Why can’t online purchasing be as easy as asking “Hey, can I have some more?” I’m thrilled to announce our investment in e-commerce disrupter Blueprint’s £1M Seed investment round, alongside Magnus Rausing and Founders Factory. At a time when friction-less online retail and customer service is so crucial, Blueprint are reimagining how we purchase and communicate with our favourite brands online. We are excited to back Harvey Hodd and the team (you can read the announcement in The Telegraph).
Investing in strong entrepreneurs who are solving massive problems they’ve personally faced isn’t exactly a tough decision. When I first met Harvey, I immediately realised the strength of his unusual career path. He’s an ex professional football player, who had previously successfully founded a business in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) space. While running energy drinks company Matcha Works, he realised how hard it was to establish a direct relationship with its customers. He decided to build a solution:
“The vision was really to reduce all friction surrounding purchasing and communication and make buying a product as easy as “Hey, can I have some more?”
It’s not a hard sell. Modern messaging has changed the way we communicate. It has transformed how we keep in touch with friends and family, how we interact in the workplace, how we get our news. Yet, despite ample evidence that consumers are ready to communicate with and buy from brands using messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, iMessage, Viber and WeChat (Facebook Commerce Report; Business Messaging Research Study) for the most part western businesses still rely on mass emails, social media and call centres to promote and sell their products. This has resulted in a terrible experience for the end customer.
The current models of communication and purchasing within e-commerce have been in place for almost two decades. Online purchasing is filled with friction points for consumers. Long log-ins and checkout forms, multiple pages and slow load times get between finding a product you like and actually purchasing it. This frustrating experience is compounded every time you visit the website and purchase a product again, ultimately leading to customer churn. Communicating with a brand is slow and disconnected with email and social media.
The potential for brands to engage with customers and sell goods using personalised messages (conversational commerce) is vast. Recent research show that conversational commerce technology provides up to four times more sales conversion than traditional buying channels such as email and social media. Conversational commerce is powerful because it makes interactions between the brand and the consumer feel so much more human. But also because it reduces the number of steps the customer has to take to compete an action (e.g. a purchase).
From a technical standpoint, the ubiquity of smartphones (today messaging apps have over 5bn monthly active users) unlimited data plans, richer media capabilities and natural language processing (NLP) are converging to enable compelling and effective marketing and payment capabilities. On the Chinese app WeChat, 170m people browse for products — and pay for them — every day on more than 600,000 “mini-programs” within the app. They hail cabs, buy groceries, book doctor’s appointments and even get beauty products. In the West, declining email open rates (the average email open rate in the US and Europe is 41% vs 97% of SMS) and saturated social media channels have made marketers desperate for new ways to reach customers.
We believe that Blueprint has the potential to offer a unique solution. The company enables customers and brands to seamlessly communicate and purchase products using only messaging applications such as SMS and WhatsApp (avoiding switching channels, logging in and downloading).
Over the past year and armed with a world-class development team, Blueprint has created a sophisticated language extraction and unique transactional infrastructure to build the future of purchasing and communication with conversational commerce. What that means is the idea of purchasing a product in a single message is now less of a vision, and more of a reality.
A process as simple as “Hey, can I have some more?”
I’m especially pleased to back Blueprint because this venture is so in line with our investment thesis at Hambro Perks: backing exceptional founders who have unique insights into targeting massive markets with a defensible technology product that solves a real problem. Looking forward to our first board meeting!
Matilde Giglio, Principal