sold by different e-tailers, all in one place.
You sign into Laudable with your Facebook account, the app accesses your social graph to intuitively present socially relevant products, It intelligently suggest people to follow, and products on offer are curated by your social contacts. What makes it attractive for the retail partners is that they get information on who is buying what, and they also expose their products to a much wider audience.
The business was self-funded and founded by Ian Marvin and Haydn von Maltitz, and at just one year old, it lists 35 000 products from 200 retailers and has a user-base that’s growing by 10% per month.
The portal was launched to much media hype which meant it took off quickly. To maintain interest and excitement critical to growth, content had to be kept fresh, compelling and engaging. This got people sharing the content and saw a quick spike in active users.
“A challenge for online businesses is keeping people interested because it’s so easy to move to the next site. We focus on keeping content interesting and maintaining a site that’s sleek and attractive. Adding to the retail partner base is critical as we constantly offer new items,” says Marvin.
Monitoring user engagement is a critical part of the business as social media data gives Marvin and von Maltitz a rich source of insights about customers, and helps measure the return on social media efforts. “Social listening tools offer insights about engagement, sentiment, reach and conversion,” Marvin adds.
The two also took a ‘release early, iterate often’ approach to the app. “In the online world, it’s essential to take your concept to market as soon as possible, get user feedback and iterate quickly. You can’t wait until you’ve perfected the product, as that will never happen. Responding to what your customers want is the best way to grow,” says von Maltitz.
Letting the community drive the content
Laudable’s aggregation of products brings together items that are curated and ranked by shoppers themselves, so the portal sells what its users like and recommend. It’s all about what people want to see. Best of all, the users do the marketing.
“We built in lots of viral components that makes it easy for users to share what they’ve viewed and recommend. A browser plug-in generates a store page for the corresponding e-commerce site, which retailers can customise if they like,” says Marvin.
“We charge affiliate fees for generating clicks that convert to purchases, allowing retailers to push deals to those customers who like their products and gain rich analytics about their products and markets.”
Keeping in touch
What Laudable also does really well is to keep in touch. “We take the time and put in the effort to communicate with users, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter or via email,” says Marvin. “It’s important to keep that content novel and relevant.”
Von Maltitz advises other start-ups to make use of the skills available in their social groups. “When you have little access to funding, get your friends and family to help out. We all know lawyers, designers, tax experts. But it does mean you also have to be available to help others when they need your talents.”
The next step is to launch a mobile app. “There’s a massive interest in mobile in South Africa,” says von Maltitz. “As an online store, we have to take advantage of that. More and more people are buying directly from their mobile phones. Again, it’s about responding to the needs of your users.”