ShopShops

It’s been a busy week on the USV news front. On Tuesday we rolled out our new thesis and yesterday we announced our latest investment, ShopShops.

I was talking to a young woman this week who we are interviewing for our two-year analyst program. I asked her why she was interested in working at USV.

She told me she liked that we posted our investment memos on our blog so that everyone knows why we made the investment, how it fits with our thesis, and why we are excited about it.

That is something we have been doing since the early days and is core to how we approach investing at USV.

You can go back and look at what we were thinking when we invested in Twitter, Twilio, Cloudflare, Coinbase, and pretty much any USV investment.

We don’t write investment memos for the files at USV, something I used to do at earlier VC firms I worked at. We just write them to the world. It puts our thinking out there and it stays there in perpetuity.

So yesterday Rebecca did that for our newest investment, ShopShops.

I like to think of ShopShops as what QVC would be in a global decentralized world where everything is live streamed on our phones.

This graphic from their website explains how it works:

Basically, hosts go into stores and livestream shopping experiences to viewers all over the world who can buy from stores they aren’t able to shop in.

This is a screenshot of ShopShops founder Liyia Wu doing a shopping event for viewers in China.

Time will tell if our investment in ShopShops lives up to everything we are expecting from it.

But I am excited by this idea, this founder, and this investment and I am thrilled we made it and told the world why.

#entrepreneurship#livestreaming#marketplaces

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    As someone who personally sold on camera at the Home Shopping Network I get this.I’ve also tried to do parts of this prematurely on Facebook early on and failed as I was too early and big pieces were missing.It’s super complex to do technically and equally as complex in its partnership arrangements with brands and the cross cultural, cross world connections it is based on. Especially when it scales past word of mouth for customer acquisition. A marketing puzzle globally touching incredibly diverse cultures.I hope it works. In theory it could.At the end of the day it is making behavioral assumptions about people and loose communities of interest. If they are correct, it’s a big bang win.

    1. William Mougayar

      Have you thought of doing it during a buying spree at Chambers for eg?Would this make sense for wine buying?

      1. awaldstein

        yes i have.complex answer and glad to share on a call.right now i’m simply having fun with it, writing a long form interview every week and redigging back in to my thelocalsip extended community.

    2. Richard

      Ha! I never made it on the air but came close. This is a tough one, competing against QVC and Amazon. I’m sure USV is hoping for an over priced yahoo type aqusition on this one.

      1. awaldstein

        Amazon is an amazing catalog we all buy from. But they sell nothing and don’t know how to play in the assisted sale market that is built on community.That’s where this plays to my thinking.

        1. Richard

          Of course (as you can see from this board the idea is not new but timing may be better (though margins are really tough here) but Amazon, Facebook, Macy’s, QVC are certainly working on this in house and Fred knows this. I’m sure an acquisition by Amazon et al. is one of USVs high probability exit scenariosThis isn’t one of those “I should have thought of that” or “it will never work (contrarian) plays”

  2. LIAD

    I like it. The broadening access piece is compelling .The payments, shipping, logistics piece must be a nightmare .Not sure why but concept brought to mind turntable FM. Groups participating collectively in a hereto individual activity. This with the added allure of retail therapy and the excitement of suprise discoveries

    1. fredwilson

      I hope it works out better than that oneHere is what I wrote about Turntable when we announced that investmenthttps://www.usv.com/blog/tu…

      1. jason wright

        AKA ‘churntable dot fm’not sticky enough. why was that? i’m here to learn. i’m not addicted.

      2. Richard

        Felt like you had your heart in turntable. I was all in on it. Seemed like a it was oh so close to going viral

    2. Twain Twain

      Remember, in Sept 2016, USV invested in Shippo so maybe they can help with the shipping & logistics part.

      1. PhilipSugar

        See my comment. You need a consolidator.

        1. LE

          This is one of the things that they don’t teach in business school that they should by giving overviews of concepts more than specifics. All sorts of things that you pick up or learn over time that aren’t usually formally taught. Like “LTL” in trucking ‘less than trailer/truck load’. [1] And it’s funny if the schools even taught concepts instead of memorization you could easily apply in another case which is even more helpful. I run into people constantly who I help and I say ‘we can buy an option’ and they say ‘oh I didn’t know you could do that when buying XYZ’ and I say ‘sure why not’. Nobody ever taught me that I could do that either. I just do it because it makes sense.[1] Worked at a company in the early 90’s for a short time in SV that was shipping heavy printers by Fedex. I said ‘why don’t we just send it by truck’. They didn’t even know you could do this all they knew was ‘ship Fedex’. (Kind of like Aol is the internet thinking..).

          1. sigmaalgebra

            You have a lot of such good lessons about real business not in a B-school.As a former B-school and MBA prof, sure, lots of people have thought such things about B-school course content.So, okay: Write book intended for a course to teach such things. Maybe give some guest lectures, say, as a Lecturer in Entrepreneurial Practice, at a B-school. Then try to grow that into an MBA elective course. Co-teach the course with a B-school prof. Sell the book! Do a second edition with lots more such content!Let the B-school profs who want to do research take some of the points, issues, situations, loose ends, etc. and do some research to make more solid progress. The practical stuff usually needs its quality up by several levels from some research, and research profs love to have their work obviously applicable right away!Let some students work in guided apprenticeship style on some of the issues. Have your co-teaching prof arrange such apprenticeship slots for the students at various area businesses.Generally B-schools have lots of seminars with solutions looking for problems but very few on real business problems looking for solutions. B-schools are rarely clinical like medicine; e.g., there are few business people in the halls looking for cures for the ills of their business.So, generally get B-schools more professional, closer to real business, less like trying to be applied social science like engineering is often applied physical science.I came close to such things once: The B-school wanted some good computing, and they and the university were way behind. Well, I’d just come from a relatively good computing environment, was a good user and system administrator, was technical lead on a selection committee, etc. So, I led a successful effort to get the college up to date in computing.Then I announced a grad course in computer selection – “speeds, capacities, costs, principles of operation”. So, for the first half of the course, I gave lectures and demos. In the second half I had vendors, IBM, DEC, etc. give presentations. Instead of a final exam, the students wrote papers. Since it was a graduate course, the grading was not very severe!Several students formed a team, got deep into computing more specifically for office word and document processing, and wrote an impressive paper.The course really was popular. One student said “This is what I came to the university to learn about computing.”. I gave lots of little demos in class, and there were some big TV screens so that the students could see what I typed. So I could show the bits in floating point numbers, some machine code, etc. I had a lot of facility. So one of the students said that she “Want to be able to tickle the keys as well as you do.”.Such can be a course in a B-school.

          2. PhilipSugar

            I agree. Schools think it is beneath them. I am amazed sometimes though by people that have no idea how business works. I ran into a marketing person that was in charge of direct mail but they had no idea how something got printed, pre-sorted, and mailed. None, zero, zip. Amazing. Asked if they ever went to a facility….nope.

          3. LE

            Hah! This must be the person who is in charge of marketing at (former USV company) Indeed.com At the office here I get mailers on a somewhat regular basis for people that don’t work here. Last time I got maybe 5 or 6. All what appeared to be random names at my company name. All from Indeed.com [1] Complete waste of money on their part for marketing. Buying bad lists and just spraying out.[1] From other companies but it stood out when from Indeed because of the USV connection.

          4. PhilipSugar

            We partnered with a company to do customized mailings. It is very easy to extract data, put in on a SFTP server and then have a mail house print custom pieces for each person, and pre-sort. But people can’t do it.You better believe I personally flew my ass out to Grand Rapids, MI to check out the plant and facility.I think it is curiosity AND not thinking something is beneath you. See my MyUS example. When I went there I asked them if I could just get a quick tour after our meeting, you know just take a peek with anybody.The salesperson I was with looked surprised, but of course I am the boss.The CFO beamed and said of course, I was the only one that asked, and that he would be glad to personally conduct the tour.

          5. LE

            – When I set up another label company in the 90’s (before the net) I traveled all over the country to see equipment that I was considering buying in operation. Guys in the plant are always happy to have someone to talk to that are interested in what they do. I even took videos of the equipment operating at every place. Nobody objected.- My wife and I are buying another shore condo. The management company said they never had as many questions or requests. They think I am a paint in the ass. I wasn’t able to make it to be with the engineer who we hired to inspect. One thing I wanted him to do was check the building mechanicals room. That is way beyond what you pay for in a condo inspection. My wife said ‘oh he doesn’t do that they won’t do that’. I got on the phone with him and said ‘just take a look and tell me whether you think it’s well maintained in appearance’. He said ‘sure no problem’. Turns out they just replaced everything it’s all brand new. Of course ‘all’ who knows what that covers. But my point was you can always tell at least on the surface who is maintaining equipment by a few tell tail factors.- Another place we were looking at the realtor said ‘the a/c is new I was here when they replaced it (she was also the realtor who rented it). I looked at the air handler and it was old and obviously original. She said ‘no it’s new they replaced it two years ago I was here’. I said ‘must have been the compressor the air handler is an old original unit’. Didn’t have to even run the serial number. The metal alone gave it away from 20 feet. My wife was clueless. (Not a dig just not her thing).- The guy who bought the printing business didn’t know anything about machinery (was a sales guy). Two years after the sale one of the paper cutters seizes because it hadn’t been lubed at all and maintained. Big bill but more importantly you lose production (and potentially clients).- The accounting firm that I am with today (is now BDO but was a Philly office back then) from back in the 80’s I did a tour to compare them to another local firm. They were quite surprised as was the other firm that I looked at. The firm that I didn’t pick kind of laughed at the whole idea of seeing their office. The firm that I picked actually had a pretty good dog and pony show. I didn’t have an agenda just wanted to see what was going on.And a 1000 other stories.Remember when I got my first big printing contract I had no employees and brought people in to look busy. And the two women from purchasing were totally satisfied and picked us over Xerox corp. for the contract. Kind of funny when you think about it. They didn’t even notice I didn’t have the equipment to do the work (I had to get it during the trial period and hope to keep the contract).There is a guy on KYW (Brad “____”) who was at a party with my ex wife and I in the early 90’s. The sound system went bad. Someone said to him ‘hey Brad do you…’. He cut them off “I am on air talent I don’t do that” (maybe a union thing who knows).There is one other factor you have to consider in addition to what you listed. I see it on my condo board here with doctors who don’t want to serve on the board (we need board members). Very clear to me after all these years (and multiple medical condos) that it’s ‘fear of looking stupid’. The doctors don’t want to be on the board not just because they are busy. It’s because they don’t have confidence in what they know to serve and don’t want to appear stupid. Like on an old board one doc (who practically ran a hospital there) who was on the board actually didn’t know why we anyone needed to put signs out front when a condo was empty (sale/lease). He says ‘why does someone need that when I needed a new place I called the realtor and he finds me a place’. Like ‘everyone does it like me so…’. Sure real estate signs don’t work which is why they are all over the place everywhere. Idiot.

          6. PhilipSugar

            You can have two major blind spots.Thinking you are so smart that you know everything. You don’t.Being blissfully stupid.I too had an issue with a real estate agent. My wife said Dottie says the plumbing has all been redone, just last year.I look and say to Dottie WTF? And you are still 18? This is 30 years old or more, obvious.My wife was mortified.Dottie said…..but, but, but…….I know……I told her I am now faced with two options:Either you have absolutely no clue.Or you are a liar.That stuff scares me the most.Because either the person fixing it:1. Is doing your you can only be as honest as the next person, and you wanted a cheap price and they gave you a half assed job2. They were ripping you off, because they knew you have no clue.3. They can’t imagine that you would do more than the bare minimum.I like to think it is number 3. Many times it is. I told you the story of I want quarter turn brass valves, not cheap ass rubber gasket ones, that are going to wear out.”Sir those cost $5 more per valve!!” How much did I pay Bob for the truck roll and minimum one hour of your time????My charitable view is they don’t value their time and think $5 times 10 is a lot of money.My other view is that they want to be out again in three years.

          7. LE

            My charitable view is they don’t value their time and think $5 times 10 is a lot of money.One thing that I learned in the printing business when dealing with people is that some people pay whatever you charge no questions asked. And then some people will absolutely freak out at anything extra you try to charge them and put the fear of god in you. And your CS people then don’t want to talk to them or charge them for changes for fear of being ‘yelled at’. So they get into the habit and making such a fuss that nobody challenges them. “Now you are telling me that I have to pay for WHAT?”. I have a guy in the business I am in now pulling that as well. It is the equivalent of a person in a relationship using moods and anger to get what they want.Now remember (back then) we dealt almost always with businesses. Typically the ‘girl in the office’ was afraid of her boss yelling at her. So we could always tell what the boss was like. If the boss didn’t care then roll up the truck and haul off the money.Anyway my point is when you deal with people spending their own money it’s an entirely different game. People generally watch every cent and complain generally about costs because it’s coming out of their own pocket. Which is why I swear I never want to sell to consumers. Because it’s hard to get that profit.So in the case of your plumber he is used to kickback from the customer on costs for the poor homeowner. So he just generally is cheap. Plus the guy isn’t making that much to begin with so that is why there is ‘builders grade’. One of my first electrical jobs back in the day I got some machines put in and electrician put a panel in. Later I got more machines. He said ‘oh you need a new panel’. Turns out he could have charged me $50 whatever and put it in at that time but didn’t. And no it wasn’t because he wanted to get another job from me either (and I know this for a fact so let’s stipulate that point!)Oh one other thing. That same electrician (he knew my dad from the old country and lived in a row house a small time guy) told me a very important principle. He said ‘if a clients calls you out for a job quote do not quote another job until you have a signed contract for the first job’. Why? Because if the price gets to high people often do nothing. So you get the first job rolling then stall on any other quotes. And of course as we know incremental pricing is easier than all in one. Once you get $5000 easy to get (contrast principle) an extra $1000 later. But $6000 might be ‘to much’ and you get nothing.

          8. PhilipSugar

            I have always fund the iron fist in the velvet glove the best for multiple transactions. I’ll pay up, but then say, I am putting this out to bid and checking your past prices.I think in general dealing with big corporations is the hardest. Purchasing agent just doesn’t care about a relationship. Salesperson…..dying to make a sale.

      2. jason wright

        vertical strategy?

        1. Twain Twain

          Only USV know what their strategy isl

  3. William Mougayar

    I couldn’t find a link to the livestream program, or even archived ones.Where can we view this?

  4. Salt Shaker

    Great idea! Takes personal shopping to another level and the process is far more engaging and targeted than buying on QVC, HSN and/or Amazon. Online users create a virtual connection w/ hosts (the personal shoppers) and their recommendations. Offers convenience and engagement w/ implicit trust.Sub and/or transactional (royalty) model???

    1. LE

      It is almost ‘the perfect crime’. Missing are two things that are used in high end shops. One is atmosphere (there is no atmosphere in a video no matter how good) and alcohol. I remember in the 80’s when I bought some suits at a high end store. (Literally last time I bought that type of clothing). That famous store had the ‘atmosphere’ and also the alcohol. They tried to ply you with drinks and also plenty of attention and good looking women running around acting almost like bottle girls. It was very engaging and made you feel special. Same wouldn’t be true now (would be literally the opposite) but when you are younger and a different mindset it’s like “I have arrived”. By atmosphere I mean ‘smell’ and ‘feel’ and ‘color’ of where you are. Can’t duplicate that on a small screen. One reason why restaurants are more about in some cases entertainment than eating. Actually in most cases.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Yup: When I was in about the ninth grade, I was similarly impressed with a local men’s store Oak Hill. They had pennants of famous collages attached to the walls. Lots of dark stained wood and some overstuffed chairs. So, go there and get the feeling that if buy a shirt, tie, or suit, then will be on the way to Princeton!In the ninth grade, I still didn’t know much about the real world, knew so little that such simple marketing atmosphere tricks could have an effect.Right on-line, can’t really get that effect — maybe someday with some virtual reality head set? Naw, still can’t get the smells or the gorgeous female clerks! And the US malls — where the girls went to shop, gossip, socialize, maybe shop, etc. But we can notice that a lot of the malls are shutting down.But if buy from Tiffany’s, then get a box in their particular blue color. So, get not only the necklace or whatever but also that blue box! Some customer may covet the cherish the box as much as the necklace! So, go to the Tiffany’s Web site, look at one of their boxes, use a screen pixel color picker program to get the RGB values of the color, and then with the RGB values, use that color in a drawing program to do a logo! Naw, no one would do that!!!

  5. JimHirshfield

    Great idea. Well suited to your thesis.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Great take down of the British and their goal of prestige via suit tailoring! Also a heck of a take down of “shopping experiences”.Often the English and British have been world leaders, e.g., their navy, coal, iron, steam, Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, but also at times they have been a bit elitist, arrogant, pompous, stiff, stuffy, and disconnected from reality. So, in the spoof, in walks an American, and we see the great contrast between the down to earth, practical American and the all wound up, overwrought British and, in particular, one place the British remain terrific, and IMHO the only high point, the only even good point, of their long dedication back to Chaucer, to fiction — comedy!Yup, I really hate Shakespeare, but British comedy is likely the world’s best!

    1. Richard

      Ha! That screen shot screams “trusted” and “brand”

  6. Joe Lazarus

    I’ve been thinking about QVC for the web for years: https://twitter.com/joelaz/…Overseas buyers are an interesting angle to get retailers to participate early on. I’m curious how they manage inventory (shipping, returns, out of stocks) and make money (who processes payment, do they charge the retailer or buyer).

  7. sigmaalgebra

    A simple suggestion for their cartoon image: For the text, make the fonts much larger and the color much darker. There is plenty of room on the page for larger text; larger text can make good use of that room. The small font and the low contrast color might look dignified or some such but they are also darned difficult to read.

  8. Amar

    As “Location” is to real estate, “Timing” is to tech startups.This is exactly what a colleague launched almost 12 years back 🙂 It never took of. I am sure there were lots of reasons – execution, funding, etc. but a big part of it was timing – they preceded or paralleled the mobile revolution instead of following ithttps://www.bizjournals.com…https://www.crunchbase.com/…Their business model as described to crunchbaseShangby is an innovative shopping service that allows Western shoppers to buy items from China, which are considerably cheaper than their counterparts in the United States. The firm, based in Austin, Texas and Shanghai, China, allows users to sign up for “shopping events”, where through a live video feed, they can follow a Shangby shopping guide through jewelry stores in Shanghai. One of the users, a “Shangbuyer”, is picked by the site to lead the shopping excursion, and can direct the shopping guide and the video crew to zoom in on certain items and haggle for prices. These videos are posted on the site for all users to view, and all items examined by the Shangbuyer are available to purchase at the same price (Shangby employees return to stores to buy and ship the items). The site maintains an inventory of all items examined on shopping events.The basis of Shangby’s appeal is the fact that items that are under $1000 in the US are normally 5 to 10 times cheaper in China, while items over $1000 are 2 to 5 times cheaper in China. The site only deals with reputable merchants that sell non-branded merchandise. Shangby collects a handling charge of 15% per purchase, and a shipping fee of $30 for every purchase under $400.

    1. PhilipSugar

      Ha! Shows that there are not that many new ideas, but that is no slam on ShopShops. Timing and execution are everything.

      1. LE

        True. Most things that are good in entertainment (or life I guess) have existed in another form in a prior time period and had ‘traction’ and an audience. Very few things are unique (sure it’s a matter of degree) and haven’t been done at all before. However many things have gotten better and more sophisticated. Small examples are This Old House (with Bob Vila) preceding by many years the enormous amount of shows today that do pretty much the same thing. Shows like “Million Dollar Listing” were preceded by shows before that without as much pizazz. In fact it put one similar show based in NY off the air. [1] A show like “Secret Lives of the Super Rich” came well after “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” which proved the concept. (And in a sense you could say Beverly Hillbillys also was a contributing factor to Lifestyles.Here is something that most people probably haven’t experienced or didn’t know existed. In the very early 80’s I was in Miami and there was a restaurant populated by college kids and there were phones/intercom on all the tables. And you picked up a phone and could call over to a table where there were girls sitting that you wanted to talk to. It was a hotbed of social activity. Was packed. The fact that there was a phone provided enough safety to make everyone feel comfortable and even ease the awkwardness for people who would never ever approach a table in real time.[1] “Selling New York” – https://www.kleiers.com/age

        1. creative group

          LE:It amazes us how so many shows that were actually real (Reality) and not staged/scripted were watch by the baby boomer generation regardless of ethnicity, gender, etc. A case in point ” This Old House (with Bob Vila)” was a favorite. PBS continues to provide excellent programming as NPR.Captain Obvious!#UnequivocallyUnapologeticallyIndependent

        2. sigmaalgebra

          > Most things that are good in entertainment (or life I guess) have existed in another form in a prior time period and had ‘traction’ and an audience.For “prior time period”, what we now call formula fiction was worked out by the ancient Greeks!! So, right, maybe the Pyramids are older! Can conclude that nearly everything in entertainment and media, especially the news, heavily follows formula fiction.So, right, not much really new in entertainment. The printing press, radio, TV, and the Internet still haven’t much changed that situation.But, entertainment aside, still, there’re lots of world and civilization changing things. One of the biggest is the transistor. Physics that let us use nuclear energy is another. Heck, even just the fast Fourier transform changed things a lot, especially oil prospecting. Aluminum, airplanes based on aluminum, high bypass turbojet engines, etc. — plenty new and important. Shouldn’t forget GPS!

      2. Drew Meyers

        Agreed.On that topic, one of my pet peeves is companies that say “first” or “only” in the value prop, press releases, or pitch…it’s virtually always a lie and instantly makes me not trust them and their brand.

    2. Girish Mehta

      “Timing is everything” is so oft-used that it has almost become a cliche. But it is difficult to overstate how important timing is..not just in tech startups, but in life.You might read a book 15 years too early and its significance passes you by. You read a book 15 years too late and you have missed a window of time to apply what you now know. The right book at the right time can change your thinking. Changing your thinking can change your life.Meeting and Knowing a person at the right stage of one’s life. Joining a company at the right stage of not simply the company’s evolution, but an industry’s evolution.So, yes timing is obviously not everything. But, in a way, it (almost) is.

      1. Amar

        Well said. That is also where personal risk lies as well. “risk ∞ reward” is yet another true cliche. Risk lies in spotting a hypothesis before it is fait accompli and having the courage to pursue it. Of course, it is a hypothesis so be prepared to live with it not working out as well 😉

        1. Girish Mehta

          Something I said here once was that Fundamental Truths sound a lot like Cliches.And like the human mind has a mistaken tendency to view one’s own pessimism as a mark of intelligence, we tend to view our ability to spot/call out cliches as a mark of our intelligence.But sometimes that cliche isn’t one, it is a Fundamental Truth.

      2. Lawrence Brass

        The curious thing about timing is that it is hard to predict “good timing” on things other than recurring events such as as birthdays, holidays or paying taxes. All the rest seems to happen in random order or repeating mysterious patterns of events where the only common denominator is.. yourself. :)Can the right time to do something be predicted? or can it be constructed?As an archer decides when it is the right time to release the arrow, I think that the right time is.. when you are ready.

      3. cavepainting

        Timing favors the prepared mind.If you work on the same problem for years or even decades (like Ev Williams), or to the contrary, you are exceptionally tuned in to a problem with a beginner’s mind, you are more likely to see the possibility of something before it comes to pass.

        1. Girish Mehta

          Thats a tough one. I am not clear in my head about this.Being prepared is a good idea and allows one to capitalize on opportunities that present themselves.Consciously putting oneself in the path of serendipity also helps.Where that intersects with timing…well, there is enough stuff which is non-random but outside your control + there is enough random stuff..to make that difficult to pin [email protected]:disqus

          1. cavepainting

            yes, you are correct. But the only thing founders can do is to be more aware, prepared, and be willing to constantly challenge assumptions. That will not ensure success but might stop them from making bad decisions and increase the probability of making right decisions.

    3. Matt A. Myers

      This ultimately leads to the collapse of retail store fronts who will no longer be able to afford to pay into the Landlord Rental Complex — which is one reason why, perhaps the main reason, that “items that are under $1000 in the US are normally 5 to 10 times cheaper in China, while items over $1000 are 2 to 5 times cheaper in China.”

      1. PhilipSugar

        No Matt, it is because people are willing to work for 50 times cheaper in China and there is no safety net. If you are a struggling Yoga instructor, you can eat dirt. They don’t give a shit.And no, you are wrong top end retailers and malls are doing just great. Better than before. If you are in the middle. So sorry. Nighty, night.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Ultimately leads to, and I should have clarified that it won’t be a complete collapse – people will still want to go out, move around, be social, see and try on clothing, touch and try products, etc.

  9. PhilipSugar

    I will give them a free tip (which is worth what they paid) They need to partner with mail forwarding services. I don’t know of any overseas, but I know of one here that has over a million customers. Basically what they do is this. You get your own address here in the U.S. that you can use as the shipping address (their warehouse)They then consolidate the packages by country and use excess airline capacity to ship the packages to your country cheap.Then the local mail service delivers.This is why if you fly a ton internationally like me you hear them jamming on freight before you takeoff the plane sensors on the struts determine the weight and balance they load it to the max. If you are willing to have your stuff go depending on capacity (standby) it is cheap

    1. sigmaalgebra

      I long wondered about that: If I buy, say, a polo shirt at L. L. Bean’s for, say, $40 that was sewn in, say, the Dominican Republic, I wonder what the shop in the Dominican Republic paid for it, why they might not just sell from a Web site, what they might charge, and how the shipping would be handled.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      Yes, to gain a competitive edge you’d need to do this, at least until we have a free worldwide transportation system implemented.

    3. Richard

      I’m in need to this service. Have the name of the company?

  10. sigmaalgebra

    Ah, USV goes into the “rag trade”!!! WOW!!! The USV investment scope is wider than I thought!!! :-)!!Good grief: Parts of Amazon, FedEx, PayPal, QVC, Etsy, Saks, some popular YouTube channels, the current slow death of US shopping malls, maybe even Neiman-Marcus!! Women having emotional experiences, bonding and trusting via international gossip and shopping!!!! Feelings of emotional security via shopping bonding!!! Connections with the R. Witherspoon movie Legally Blond: When in doubt or feeling bad, there’s only one thing to do — go shopping!!! Similarly for the movie Pretty Woman.Gee, the movie currently in the DVD device on my laptop computer, to watch, say, while eating lunch, is the original Marilyn Monroe Gentlemen Prefer Blonds where we see a great parody of the drive of some women to go for high end shopping and pay big bucks! While I like the movie, another good one from Howard Hawks, I don’t care about the part about the shopping! In that movie, Marilyn is one of the prettiest human females I ever saw; the girl I dated when I was 14 was still prettier; but watching Marilyn for lunch is still nice!It’s been a long time since US women were as fired up about shopping as in that Monroe movie, and since then there has been a huge role for blue denim, basically cloth, canvas, designed to be tough enough for the sails of sailing ships! But now the world has a grand example of high end shopping — Melania!!! What does that cost, $25,000 a week? More?There is a lesson for women that would sink ShopShops, but the women will never accept the lesson! The lesson is in the movie Gentlemen Prefer Blonds, right at the beginning: They were “two little girls from Little Rock”, “from the wrong side of the tracks”, “the gentlemen friends who came to call didn’t seem to mind at all”, “and men are the same everywhere”! Yup! Same lesson in the original Disney Cinderella, Pretty Woman, and no doubt lots of other movies. Bluntly, honey, pay attention to weight, hair, face, and smile and not much to Neiman-Marcus! Neat, clean cotton broadcloth can be fine to terrific, and even denim can work!Right, so far Amazon’s Web site has lots of product descriptions likeKingston Technology ValueRAM 8GB DDR3 1600MHz PC3 12800 ECC CL11 DIMM with TS Server Workstation Memory KVR16E11/8which would hardly excite the many women who made Les Wexner worth $6+ billion! Gee, the ECC memory I got is CL9!!!!Exploit wireless, smartphones, the Internet, internationally? It might work. I’d anticipate a lot of modifications, refinements, etc. on the way to success, i.e., as Bezos did going from books and records to the present. Maybe a key is the shopping situation in China, much of the rest of Asia, etc. where maybe there are lots of smartphones but poor opportunities for the coveted emotional experiences of SHOPPING!Likely at some point, the clothes will be fit digitally starting with ultra-sonic body scans!Since for some years I was married, I did Christmas clothes shopping for my wife. I usually went to Talbot’s, right, English experience! I learned a lesson: Clothes sizes don’t mean much. For international shopping, the situation has to be even worse.So, before I took my annual trip to Talbot’s, I got out some of my wife’s clothes that I’d noticed did fit, spread them flat on the bed, made a little outline drawing, and used a tape measure to get the important dimensions. Then at Talbot’s I did the same — measured candidate clothes and compared with my drawing. It worked great! A clerk at Talbot’s was alarmed and concerned until I explained to her that I was shopping for my wife, wanted the clothes to fit, and their store sizes didn’t mean much. Even my wife was surprised at my ability to get clothes that fit her. Gee, I just used a tape measure!!!! A tape measure — amazing technology! My wife was really good at sewing where, of course, she made a lot of use of a tape measure, but, still, it didn’t occur to her to use a tape measure at Talbot’s, Lord and Taylor, Saks, etc.So, a suggestion for ShopShops, Amazon, etc.: For clothes, have little outline drawings with dimensions in inches and millimeters. And have the drawings nice and large, the lines nicely BLACK, and the dimensions in LARGE fonts and nicely BLACK. Why? Long the rag trade has concluded that their biggest problem was fit; to get a good fit, have a good drawing; for the drawing, do that like an engineer would.Here’s another suggestion: Get real on colors. For the items, report the colors in 24 bit RGB (red, green, blue) under standard color lighting so that customers who want to be “color coordinated” can compare colors. E.g., she shops for shoes, a dress, a scarf, a sweater, and a purse. For each, she gets a nice, big square of the accurate RGB color taken under standard lighting. Then she gets to compare the squares! Right: On her computer, the squares might not look exactly like the originals, but if the squares don’t match on her monitor then likely the real items would not match. If the squares do match well on her monitor and she has a reasonably good monitor, then likely the originals will match well. So, get some lock in! If the goal is colors looking good together, then likely much the same.Another suggestion: Get real on laundry and replacing buttons.Bezos has made a lot of money revolutionizing retail — e.g., for my first server, he sold me the processor, main memory, two hard drives, lots of little wires and cables, and some months ago an OEM copy of Windows 7 64 bit Professional SP1 and a little Samsung CD/DVD drive. I got the motherboard from AVADirect in Cleveland, the case from Microcenter, and the power supply direct from Antec. None of that shopping was at all like what made Wexner worth $6+ billion!But, right, Bezos is not pleasing the Wexner customers the way Wexner did.So, ShopShops is based heavily on female emotions! Although I have a shot at understanding my emotions about females, I still have very little real understanding of female emotions, far too little for me being comfortable with that investment! But, it might work!Of course, some such international shopping might encounter international tariffs!

    1. SFG

      Clearly the whole shopShop thing is for chicks. My old man brain thinks the idea is utterly stupid.I hate anything retail, especially chick retail. But I hope the idea works out.

  11. LE

    This is a great idea. When I went on Facebook some time ago I noticed that in Vietnam there are many (primarily women) on FB live that are selling store items in what I think is the same manner. Small shop owners. I posted a grab below that I just did. One reason why it’s good to go to places and see what others are doing even if it doesn’t appear to have immediate value (keep up to date on trends)…. https://uploads.disquscdn.c

    1. Richard

      Macy’s is working on this as well

    2. PhilipSugar

      This is why the world is getting so small. You can buy stuff anywhere. I think eBay has a huge business doing this. I bought some Dewalt Batteries. They took a while to get here, shipped from Hong Kong. Were they they same batteries, without yellow. I took them apart. You know they were made on the same line at night.

  12. Richard

    my mom had qvc/hsc on 24/7 growing up, there are so many lesssons to learn from them I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I even pitched my first entrepreneurial product to them during my senior year in highschool, tanfastic, a telescoping handle sun tan lotion applicator. That said, this isn’t about great products, hard to find products, it’s about selling, selling, selling.

  13. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:So this is HSN/QVC/HSC 2.0 without saying it. But, but, but.Captain Obvious!#UnequivocallyUnapologeticallyIndependent

  14. Tom Hart

    HQ Trivia meets QVC – sounds like the future. Speaking of future, Fred have you read Tim O’Reilly’s “WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us” yet? Would love to see your thoughts on AVC

    1. Matt A. Myers

      I think if people all had more time, they’d prefer to go physically to a place to check out things they’ve spotted to demo or see in person. The age of planned obsolescence is going to come to an end much faster than we realize, it will become an unbeatable competitive edge – especially if combining quality with automation, tied with good-valuable service agreements/guarantees.Edit: To add, more time will come through universal basic income.

  15. Fred still got game!

    Bravo!This could easily compete against eBay and AliExpress and Amazon all of which have almost completely dropped the ball in this area. Like millions of other people I suppose, I have been waiting for something like this for over a decade.The idea is trivial but the execution is daunting. This reminds me of Airbnb. My hunch is that this reminded Fred if Airbnb too. I don’t think he’ll ever forget his blunder in not investing in Airbnb.I was wrong. Fred still got game!

  16. Arun Rao

    As an aside, went back and read the thesis on Twitter. The word used was “Twittering”. Seems so retro! 🙂

  17. Matt Zagaja

    I have come to learn that “working in the open” is actually harder than it sounds. After recent events with Facebook I decided to start posting to my blog more regularly, nearly every day now. Nobody reads it, but in many ways it is better. Instead of likes I just write for what I care to write about, and more often than not have fully baked a thought or processed something that I only partially understood. My daily pace on my personal blog is considered aggressive but I did start an initiative to get my team to each post a blog post a month.

  18. george

    Really love this new shop concept! I work quite closely with clients and investments focused on generating new retail experiences. At present, quite a bit of attention is focused on designing new customer experiences that strike the right balance between digital and physical; this looks promising. Congrats!