The pandemic made us move our shopping experience online in a major way. However, most of us remember the joys of offline shopping as we closely viewed the products from different settings and angles, touching the products to understand the feel, before arriving at a decision. It is indeed a limitation, to not experience these with online shopping.
Thankfully, more brands these days are embracing video commerce strategy. One of these brands is Swirl, previously known as GetNatty, an online-to-offline designer brands aggregator founded in 2016. Founded by Kaizad Hansotia and Bheshaj Joshi, the brand has onboarded over 350 brands on its platform. They have serviced more than 25,000 customers across 10 cities and raised seven-figure funding round in 2019.
How Did Swirl Emerge?
The team was working on a video commerce strategy in early 2020 just before the pandemic hit. The demand for a video solution rose during the lockdowns as it played a critical role in reaching more customers. Almost all the brands with the platform used WhatsApp videos to engage and sell their products. This is when Kaizad and Bheshaj gambled on building a live commerce solution.
The name ‘Swirl’ was inspired by the 360-degree view (or swirl) of a product that viewers asked for in a video. The founders noted that after a swirl, the viewer usually turned into a buyer. This is how they got the insight to rename GetNatty as Swirl in its new avatar with the primary focus on making sales easy for all brands.
Swirl is a SaaS platform that offers retail brands a phygital answer to the growing problems of abandoned shopping carts and fleeting browsing sessions. It helps brands transform their eCommerce initiatives with hyper-engaging, shoppable videos that hold attention, bring a more human touch to online shopping, and enhance purchase.
Kaizad Hansotia, Co-Founder and Business Head of Swirl says, “Swirl is one of the most affordable live commerce solutions in the market today, but it offers a fully-loaded features list in addition to a first-in-class simulcast option on Instagram. As of today, merely two years since inception, Swirl’s clientele stretches across Finland, Brazil, Singapore, USA, and India.”
The Key Differentiator Of Swirl:
The most valued feature according to clients is the platform’s no-code integration with web platforms like Shopify, as well as easy integration with WooCommerce and other platforms.
Furthermore, Swirl recently launched a simulcast feature that allows brands to tap into their social media follower base. Until now, most live commerce platforms have not been able to offer an option to simulcast to Instagram, due to the closed algorithm of the social media platform. In February 2022, after multiple iterations and the discovery of Swirl’s ‘secret sauce’, the company launched simulcasting across Facebook, Youtube, and Instagram. This enhances the market reach of the brand as well as increases purchases.
What Does Swirl’s Market Strategy Look Like?
The largest base for Swirl is in the retail segment; specifically, apparel and beauty as expected. It is seen that apparel and beauty brands have adopted live commerce at a far higher pace than most other verticals. However, the company has also worked with F&B, hospitality, and consumer electronics, and is also making inroads into telecom, auto, and luxury jewellery markets.
As 5G makes its entry, the interactive video landscape is set to explode around the world. So far in 2022, videos are responsible for 82% of internet traffic but this is an unorganized space with large areas of grey.
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Kaizad Hansotia says, “Swirl and our fellow live commerce platforms are heading into unexplored territory and will have to forge our own paths. We expect to see a boom as Web 3.0 goes mainstream, and are preparing for a cookie-less future, true internet democracy, and of course, the Metaverse. It’s an exciting time for anyone in the digital space, but even more so for players in the interactive video industry.”
Product-led growth is a priority for Swirl, but it is also a part of the brand strategy. In the current live commerce market, the unique features and affordable entry pricing draw customers to the platform, offering a rich source of organic traffic.
These are the conversations that convert fastest, explains Kaizad Hansotia. “We enjoy our conversations with CXOs, Heads of Marketing, Sales Heads, and similar profiles. We find that at these positions, clients are already aware of the pressing need for a more engaging platform, and are keen to discuss product demos, answers to FAQs, and more advanced topics.”
Expanding Business Into Areas Beyond Retail
Swirl currently has several ongoing large enterprise clients, a clutch of start-ups, and a few mid-sized companies as part of the client list. With multiple success stories across retail, fashion, apparel, and beauty and wellness, Swirl is now venturing into auto, F&B, and other industries.
As a SaaS platform, it keeps a rigid focus on the product. For business and expansion, channel partners are key. Swirl has started working with channel partners in Brazil, the USA, and Finland, and is currently in talks with several other partners encompassing different geographies. In the recent past, Swirl has teamed up with a few large digital and influencer agencies to offer their services to a wide range of clients across verticals.
Encountering Challenges and Competitors
Bheshaj Joshi is optimistic about the challenges that lie ahead. “The nature of the digital beast is such that change is the only constant,” he says. “Even as we focus on scaling the business, we have to keep an eye on the future. We pride ourselves on our agility, but our roadmaps for business, finances, and products have already weathered several evolutions including a pandemic, and today we’re more likely to have Plan Bs and Plan Cs in place than we were two years ago.”
Swirl is part of a small list of live commerce platforms like Bambuser, Firework, Revo, and a few others who can be considered direct competitors. However, the team counts Facebook Live, Instagram Live, and other social media shopping features as indirect competition as well.
A Financial Growth That’s Going Higher Each Quarter
Swirl has raised a total of USD 500,000 in funding, including the latest pre-seed round in September 2021. Since the initial funding, it has seen a growth of 300% QOQ, and will soon begin to raise an institutional round.
Swirl caters to a B2B (Business to Business) clientele comprising mid to large enterprises. It offers 4 plans as part of its bi-annual subscription basis; Trial, Basic, and Premium.
The platform has partnered with over 100 brands in India, including ITC Unlimited, VIVO, Fashion by Arvind, GIVA, Zariin, and more. It has also worked with Finnish brands like Ivana Helsinki and Kamppi Helsinki.
“We think every consumer-facing brand is going to need an innovative video experience on their website,” Kaizad Hansotia explains when asked about his vision for Swirl. “We are potentially looking at a $1 trillion opportunity which means video-led sales engagement models will occupy 10-15% of global e-commerce market share by 2025.”
The Team That Makes It Happen
Kaizad Hansotia is a seasoned entrepreneur and has previously built (and raised funding for) MyTestBuddy, GetNatty, and now Swirl. With his background, Kaizad is a Co-Founder and also heads the Business Development and Sales teams at Swirl.
Bheshaj Joshi is the Co-Founder at Swirl and heads the Product team. He previously co-founded a health-tech start-up, e-Mediworld, and has also worked at NASA and GetNatty.