Ecommerce sales within the US have ballooned from $33B in 2001 (1% of retail sales) to $861B in 2020 (21% of retail sales). And 2020 was an especially big year. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a widespread desire among many people to shop from home, resulting in 44% year-over-year growth in 2020.
As an operator at Google for many years (including serving as Managing Director of Emerging Businesses in Local & Commerce), and more recently as an investor at CapitalG, I have been fortunate to have a front row seat to the explosion in ecommerce adoption.
Remarkably, there’s still a lot of opportunity: despite 20+ years of 18% compounding annual growth, sales in certain categories — specifically high consideration goods and services — still remain largely offline.
While it’s possible today to find virtually any product online from an array of vendors from big box retailers to independent boutiques and local bodegas, there’s been remarkably little innovation in the buying experience.
Many websites provide an excellent online buying experience when consumers have a clear idea of what they want–simple purchases like household goods, office supplies, and standard electronics.
However, the online buying experience tends to be exceptionally poor for more complex purchases with many choices and features as with mountain bikes, skis, high-end grills, or baby furniture. In these categories, would-be-buyers are often left overwhelmed and unsure of where to find help. These consumers seek one simple thing: unbiased, personalized advice from bona fide subject matter experts.
Curated is a marketplace that connects consumers, experts, and brands to create an ecommerce experience that enables people to find the perfect product with the help of a free, unbiased subject-matter expert.
Whether they are camping enthusiasts in Texas, ski instructors in Montana, tennis pros in Kansas or thousands of others across the country, these experts make Curated’s shopping experience truly special.
Consumers benefit from a personal, one-of-a-kind buyer experience that helps them complete complex, high consideration online purchases with confidence. The strength of Curated’s value proposition comes through loud and clear in the outstanding customer reviews (4.96 stars on average) and almost unheard-of low return rates of 1–2%.
On Curated, consumers, experts, and brands all win.
Consumers win by finding exactly the right products with the most attentive and personalized service available anywhere online. Curated customers are so enthusiastic about the guidance they receive that 80%+ of them voluntarily tip their experts.
Experts win because they are afforded an incredible opportunity to monetize their passion and expertise in a flexible way. Experts rave about the Curated platform so enthusiastically that many recruit their friends to join, creating a viral growth flywheel that will serve Curated well as it continues to expand product categories and serve even more kinds of buyers..
Brands win by driving incremental sales while enhancing brand affinity and customer satisfaction, because customers get the right products at the right time in a discovery journey they love. Many blue chip brands including Callaway, Burton, and The North Face are scaling on Curated, and they are just getting started. We believe that Curated will be the place where the world’s most beloved brands will want to connect with new buyers.
In every investment, it is the team that matters most. This is where Curated shines especially brightly. The company was founded by a brilliant and visionary team of four LinkedIn alumni: Eddie Vivas (CEO), Peter Ombres (COO), Alex Vauthey (CTO), and Annabel Liu (VP of Engineering).
They have the discipline and grit to build a complex and enduring business. We are thrilled to be leading the Series C investment and to work with Eddie, Peter, Alex, Annabel and the rest of the Curated team.
We believe Curated will become one of the generation-defining ecommerce companies of our time, and look forward to partnering with them on their journey.
Special thanks to Derrick Chow for his contributions to this article.