Believe it or not, Swedish home-furnishings giant IKEA never offered a gift registry until a successful test of Israeli gifting platform Jifiti in its Portland, Oregon, store in 2014 convinced the multinational retailer to start rolling it out to additional branches at the end of this year.
“We specialize in gifting solutions for retailers and brands because we noticed, and retailers notice too, that gifting and shopping are different experiences. It’s easy to buy an item for yourself but not for someone else,” says cofounder and chief marketing officer Shaul Weisband, speaking with ISRAEL21c from Columbus, Ohio, where the company has a six-member marketing and bus dev team complementing the R&D and operations staff of 21 in Modi’in, Israel.
When Weisband and his business partners Yaacov Martin and Meir Dudai established Jifiti in 2011, they intended to develop a technology to group stores onto a single online gift registry, but quickly realized a bigger opportunity in the gifting space.
An estimated 90 percent of potential gift purchasers fail to complete online checkout because the retailer doesn’t offer a gift registry or the ecommerce site is not optimized for gift-giving, says Weisband. In addition, around 35 percent of traditional gifts are returned. All of this adds up to billions in lost revenue.
So Jifiti devised three products to fit customer needs. “Each solution has at least one major brand using it, and now we’re positioned to become a leader in the gifting solutions space,” says Weisband.
The first solution is a dedicated ecommerce platform that’s attracted clients such as Sears. Online shoppers can use this feature to choose an item they want to send as a gift, but instead of sending the actual item an e-gift card is generated linked to that item. The advantage is that the giver doesn’t need to know the recipient’s mailing address or preferred size, style or color. The gift goes out only after the recipient opens the card, chooses product details and adds a shipping address.
“We wanted to combine the flexibility of a gift card with the personalized thoughtfulness of an actual gift. It’s rethinking gift cards as a way to redeem a gift you want to send, not as a gift itself,” says Weisband, noting that market research shows people prefer sending an actual gift.
The second solution is a widget that adds a partner-driven gift market to non-commerce websites including Liberty Media subsidiary Evite. For example, when you receive an Evite to a child’s party you can also click a Jifiti-powered button on the invitation to buy a gift from Toys R Us or other leading retailers.
“We wanted to combine the flexibility of a gift card with the personalized thoughtfulness of an actual gift.”
“Our gift market is a great example how a site like Evite went from zero commerce to selling millions of dollars of gifts in a single year – all with zero integration,” says Weisband.
The third solution is a plug-and-play gift registry platform like the one IKEA is using. Although the annual US wedding gift registry market is worth $20 billion a year and the baby gift registry market is estimated at $15 billion a year, 70 percent of this lucrative pie is gobbled up by only three retailers because online gift registries are difficult to build and maintain. Jifiti created a way to make it easy.
“With our platform, any retailer can jump into the gift registry market with the Bed Bath & Beyonds of the world. We allow retailers to convert their shoppers into gifters, which they’ve been missing out on,” Weisband tells ISRAEL21c.
Clients may choose between a monthly licensing fee and a per-gift commission.
More personal than a gift card
Jifiti not only has heavyweight clients signed on – including DreamWorks, Kmart and Mastercard – but also key industry investors including the Schottenstein Store Corporation of Columbus (owner of myriad stores and brands including American Eagle Outfitters, DSW and Value City Furniture); Jesselson Investments; the Simon Property Group in Indianapolis (America’s largest mall owner); and Stephen Milstein, a founder of the Burlington Coat Factory chain.
Recently Jifiti announced a $3.3 million Series A infusion led by Liberty Media’s Israel Venture Fund, bringing its total investment to $7.1 million.
Weisband and CEO Martin have relocated to Columbus, while CTO Dudai heads the Modi’in headquarters.
The three cofounders, each 36 years old, knew that clients and partners would adopt their products only if they are a snap to use. Ironically, the simpler the user interface, the more difficult the technology is to build.
“Our challenge is always to find creative ways to build solutions that need zero integration; the same way you put in a Facebook ‘Like’ button, you can put in a Jifiti gift button. It’s our team in Israel that does this magic,” says Weisband.
Jifiti faces competition from startups including eGifter and Loop Commerce, but Weisband claims no competitor can match Jifiti’s range of solutions or its zero-integration ease of use.
“We have retailers and sites from all over the world reaching out to us,” he told Geektime.
Weisband adds that Jifiti’s clients and partners receive their own special gift: access to a wealth of unique generated data on gifting, such as what items are being sent as gifts, at what price points, by whom and to whom.
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