In preparation for the release of our upcoming Future Of Retail report, PSFK reached out and spoke to Yazid Aksas of Sharpmen- an E-retailer that has built an online shopping channel that features narrative-based YouTube videos around the products it curates as a way to capture the attention of its male-only audience. SharpmenTV showcases one-to-two-minute videos featuring information about the products across a wide swath of categories, including fashion, art and food. In the near future, Sharpmen plans to display personalized landing pages for each consumer based on the preferences he stated in his profile after signing up. For example, a wine lover will see videos reflecting their interests, while an outdoor enthusiast may enjoy features based on those expressed preferences. All information is presented through videos and through using both flash sales and “pop-up shops” formats, Sharpman offers additional product information to aid in connecting shoppers with the products they purchase. We spoke to Yazid Askas, to get his thoughts.
Tell us a little about Sharpmen. How does the service work? Can you tell us about SharpmenTV and share a little about the idea driving the concept?
Sharpmen is the first online shopping channel for men. We present brands and products through videos and you can buy what you are watching. The concept came from my own frustration: while I was browsing TV channels I kept on landing on those shopping channels that had nothing to offer to a guy like me. Then I realized this was a great opportunity to create something fully dedicated to men’s lifestyle and that would cover everything they need in their busy lives, from fashion to wine. Since men statistically traffic Youtube frequently, we are focusing all our marketing on it via SharpmenTV, our Youtube channel, which act as a source of traffic and enables people to discover what we are offering. I really think Youtube is the next big thing in eCommerce.
Are there any notable figures or statistics around customer engagement and usage?
We launched a week ago and we already have 6,000 views and 1500 Youtube subscribers without anybody knowing we even exist. So it’s kind of shocking for us. It just tells us that men respond really well to Youtube as a way to discover cool products.
We have noticed that curated shopping experiences are being built which take into consideration your likes and those of your friends. These services often help simplify the process of shopping online by building a user-centric experience centered on expressed preferences or those of likeminded individuals, often aiding in the discovery of new products. Do you see this trend manifesting on a wider scale? How so?
I think you can only see more of it in the future and the reason is simple: there is just so much out there, so many brands, so many products, it’s overwhelming, and next thing you know you end up spending 2 hours finding a tie, while if I present you 5 styles that I believe make sense for you, you will act right away and convert more easily. We are moving from a wide inventory play for big retailers, to a personalization play where less is better. The wide usage of Facebook Connect is probably going to help a lot to scale that seamlessly.
Can you tell us a little about the decision to display personalized home pages for each consumer based on the preferences profile he fills out when signing up? Why is this level of personalization important?
I think it’s very important to personalize your offering in order to save time to our customers. There is only one thing you can not buy in this world, it’s time and people are very sensitive to that. So personalization is key: We want your experience to be different from that of your neighbor because you are different from him. Your style might be very casual and you may like the outdoors a lot, while the next guy is the opposite. We should show you first what you care about. It’s good for you, and it’s good for us because you will convert better.
What are the opportunities for retailers partnering with Sharpmen?
We are very excited by the wide range of partnerships we can set up for Sharpmen. Whether that’s with cool brands that make sense for our audience, and we’ve signed 150 of those so far, media properties that want to push their eCommerce revenues or retailers who want to add a curated video commerce component to their offering.
Check out an example of one of Sharpmen’s YouTube videos below.