Co-founded by the “Lebron James” of the e-commerce industry, Marc Lore, the former head of e-commerce for Walmart and founder of Diapers.com, and Jet.com, Wizard is an artificial intelligence powered text-based commerce platform that expects to launch in early 2022. The Wizard platform lets shoppers text brands to have a conversation about products before purchasing 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 product questions they might have. At the end of the conversation, the user will receive a link to a secure website to submit payment details to place their order. The platform provides brands the convenience of having artificial intelligence foster positive customer service experiences and generates a more natural way for consumers to access and interact with the brand’s virtual representatives.
Wizard’s other co-founder, who will serve as CEO and run the company while Marc chairs the board, is tech entrepreneur Melissa Bridgeford. Previously, Bridgeford founded the shopping platform Stylust, a similarly text-based commerce offering that served as a shopping assistant for consumers and took advantage of AI and image recognition solutions to provide consumers with product options to choose from, as well as offered a B2B capability. Wizard acquired Stylust, although at the time of acquisition Wizard did not have a product in the market, and the majority of the Wizard team is composed of prior Stylust employees.
Text-based commerce is increasingly popular in Asia, and the Wizard team believes the time is right for American shoppers to try the mobile-based approach to shopping, as the majority of consumers already live in a mobile-first 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 technology that is more organic to the mobile experience, using the kind of text conversations shoppers are already used to having with their friends, Wizard hopes to take advantage of this white space.
Wizard recently raised $50 million in funding, bringing the company’s total war chest to over $100 million and strongly positioning it to corner what the company’s executives see as a valuable and overlooked total addressable market.
This article originally appeared in the PSFK iQ report, Multi-Platform eCommerce Strategy.