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Fashion Tech Startups Tackle Social Commerce, Interactive Video, Same-Day Delivery

The New York Fashion Tech Lab unveiled its latest cohort of women-led startups Thursday, and some of the standouts revealed creative new takes on today’s retail challenges.

Over the past couple years, chatbots have become a staple on brand websites, but often their functionality is limited to customer service concerns. uses chatbots to automate transactions on social and messaging sites where browsers often want to become buyers. With integrations across virtually all of the popular platforms from Facebook, Instagram and SMS to WhatsApp, Line and Viber, even works with blogs to capture and convert purchase intent. The interaction often begins with a comment on a social post or direct-message inquiry asking to learn more about product availability.

With a conversational tone and generous use of emojis, guides shoppers through the purchasing process, prompting fashion consumers to provide their shoe or clothing size or even pick from the kind of size chart they want to choose from (U.K. versus U.S., for example).

Co-founder Nyha Shree trotted out an eye-catching statistic to support the case for taking an automated approach to social commerce. Seventy-five percent of people message a brand or business when they want to make a purchase, she said, though the experience they encounter oftentimes is broken or anticlimactic. By contrast, delivers an 18x engagement boost and conversion rates around 80 percent.

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The platform has attracted more than 13,000 users since it launched in 2017.

The Call List

Interactive mobile video is a powerful tool helping brands reach their audience in a way that feels authentic and raises engagement. The Call List, a pre-seed startup, is the latest to throw its hat into a ring where emerging companies like Dote are seizing on Gen Z women’s interest in marrying mobile, social, video and shopping. Mobile livestream shopping, and variations on that theme, is perhaps one of the defining trends of 2019.

The Call List integrates into a brand’s website and gives brands a way to directly video call their audiences, whether it’s their entire customer base or a select VIP group. Brands can serve up a selection of products for viewers to shop during the video call, which is typically led by an influencer or other personality. As an interactive video tool for e-commerce, The Call List incorporates features that let viewers digitally “raise their hand” to join a queue to ask questions. A Mac cosmetics video call led by the brand’s director of makeup artistry Gregory Arlt kept an audience primarily composed of Mac Pro makeup artists engaged for 45 minutes during a red-carpet glam tutorial.

“People want to connect,” The Call List CEO Amanda Patterson said.

Beyond external customer-facing applications, The Call List can “empower employees with interactive training and leadership town halls,” she added. Gen Z and millennial employees already interact with friends via video, so incorporating this approach into the workplace could increase the effectiveness of efforts to dispense new knowledge to young staff.

If this most recent generation has been all about “sharing,” then the next one will center on “participating,” Patterson noted.


Amazon has changed the game around lightning-fast delivery, but startups like Shipsi are helping smaller retailers fight back. Today, as few as 15 percent and as many as half of retailers give shoppers the option to get their order delivered on the same day they purchase, and between 15 percent and 65 percent of shopping cart abandonment stems directly from customers not having the option to get what they want right away, according to Shipsi CEO Chelsie Lee. Though many retailers are afraid to charge customers steep fees for rapid fulfillment, 25 percent to 88 percent of consumers would pony up a premium to get their online purchases ASAP, she added.

The Shipsi platform aggregates last-mile delivery networks and local courier services so integrated retailers can give online shoppers options that typically run cheaper and faster than overnighting or express shipping a product from distant warehouses. Live in 600 cities with 1 million drivers ferrying packages from store (or warehouse or distribution center) to door, Shipsi puts a lot of work in behind the scenes to finetune the business rules so only the right, eligible products show up for e-commerce shoppers. For example, an online shopper won’t see the Shipsi delivery option if the product isn’t in stock in a location covered by the startup’s local fulfillment network. And by pulling the right levers, Shipsi makes sure products are matched with an appropriate delivery vehicle—oversized goods aren’t being loaded up with a bicycle courier, for example. Most orders are fulfilled in just a few hours, and many in less than 60 minutes.

The real benefit to retailers, Lee noted, is all the “juicy data” the platform affords. Retailers can use the reporting and insights to predict future demand and “back that up into the rest of your supply chain,” Lee shared. One customer, a gift company, achieved a 12 percent lift in conversion after three months using Shipsi, and 45 percent of its customers selected the same-day Shipsi delivery option when it was available.

To date, cart abandonment has dropped 21 percent across all retailers partnered with Shipsi and 40 percent of people who choose the Shipsi option once become repeat Shipsi users, Lee added.