When is shopping a sport? When it's all about trading, swapping, lucky finds, and more--explains Dan Murillo, who is CEO and Founder of Little Black Bag (www.littleblackbag.com), an online e-commerce community based in Los Angeles. Little Black Bag is centered around serendipity, luck, and fashion--letting users not only get fashion items they like, but allows them to gain a "mystery bag" of fashion items, which they can trade and exchange with others. We caught up with Dan to hear about how the firm is going beyond online sales, and making shopping online for fashion as much entertainment as e-commerce.
Fascinating idea for a company. Can you talk about what Little Black Bag is and the origins of the company?
Dan Murillo: Little Black Back is what we call an entertainment shopping company. We think there is a new category of the e-commerce and shopping sector, the entertainment sector. It's loosely based on the Japanese concept of a "lucky bag sale". We allow customers to buy mystery bags of fashion items, and trade them. Lucky bag sales were originally a physical store concept, and what we've done, is taken that online here in the U.S. Nobody has done this online, either in the Asia or anywhere else in the world.
What inspired you to create the company?
Dan Murillo: Before starting this company, I was at Greycroft for a few years. We had been looking at the social commerce category, broadly speaking, and I thought that here was an interesting opportunity to fuse together entertainment, gaming, shopping, and social networking online, and that this concept accomplished that incredibly.
Who has been signing upf or the service, and why?
Dan Murillo: Our typical customer is an 18-35 year old female, who spends a lot of time shopping online, and spends a lot of time on social networks like Facebook and Pinterest. She has a mobile phone, likes playing social games online, games such as Farmville and the Sims. The way she comes on the site to shop and play, is she takes a style quiz, picks the first item in her little black bag, and we give her two to four additional items based on the style profile, with those two to four being mystery items. She can purchase this on a monthly membership basis or a la carte, and then after purchasing she can enter the site, and trade those items with the community. That's the unique aspect of the site that makes so engaging, the trading of items post-purchase.
How does that trading work?
Dan Murillo: The trading feels very much like a game. Very simply, you find a product you like, and offer a product you own. That offer gets sent out via email to everyone on the site with the target item, and says, for example, Jenny is offering a handbag for your scarf, ten other customers have also received the offer, act right away. It's an adrenaline inducing call to action. Our customers are constantly logging into site and trading offers, making offers, and seeing if those offers were accepted. It gets quite strategic. Customers often ask friends on the site for input on what items are trading, if they're going for over retail, or under retail, and what items are not trading well. They're constantly communicating both on-site and off-shite, through private Facebook groups, discussion boards, and stuff like that. We like to describe it as a fantasy sport for women, because it has some of the same dynamics, that the same kinds of conversations, strategy, and planning. It's fantasy sports for shopping.
Now that you've been running for a year, what have you learned?
Dan Murillo: The most surprising thing we've seen, is really the power of the community that is formed on the site.. Our customers are talking to each other all the time, they have formed friendships, and they'll sometimes sell products to each other after buying on Little Black Bag. They tell their friends about the site. It's amazing to see how you can enable and experience a real community with the communications that happens online, and that lots of really amazing things can happen. Most of the growth of the site has been organic, and folks telling their friends about the site, and starting new friendships as they become part of the community.
What do you have planned next?
Dan Murillo: We just hired a new VP of marketing, Jefff Biesman, who was VP of Marketing at ShoeDazzle. We just raised a Series B in the fall, and are just starting to deploy that capital from a marketing perspective. We're doing more advertising, more promotions, and really getting out there, now that we feel the experience is compelling.
Thanks, and good luck!