WhatNot, a Los Angeles-based livestream shopping platform, announced raising $260 million in their Series D round. The company’s valuation has doubled to $3.7 billion, up from $1.5 billion when it secured $150 million last year. The round saw participation from DST Global and CapitalG. Other participants included Bond, Andreessen Horowitz and YC Continuity.
As per the statement made by the company, the funds will be deployed in product development and recruiting talent for the engineering, design, sales, and marketing departments.
“It’s been incredible to see how our app cultivates connections between people with shared hobbies, keeping them tuned in to our entertaining live streams even if they aren’t buying and providing a hub for anyone to browse and discover new interests. Building on this momentum, we have our sights set on expanding into more categories and creating new experiences for people with all types of passions and hobbies.”Grant LaFontaine, Founder and CEO,WhatNot
Creating opportunity for the new-age shoppers
Founded by Grant LaFontaine and Logan Head in 2019, Whatnot is a live streaming shopping platform where collectors can purchase and sell items such as rare Pokémon cards and Funko Pops. Verified sellers can go live anytime and host video auctions for their products. There are times when purchasers are entirely aware of what they are getting. But sometimes, it is a mystery for the buyers as they are unaware of what they might get. In that case, they might buy parts of an unopened box or cards, and the contents are revealed live.
Whatnot began as a conventional resale platform, initially specialising in authenticating only Funko Pops. As the pandemic took hold, the company realised the need to catch up with the trend by investing in live shopping and expanding its operations.
The company adopted the trending “card break” strategy, in which users purchase unopened boxes of Pokémon or sports cards and others tune in to watch them reveal the contents live. This trend has given rise to additional collectables, such as sneakers, trading cards, sports memorabilia, and rare toys. In addition to raising three rounds of capital in 2021, Whatnot’s year-over-year sales increased by more than 20 times, with monthly sales more than tripling so far in 2022, as reported by the company.
The emergence of Livestream shopping
Livestream shopping (or Livestream e-commerce) entails live video content and linear communication between buyer and seller. It enables viewers to buy or save featured products directly from the platform effortlessly and conveniently. A Livestream shopping platform enhances the shopping experience for the customers by providing an interactive space where they can raise questions from the sellers before purchasing the product. On the other hand, Livestream shopping enables retailers to develop deeper connectivity with customers due to the ease and proximity of the interactions, which facilitates increased revenues.
The trend for livestream shopping started in Asia (China) in 2017 and later spread globally, particularly in America.
As per the statement by Alibaba, China’s leading online retailing company, the sales from its live-streaming commerce business during the Single’s Day Shopping Festival in November 2019 reached around $3 million. China’s live streaming consumer base had reached 526 million by 2020 with neck-to-neck competition among social media influencers and live-streaming e-commerce companies.
Livestream shopping is a bridge between entertainment and online shopping, being the major reason behind its growing popularity. Moreover, the trend has a lot of potential to become the new norm for e-commerce on a global level.