Two Shields Investments PLC (LON:TSI), the AIM quoted investment company with a strategy focused on building a portfolio of investments in to fast growing disruptive markets including technology metals, cyber security, e-commerce and technology enabled businesses, today provided an update to shareholders on its investee company WeShop Limited, following receipt of a shareholder update.
TSI owns 301,918 shares in WeShop representing approximately 6.7 per cent. of the issued share capital of WeShop.
A summary of the update from WeShop is set out below:
WeShop is pleased to update shareholders on the further progress that has been made since the last announcement in March 2019.
The last quarter has seen considerable momentum in finalising the product and proposition for user acquisition later this summer. Some significant commercial and product agreements, and integrations have also been completed that drive further competitive advantage versus other social commerce, social network and e-commerce platforms. These include:
1. Amazon license agreement to pay WeShop for user purchases facilitated by WeShop, and to enable Amazon inventory to be available on the WeShop platform.
2. Instagram integration license: functionality to enable WeShop users to import existing content from Instagram to post on WeShop.
3. Apple iTunes (Apple Services) partner agreement to pay WeShop for user purchases facilitated by WeShop, and to enable iTunes inventory of all music, video, books and other media to be available on the WeShop platform.
Additionally, WeShop has completed the implementation of powerful functionality that strengthens its user proposition through an enhanced product and merchant inventory:
- Increases WeShop retailer count from 3,000 to 9,000+
- Increases UK product count from circa 5m to up to 150m+, making WeShop the largest online retailer by product count
- Includes the Amazon product feed of c.80m products
- A global product feed of c.1.6bn products in 12 countries
- Global retailer count of over 20,000 merchants
- Estimated UK coverage of up to 80% of all online products
This huge depth and breadth of inventory gives consumers the fundamental choice of which merchant they buy a product from, and at what price point. This is a key milestone in delivering the best possible experience and proposition to our users. The commercial agreement with Apple Services ensures that users can share and recommend products and media across the full range of their interests and lifestyle, and not just fashion, like most social commerce platforms. WeShop will look to expand its product offering even further with hotel and travel inventory later this year.
Instagram and Social Commerce
There has been recent press about the strategic direction that Instagram is pursuing. WeShop is pleased to provide some commentary around what this means, and how this further strengthens our confidence in the direction that WeShop has always pursued, and continues to pursue, relentlessly.
Instagram has recently introduced its ‘Check-out’ functionality, that allows users to buy directly from a limited selection of 26 brands and circa 55 influencers, with the check-out taking place inapp. Whilst we are pleased with the growing awareness and conversation around Social Commerce that this is generating, it also serves to highlight the key differences, and we believe – competitive advantage – between WeShop and Instagram.
Instagram has enabled direct to consumer commerce, where brands can sell direct to customers through its social platform, as another distribution channel. WeShop’s mission continues to be about enabling anyone to recommend a product and make it shoppable, based on the key premise that a “word of mouth” recommendation from a friend is the most important form of influence on a consumer’s purchasing decision. Social commerce, at the most basic level, is based on brands selling through social channels, but in its powerful format, like the WeShop social commerce model, is based on authentic, shoppable user to user recommendations. WeShop digitalises “word of mouth” marketing, where everyone is an “influencer” in their own right, and we are excited about further validating this at scale later this year. The statistics are compelling, as people are 4x more likely to purchase a product that has been recommended by a friend (Nielson).
WeCoin™ ecosystem rewards programme
WeShop has launched phase 1 of its new rewards programme, designed to drive ongoing engagement and retention of users by enabling them to earn WeCoins™ for creation and distribution of quality content, shopping through WeShop verified merchants, and browsing. The WeCoins™ can be redeemed with over 100+ redemption partners, including Uber, Spotify, Just Eat, Amazon, Starbucks and many others. Phase 1 allows users to redeem their WeCoins™ for a digital voucher. Phase 2 will allow users to redeem their live WeCoin™ balance against products on WeShop, in combination with cash. This creates a true ecosystem where WeCoins™ are earned and redeemed within the platform. As part of our continuous drive to deliver users choice and an open platform, WeShop is also working on a potential offline tie up with a global payments service provider, to enable WeCoins™ to be loaded onto a physical or virtual WeShop card, that allows users to spend their WeCoins™, on anything they like offline or online. WeShop is fully aware of the benefits and opportunities that blockchain and crypto-currencies present, and some of the company’s major shareholders are firmly embedded within this area, supporting the business on exploring how the initial rewards eco-system can be globally rolled out.
There are clear and defined plans for mass user acquisition and engagement. Further updates will be provided over the following quarters.
James Sowerby, WeShop’s CEO, commented:
“Very significant progress has been made over the last quarter to ensure that the product and proposition are ready for user testing at scale over the Summer. We are very proud of how strong the product is now, and the competitive advantage we have developed versus other platforms which exist in this space. We continue to build a platform with our users, for our users. I genuinely believe that WeShop’s original vision, is more compelling, powerful and relevant today than it ever has been.
“I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of my co-directors, colleagues, partners and investors who have supported the business, with their belief in social commerce. As a result of all the support and hard work, we now find ourselves in a very unique position.”