In recent years, Amazon has ramped up its cloud services and expanded its third-party marketplace so that merchants across the globe can set up virtual stores on the company’s website, and sell products alongside Amazon’s.
This means that few have tried to actually compete with the retail giant. Flubit founder and CEO Bertie Stephens summed it up nicely: “Most marketplaces follow a traditional shopping model.” Essentially, Amazon is on par with Apple and Google when it comes to innovation, so in order to keep up, startups need to take risks and think outside the box.
Stephens suggested that for him it’s always been about “trying to do the ridiculous”. Flubit offers a bespoke discount on anything, at any time – and he loves the fact that it sounds almost impossible to pull off. But essentially, he’s always been interested in bringing ideas to life. He created a city-wide discount card in high school, published a magazine in university, and produced and raised funds for a 16th century period drama feature film during his final year.
Before setting up Flubit, he co-founded a video production media agency with two colleagues. But that came came to an end when he one day announced that he was leaving.
“Curveball, no one saw it coming, I don’t think even I saw it coming,” he said. “But it had to happen. It had to happen because I had developed on paper a concept. It was risky and garishly outlandish.”
He suggested that potential entrepreneurs needed to hop onto their ideas because they may never know what could have been achieved. The same goes for Flubit. “If someone replicated that idea, I’d always be the one saying ‘I thought of that’. Now, whatever the situation ends up to be, at the very least I can always be the one to say ‘I went for that’.”
This propensity to take a leap is what made Stephen tackle Amazon head-on in his own unique way.
On average, products are listed publicly for buyers to browse, click and buy. Flubit doesn’t do that. Instead, users paste the product weblinks from Amazon and other large retailers and Flubit creates a better, unique and private offer for that same item.
So not only has the company found a way to piggyback on the most successful ecommerce company of all, Flubit claims that over 60 per cent of its products can be sold to users for over eight per cent cheaper than the price you can find on Amazon.
Instead of competing with Amazon, Flubit wants to play it at its own game.
“Since day one we’ve been on a mission to shake up ecommerce,” said Stephens. “It’s not been easy but now we allow users to demand private offers on the product they want. Our algorithms tailor offers to individual customers to best suit their needs, which is reflected in our conversion rates.
“We have the power to divert the sale, at the moment of purchase, from the major marketplaces to a smaller independent online retailer who normally would have had no way of winning that order.”
Over the last few years, Flubit has opened up its technology and product inventory to give website owners instant access to millions of products across every category. They have access to 80 per cent of all products sold in the UK.
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And they are now trying to encourage more entrepreneurs to succeed in business via BeFlubit, which provides small business owners with access to over 20m discounted products that could be resold on the company’s website or app.
Gary Dalton, head of partnership for Flubit, believes this could be a game changer for ecommerce in the UK. “If you want to monetise your website or app, have a loyal online audience that would buy from you or you want to sell more products to your users at great prices then BeFlubit now gives you the chance to do just that,” he said. “We have thousands of UK suppliers, millions of products, and all of this opportunity can be accessed through one simple integration into your site.”
Moreover, a recent partnership with Barclays means that the bank’s 35m Barclaycard customers will be plugged into to Flubit’s platform and will be offered bespoke prices when shopping online.
BeFlubit would allow website owners to be in control of the products shown, as well as pricing.
“The products will be displayed natively on your site, users will buy from you but one of our merchants will deliver the goods to your customers, plus we can handle all the customer service too,” said Dalton. “If you want to sell fitness equipment on your workout app, go for it, if you want to sell computer games on your review site, we have 500,000 games for you – and all from one integration” continues Dalton.”
It’s not just UK website owners who will benefit either, Dalton suggested. UK merchants already integrated with Flubit will see orders increase exponentially. Once only available on the Flubit marketplace, products will be exposed to millions more UK customers.
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