We’ve all seen a product on social media that looks interesting, so you click the “shop now” button and are taken over to a new site. But wait, you weren’t finished on the social media site, and when you go back, everything has refreshed.
Ownit unveiled a checkout experience today, after testing with 10 companies, that gives direct-to-consumer brands a way to sell their products without that interruption. Its technology connects social, commerce and payment options at the point of discovery so consumers can buy in one tap via an “Ownit Connected Checkout link.”
From the link, consumers go to a web page interface on top of the app and can make purchase choices from their favorite commerce site, including Shopify and Amazon, and pay with Apple Pay, Google Pay, Shop Pay or PayPal — features not often available because some social media sites don’t often play well with certain payment options, Ownit co-founder and CEO Payman Nejati told TechCrunch.
Nejati started San Francisco-based Ownit less than a year ago with Evan Shiue and Joel Tan, and all three have vast experience in checkout. This is Nejati’s fifth startup, and most of his experience is in grocery checkout, while Shiue has a background in autonomous checkout at Standard Cognition and Walmart, and Tan in conversational checkout with Amazon’s Alexa.
The global pandemic was the driver for many people to start an e-commerce brand, and while many tools enable them to start easily, Nejati says the right tools haven’t been there to help those companies grow as easily. In addition, brands still deal with challenges, like cart abandonment rates of 75%.
Needless to say, they’ve thought a lot about what’s going on at the point of purchase, even going so far as to boast that customers will double sales conversion or pay nothing. They knew they were on to something as they saw checkout companies like Bolt, Checkout.com and Rapyd collectively raising over $3 billion investments in the past 18 months.
“We knew checkouts at the point of purchase will explode, but we wonder if the user was going to the storefront, and is the company investing in sending them there from another platform, like social media,” Nejati added. “At the same time, the new iOS was making those costs unbearable. So we thought, what if you don’t have to go there, but we could capture someone at the point of discovery — that was the lightbulb moment.”
Proving that checkout continues to be a hot area for investors, Ownit itself announced initial funding Monday, an $8 million seed round from Caffeinated Capital, SciFi VC, GGV Capital, Abstract Ventures and a group of angel investors that include founders and executives of companies including Meta, Pinterest, Honey, Product Hunt, Standard Cognition and Anycart.
Nejati explained Ownit is like the “Plaid of e-commerce;” what it is doing is a “heavy tech lift,” involving connecting people, merchants and payment options seamlessly. The ultimate goal being to become the merchant of record by going after capital to get everything squared away correctly from the beginning versus taking shortcuts that make it difficult to scale.
As such, the new capital will be deployed into what Shiue called “the three Cs”: conversion, which he considers “the North Star for its brands;” customer onboarding; and connections to deepen the three pillars of its tool suite of social, commerce and payment platform relationships.
The company has 11 employees currently and Shiue expects to be at 30 by the end of the year.
Among Ownit’s 10 early beta customers are consumer packaged goods companies, cosmetics and nutrition. Customers were encouraged to test sales through Shopify versus through Ownit, and Shiue said initial results have been positive, showing campaigns saw an average of two times the conversion lift via text marketing and three times conversion via email marketing.
Up next, Nejati and Shuie say they still have some catching up to do in the market as they work to build out this brand new space in checkout.