Buy, buy! Sell, sell! It’s not all about Wall Street. New York has long been a center for commerce, and e-commerce is no exception. Here are some of the e-commerce enablers who are transforming the city from pure brick and mortar to click and order, and/or who have facilitated the process. They’re the e-commerce players and facilitators who’ve got the goods – and help you set up shop, or make sure you’ve got what you need, where and when you need it. From monthly subscriptions to better fits to more targeted audiences to the ‘pipes’ and the analytics that facilitate the process, they are the people and the companies, the products and the solutions that are changing consumer habits. And keeping them coming back for more.
Founder’s note: AlleyWatch does not have a financial relationship with any of those included. This list is in no particular order nor is it a ranking. In fact, the =RAND() function on excel was used to determine order.
You’ll also notice that we have opted not to include any photographs of those selected. We do not take into account a person’s race, color, national origin, ancestry, creed, age, sex, disability, arrest or conviction record, marital status, sexual orientation, and military status; just the merit of their accomplishments.
David S. Montoya,
Founder & CEO, Satisfi
There’s nothing like a happy customer – and with social media being as ubiquitous as it is, nothing worse than an unhappy one or several. Satisfi is a real-time, mobile enterprise platform that allows consumers to communicate directly with a business via their smart device while they are on-site or in-store, and in turn allows the business to quickly solve problems. Is it an ecommerce enabler? Many brick and mortars have an online presence and the last thing they want is bad word of mouth or a negative review online. Satisfi readily addresses issues: make the customer happy where they shop by, and you’re more likely to reach them where they live.
Alexandra Wilkis Wilson
Co-founder & CEO, GLAMSQUAD
Co-founder & Strategic Advisor, Gilt Groupe
Alexandra Wilkis Wilson first became recognized as an innovative entrepreneur for her role as co-founder of Gilt, one of the first and most successful flash sale sites in the US. Gilt has attracted over 9 million members since its launch in 2007, ships to over 180 countries and sells over 4,000 international brands. She has assumed multiple roles within Gilt and Gilt City during her time with the company, initially as Chief Merchandising Officer, and she continues to act as Strategic Advisor to Gilt.
Her latest venture is GLAMSQUAD, an on-demand beauty service (via app) that brings the hair and makeup artists directly to the client. It’s giving salons a run for their money – and hey, since you can order just about everything else on line, why not, although in this case, we like to think of this as ‘me-commerce.’
Co-founder & Chief Design Officer, Fab
Mention Fab.com and everyone thinks Jason Goldberg. Bradford Shellhammer is the co-founder and visionary creative genius behind the brand. And one of the many members of the senior management team who left the company after Goldberg pivoted. Again.
Shellhammer has been named one of the ‘100 Most Creative People in Business’ by Fast Company and coined the ‘King of Quirk’ by Forbes Magazine and the ‘Eames of E-Commerce’ by USA Today. Better-known co-founder Jason Goldberg himself once referred to Shellhammer as Fab’s secret weapon.
Shellhammer is the recipient of the Webby, Crunchie, Wowie, and Bloggie awards and sits on the Advisory Boards of 72Lux and Heartwork.
Founder & CEO, Abbey Post
Abbey Post is the startup that’s bringing more fashionable clothing to plus-sized women. More than that, it’s a social commerce marketplace that’s connecting makers of plus size fashion (indie designers, brands and boutiques) with the shoppers, and the site’s exclusive 3D body scanning technology, called Find Your Fit, helps them to accurately recommend items chosen for the shopper’s precise body measurements and shape – and Cynthia Schames is the big personality behind it all. Nothing stops the Abbey Post founder and CEO, who says about herself on her LinkedIn profile: “I’m passionate about serving the needs of the underserved, marginalized and neglected.”
And she means it!
She’s everywhere and seems to be on everyone’s radar these days, but AlleyWatch discovered her way back when…(Yes, we know that she recently relocated to SF, but New York is where it all started.)
CEO & Founder, Poshly
Doreen Bloch is the super posh CEO & founder of Poshly, the personalization fashion tech company that builds data-driven tech for the beauty industry, connecting beauty brands with consumers.
The real beauty of the platform is the way that the company is collecting data. Think hyper-personal. Poshly members discover beauty products that are best suited to them and their lifestyles, while brands better understand the preferences and personas of consumers in real-time. Oh, members get free stuff, too and that’s always a big draw. Way to go, Doreen!
Co-founder, Bespoke Post
Rishi Prabhu is co-founder of Bespoke Post, a monthly subscription box filled with very high quality items for men, but there’s more to the story. Prabhu and co-founder Steve Szaronos founded a(nother) company that was part of Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator and just before Demo Day, they decided to pivot. Never mind that their (other) company had paying customers and it was the 11th hour. But sometimes there’s just no stopping alpha males on a mission and ecommerce startup Bespoke Post was born, delivering their monthly box of awesome for men: members receive a recurring personalized package filled with guy stuff – a skinny tie, a grill set, a slab of bacon, a gentleman’s shaving kit. You know – stuff to keep men current without them having to worry about it. Unlike most subscription boxes, members get to preview the new offerings on the first of each month, and can skip any month if those selections aren’t their cuppa. Well done!
Co-founder & CEO, NUMARI
Komal Kushalraj is co-founder and CEO of NUMARI, an e-commerce brand that challenges outdated traditional mass manufacturing and instead focuses on the individual customers’ needs. Because body types are all different and say, a size 7 fits different size 7s differently, each garment is hand crafted to a customer’s measurements and styling preferences, then produced at a competitive price point by compressing the supply chain and adopting cutting-edge technology. The result: better fitting apparel that’s accessible, affordable, selected online – and conveniently delivered directly to the customer’s doorstep.
Co-founder, Clothes Horse
Buying clothing online has been something of a crapshoot, and it’s all about the fit. That’s the problem that Clothes Horse is addressing – and solving: the company’s core product is a recommendation engine that retailers embed on their site, that recommends sizes, based on a shopper’s body details and favorite clothes – and of course, a predictive algorithm. The end result: a better fit, and a better fit means few returns, which has always been a headache for online retailers. Their differentiator: the number of case studies they’ve conducted. The results: between their analytics, competitive intelligence, design and propriety data, the Clothes Horse widget is able to tell customers which size to buy, and how it will fit. It’s a game changer. And a major problem solver.
Founder & CEO, Bonobos; Founder, RedSwan Ventures
Andy Dunn is the young Stanford Business School grad (and former Lands End employee) who took Bonobos from an online-only pants-selling business to a company selling a full menswear line. What set Bonobos apart was the fit: they launched with khakis that eliminated the “Khaki Diaper Butt.” Yeah, that’ll put you on the map and in the zeitgeist. Now Bonobos sells a full line of (properly fitting) menswear, online, at Bonobos kiosks, and in Nordstrom.
Dunn is also Founder of Red Swan Ventures, which invests in early stage, customer-centric, disruptive companies, like Birchbox, Warby Parker, Harry’s and Chloe+Isabel. Of course, he has a penchant for ecommerce disruptors.
The premise couldn’t be simpler: Browsy transforms Pinterest fashion boards into one’s own browsable shopping catalogue. And what good is an online catalog if you can’t easily make a purchase? Browsy identifies products that people pin and helps shoppers buy them at the lowest price. A simple idea, well executed and for Pinterest pinners who’ve been pining to literally get the goods. Ecommerce engines take many forms. This one is simply and beautifully done.
Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, David Gilboa & Jeffrey Raider
Co-founders, Warby Parker
There is no one in the company named Warby Parker – the name comes from two characters that appear in a journal by Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouak – despite the fact that there are four WP founders – Neil Blumenthal, Andrew Hunt, David Gilboa, and Jeffrey Raider – and probably as many stories as to what inspired the bespectacled quartet to found the company. The problem was simple: the eyewear industry is dominated by a single company that has been able to keep prices artificially high in the name of reaping huge profits from consumers who have no other options. Warby Parker was the fashionable, cost-effective alternative. Their eyewear is designed in house, and customer engagement is accomplished online (there are now few showrooms as well). Thus they were able to provide higher-quality, better-looking prescription eyewear at a fraction of the going price.
Because a billion people worldwide do not have access to prescription glasses, they also partners with non-profits like VisionSpring (where Blumenthal once worked) to ensure that for every pair of glasses sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need. Awesome!
Hayley Barna & Katia Beauchamp
Co-founder & Co-CEOs, Birchbox
Like the name says, it’s a monthly birch box, filled with personalized beauty, grooming, and lifestyle samples, tailored to one’s profile and preferences – and catering to men as well as to women.
Founded by Harvard Business School grads Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, BIrchbox was a relatively early monthly subscription service (2010), and they’ve come a long way from the box of sample cosmetics they started with.
We know that they didn’t invent the model and yes, we do remember the days of 10 CDs for a penny (remember CDs?), but these two gave the whole subscription service model – ok, we’ll say it – a makeover.
Founder & CEO, SureDone
Jason Nadaf is Founder and CEO of Sure Done, a one stop shop that allows vendors to sell across today’s biggest marketplaces. So you can list your products on eBay, Amazon, and your eCommerce Storefront in 1-click, then manage your eBay, Amazon and eCommerce storefronts out of one platform, with bulk listing, inventory management, centralized orders and fulfillment. In other words, think of Sure Done as the world’s first webstore builder.
Fun facts: Nadaf was also the company’s first developer. In fact, he had to teach himself how to code in order to launch Sure Done in the first place. And while there wasn’t an accelerator in NYC who would accept him, for the record, his last funding round ($1 M) was oversubscribed. It’s a good story and you can read all about it here.
Founder & CEO, Chloe + Isabel
The Avon Lady might have started it: giving women an opportunity to be entrepreneurial by direct selling to the customer. Chantel Waterbury, founder and CEO of Chloe + Isabel, took that concept and added the tech layer with virtual trunk shows that allow sellers to reach customers anywhere in the country at the same time – and on mobile. Sellers select the merchandise they want to offer, announce the start time of the trunk show and when it goes live, it’s becomes a social commerce experience where customers can chat with each other, make purchases and share their wish lists. The proprietary platform is also a means to give young entrepreneurs their start.
Besides empowering women through social retail and offering a brand that women love, Waterbury also makes herself available to mentor young entrepreneurs.