Special to California Business Journal.
eCommerce today is a solo sport — it’s boring, search driven and purely transactional, according to Tuli Technologies Founder and CEO David Wilmot and his Co-Founder Meysam Moradpour.
Shopping malls were once a social hub, a place where you could meet friends, eat food and explore new brands.
Well, Wilmot and Moradpour have created “a digital mall” where individuals can buy their favorite items — and experiences — directly from friends, celebrities and influencers that inspire them.
“We’re obsessed with building products that connect us. We built Tuli with this purpose and our passion for community, inclusivity, and human connection are imbedded in our company DNA,” Wilmot says. “In today’s challenging world, Tuli connects us in a different way bringing true community to eCommerce.”
With today’s pandemic, restaurants are one of the hardest hit industries. Tuli’s initial focus has been on supporting restaurants with a complimentary contactless digital menu and online ordering solution at an industry-low 10% commission — including credit card fees.
Soon, Tuli will be offering the service to retailers across North America. With over 600,000 food locations already pre-built, “we’ve made it easy for restaurants to sign up today,” Wilmot says.
For example, to search for a restaurant, go to Tuli and click “Claim & Sign Up.” Customer support then builds a profile and menu free of charge.
“Marketing in the food and retail industries is very inefficient,” Wilmot says. “We’ve reduced the costs by enabling restaurant managers to engage directly with customers and influencers on the same app. They have more time and money to concentrate on things that really matter like food quality, operations and people support. This ultimately leads to a better customer experience and repeat business.”
The state of social commerce is still in its infancy in the U.S. “We need to elevate the current eCommerce experience from a solo sport that’s heavily skewed towards promotions and discounts,” Moradpour says. “It’s really dull, boring and purely transactional and was never intended to be fun. That’s not how people actually shop in real life.
“Shoppers ask friends for recommendations, they browse, discover new brands, read reviews and validate with their social circles. Tuli takes all the fun parts of shopping and turns it into a digital platform. We connect thousands of shoppers, influencers, celebrities and merchants at a touch of a button.
When individuals shop at retail stores today, they seek advice from people they trust on the newest trends. Eighty-three percent of people say they trust recommendations from family, colleagues and friends about products and services, according to surveys. In addition, 71 percent are more likely to purchase based on social media referrals, surveys say.
“That’s what Tuli achieved with social shopping instead of today’s common ‘search, pay and leave’ model,” Wilmot says.
Instead of just making recommendations on social media posts, with Tuli, consumers can make money off their own ‘good taste.’ Tuli’s next update will enable anyone to become an Influencer and receive two-percent credit for future purchases from every sale they recommend.
“We don’t want to make the mistake where only a few big influencers make lots of money,” Moradpour says. “There are many people who say they have a lot of followers, but the real test is how many people will actually trust them enough with recommendations.”
Each post on Tuli includes an automatic shoppable product link, so users can see “real recommendations from real people,” Wilmot says.
If someone is inspired by one of the posts, they simply click on the link and purchase the product immediately.
In addition to Tuli’s social feed, individuals can browse inside eCommerce shops where they can discover and buy from new designers and unknown brands.
Tuli’s founding team is also working with medical researchers “to implement features,” Wilmot says, “that elevate the mental health of its users through inspiration, esteem and belonging.”