Twitter-Only Shopping Site Gets $4.7 Million Investment

Written by Evan Schuman
April 29th, 2009

Trying to figure out whether this new service is brilliant or, well, something decidedly not. A site has launched providing human-assisted shopping integrated with a Twitter shopper site. That’s not that unusual as the Twitter world is filled with them. But this one just picked up an almost $5 million Series A round of funding from SK Telecom, according to a statement issued Wednesday morning (April 29). Is there something more here with this one?

The site’s CEO, Prashant Nedungadi, pinned much of the hopes on the customer service feature.

“We believe human assistance will create a deeper level of e-commerce satisfaction that doesn’t exist on the Internet today,” Nedungadi said. “There is a lot of information out there, but very little help when online shoppers need specific answers that will make or break their purchasing decision. At brick and mortar stores, human experts fill such a void, but on the web, it doesn’t exist. We developed IMshopping to bring the same level of personalized assistance to online shoppers. Twitter is the ideal medium for having a conversation; Online shoppers have the option to communicate privately with the expert on Twitter, or publically so others can benefit from the right choices.”

Although true, the most critical element for any information-rich customer service site is credibility. In short, if consumers (who are, thankfully, becoming more cynical every hour) do not have high confidence and trust in the source of the information, the recommendations will have no credibility and consequently no persuasive value.

Wednesday’s launch still seemed rough, with a news release directing interested parties to a page for samples, but the page was filled with holding place questions, as in “Your Q: Your Q: Your Q: Your Q: Your Q: Your Q: Your Q: Your Q: Your.” At least I hope that was a holding place question.

But deeper in the site, there were some answered questions and those answers were rather troubling, to the extent that a consumer is searching for credibility. The answers all seemed to be peppy and not especially neutral. One question asked: “Where can I find a great deal online for Sony VAIO VGN-CR507E Q 14 1 Laptop 1 86 GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core T2390 Processor?” The answer: “What a great solid little system that you can really do a lot on. You can really get a great buy at Amazon or Best Buy.” Do you get the sense that answer could have been written before the question was written?


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