Co-founded by the “Lebron James” of the e-commerce industry, Marc Lorethe former head of e-commerce for walmart and founder of Diapers.comand Jet.com, Wizard is an AI-powered commerce platform slated to launch in early 2022. The Wizard platform allows shoppers to text brands to have a conversation about products before buying the item by interacting with a brand-specific phone number. Consumers simply text the brand’s number and are connected to an AI or human representative, who can answer any questions they may have about the product. At the end of the chat, the user will receive a link to a secure website to submit payment details to place their order. The platform provides brands with the convenience of having artificial intelligence to drive positive customer service experiences and generates a more natural way for consumers to access and interact with virtual brand representatives.
Wizard’s other co-founder, who will serve as CEO and run the company while Marc chairs the board, is a tech entrepreneur Melissa Bridgeford. Previously, Bridgeford founded the shopping platform Stylus, a similar text-based commercial offering that served as a shopping assistant for consumers and leveraged artificial intelligence and image recognition solutions to provide consumers with product options to choose from, while offering B2B capability. Wizard acquired Stylust, although at the time of the acquisition Wizard did not have a product on the market, and the majority of the Wizard team is made up of former Stylust employees.
Text-based commerce is growing in popularity in Asia, and the Wizard team believes the time is right for US shoppers to try the mobile-based shopping approach, as the majority of consumers already live in a mobile-centric world. Popular apps like Uber, Lyft, postmates, and other commerce platforms were designed for the mobile phone, while e-commerce has traditionally been designed for a desktop and browser-based experience. By creating a more organic technology for the mobile experience, using the kind of text-based conversations shoppers are already used to having with their friends, Wizard hopes to take advantage of that white space.
Recently Resurrected Wizard $50 million in fundingbringing the company’s total war chest to over $100 million and position it strongly to corner what company executives view as a valuable and overlooked total addressable market.
This article originally appeared in the PSFK iQ report, Selling to Buyers Beyond the Online Store.