Irish start-up VendorShop, which is pioneering ‘F-commerce’ on Facebook, has secured investment funding of €400,000. The company is aiming to grow its team to 10 people over the next 12 months and to double its workforce within two years, while it also has ambitious expansion plans.
The Dublin-based company was set up in 2010 and has pioneered a Facebook pop-up store application for businesses to sell their products and services directly to customers. It has sourced the funding from Government agency Enterprise Ireland and two private investors.
Speaking this morning, Chris Small, one of the company’s co-founders, said the investment would be used to expand the development team and be targeted towards scaling up its expansion plans overseas.
"We expect to grow the team to 10 people over the next 12 months and to double that within two years," he said.
Small said the company is also considering raising additional funds during 2012 to enable the business to scale more quickly. "Our goal is to establish a significant presence in the US and open a sales office in Australia."
Small himself hails from Australia, but has been living in Ireland for some time now. The company’s other co-founder is Tony Casey.
It was in 2010 that the duo decided to capitalise on the social networking platform Facebook. They sensed there was an opportunity for businesses to sell their products and services directly to fans and customers via their Facebook pages.
Capitalising on Facebook
Fast-forward to 2012, and VendorShop now has more than 100,000 active Facebook users and is being used by retailers in more than 15 countries, including Ireland, the UK, the US, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The platform works by embedding its VendorShop shopping cart software onto Facebook pages.
This allows merchants to promote and sell their products directly from their Facebook pages without redirecting customers to another website, explained Small.
He said the shopping cart also carries the McAfee Secure and VeriSign Trust marks.
He alluded to the psychology of F-commerce, as businesses can reward their best online customers via their Facebook pages and offer discounts and rewards, for instance.
“For example, a fashion retailer might offer an exclusive discount or launch its new-season range initially to its Facebook fans."
Small gave the example of one of the company’s clients, Rabia Z, a fashion retailer in Dubai.
The retailer has 20,000 Facebook page likes and uses VendorShop as a pop-up store solution.
"In October, the brand launched its autumn-winter range on Facebook and did $US30,000 in sales on the social networking site in just a few weeks. The retailer also saw an increase in customer traffic to its studio," said Small.