Mobile Commerce

$11M Helps Shopa Social Marketplace Go Global

Social marketplace app Shopa has closed an $11 million funding round -- one of the biggest Series A rounds ever for a U.K.-based startup, according to TechCrunch.

The fresh funding comes from Notion Capital and Octopus Investments, who both previously invested in Shopa's $1.4 million seed round in June 2013. Anil Hansjee, Charles Grimsdale and Rod Banner were the angel investors behind the company when it launched in 2012.

The new money will be put into expanding the startup's platform from its current U.K. and U.S. locales into China and India.

As with similar social marketplaces such as Shopcade, Nuji and Favr.tt, Shopa users create a personal profile and then fill their product feed with their favorite apparel items and brands. They can then make purchases directly on the Shopa marketplace, and get discount rewards whenever a friend purchases a product that the user has recommended. (Shopa also currently supports affiliate marketing, but it's in the process of moving away from that model, according to a website FAQ.)

For the retailers whose items are sold on the marketplace, the most obvious attraction is the actual sales. Shopa also collects detailed data on shopper and "sharer" behavior for each brand, and that's made available to retailers as well. About a third of Shopa's total 2016 revenue is expected to come from selling that customer-behavior data to retailers, Shopa CEO Peter Janes told TechCrunch.

That kind of data is likely to be especially valuable with Shopa's expansion into China and India, where U.K. and U.S. retailers face an unfamiliar and crowded market, with local online marketplaces such as Alibaba and Flipkart as well as international giants like Amazon and Facebook. But it may be worth the trouble: Total social commerce sales reached $3.3 billion in 2014, up 26 percent from $2.62 billion in 2013, according to an Internet Retailer survey -- and retailers saw an average growth in total site traffic of 5.4 percent from social.

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