8thBridge – formerly Alvenda – provides a social shopping platform where large retailers can engage customers inside Facebook and on the merchant’s ecommerce site, as well. Customers are empowered to shop with merchants on their own terms in a shopping experience that emphasizes three P’s:
- Portable – The shopping experience happens in the Facebook News Feed, so it travels from newsfeed to newsfeed. When a customer shares a product or purchase with Facebook friends, 8thBridge attaches the store so their friends can pick up something for themselves. In fact, 80 percent of total shopping across the 8thBridge platform is engagement driven by fans sharing the store with friends.
- Personalized – Through 8thBridge’s Fan Page Stores, shoppers can create a personalized wish list, which can be shared so that those items can be purchased by friends. Fan Page stores allow brands to create targeted, customized storefronts for their most loyal customers.
- Participatory – Shoppers can share newsfeed stories with friends who can also shop in the same store. On the merchant’s own ecommerce site, customers login using their Facebook credentials and have a similar experience.
8thBridge Client Roster
The company primarily covers three major sectors: fashion, retail and entertainment. The client roster is stellar and includes such well-known brands as Land’s End, Delta Airlines, Electronic Arts, 1-800-FLOWERS, 7 For All Mankind, Paramount Pictures and 20th Century Fox. In fact, 8thBridge works with over 50 leading brands that, in total, have created 30,000 social shopping stores inside Facebook.
If you’ve ever purchased flowers from the 1-800-FLOWERS Facebook store, for example, you were using 8thBridge’s app. Similarly, if you’ve purchased airline tickets on Delta’s Ticket Counter app, you’ve interacted with the company’s product.
8thBridge runs with a rather small pack of social shopping platform providers: Milyoni – which I covered earlier in the week – ShopIgniter, Moontoast and Payvment, which I’ll be covering in subsequent posts.
What makes the company unique is that shopping is done via newsfeed stories – shoppers can purchase a product directly from their newsfeed without ever leaving Facebook. The transaction is handled securely, but fully within Facebook’s ecosystem.
Stores tend to be very campaign driven – flash stores, movie launches, etc – so they don’t tend to live for long periods of time.
The following is a series of screenshots that outline the purchase process.
Examples of 8thBridge Apps
As mentioned earlier, the 8thBridge platform powers Delta Airline’s Ticket Counter app in Facebook. The app allows users to search, book and share flights within the social network. Impressed with the app’s uniqueness, AdAge included it in the “Book of Tens” as one of the top 10 marketing apps for 2010.
The company also helped with the launch of Transformers 3 by building an app that allowed the purchase of movie tickets. Customers could share the purchase with friends and view a trailer inside the app within the News Feed.
In the past two years, 8thBridge has received two major rounds of funding: $5 million in November 2009 and a Series B in March 2011 for $10 million. 8thBridge’s primary funding sources are Splitrock Partners and Trident Capital, both well-known for providing funding for technology startups.
There is no out of the box or “one size fits all” solution from 8thBridge. Price depends on the client’s need. Typically, companies can expect to pay $1,000s per month.
8thBridge, founded in 2008 as Alvenda, is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is led by a team of executives with domain expertise in ecommerce, direct marketing, social media, and online publishing. They include:
- Wade Gerten, CEO, former VP at Oracle
- Jamie Thingelstad, COO/CTO, former CTO of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network
- Nick Bellomo, CFO, former VP at Trident Capital
- Jon Kubo, CPO, former CIO at Wet Seal
Currently, 8thBridge is focused on US-based markets, so nothing of an international nature exists just yet. Interested parties may contact the company by phone – 612-927-3434 or via email.