"E-commerce is broken," says Carl Waldekranz, CEO of Tictail, a Stockholm-based startup launching their public beta today. And after listening to him and seeing the Tictail vision, it's hard not to believe him. Tictail is free, innovative, and aims to become the easiest platform to get your webshop up and running.
Sure there are solutions like Ebay and Etsy that make it easy to get your products online, but if someone is shopping for "shoes" on these sites, you see your products next to your competitors, and they offer almost nothing for branding. And sites like Shopify can get your webstore online, but they cost money, and they really don't make it easier to sell things.
Tictail is pushing to become "The Tumblr of e-commerce," a high goal, but an adequate metaphor to the type of system they're trying to create. Waldekranz points out that only a few years ago, if you wanted to get into blogging you had to use complicated systems like Moveable Type or later Wordpress to get your blog going. The early CMS systems made it easier than manually updating code yourself, but it was still intimidating and not really accessible to non-tech people.
Then Tumbler came out, which made it not only easier to start a blog, but easier to just get blogging. This is Tictail's vision. Not to make it easier to set up a shop, but to make it easier to do all the tasks behind the marketing and moving of your products.
Antti Vilpponen and I got a first-hand look at their product in Stockholm for our ArcticEvening event about a month ago. Waldekranz has picked us up from the airport in his typically Swedish Volvo so he could show off their offices in Södermalm and go through their product in person. By accidentally talking the scenic route through the industrial areas around Stockholm, we had plenty of time to get into his and his and his co-founders' backgrounds.
Two of the founders, Waldekranz and Kaj Drobin have been working together for some time between a couple projects. Most notably, after seeing an early demo of Spotify they were able to talk their way into doing the branding for Spotify and later for traded doing the branding of Wrapp for office space. You know those offbeat Spotify line drawings? And that yellow "W" gift box Wrapp logo? They were behind that.
After arriving at their office, a long and narrow brick building previously owned by an electrical utility, we also met up with the engineering talent of the founding team: Birk Nilson, previously from Stardoll, and Siavash Ghorbani, out of Blocket.se, as well as the rest of the team.
Getting retail done
We sat down and Waldekranz shows us perhaps their biggest innovation to the e-commerce model, their content management system of sorts, which came somewhat by accident. Co-founder Kaj Drobin was really into the Getting Things Done philosophies, and had the idea of breaking down the store setup tasks in a to-do list wizard to get your shop up and running.
Seeing the tasks get checked off with new ones appearing, they then realized it would be cool if the tasks would just keep continuing. This led them to ask the question: how intelligent could a system like this become?
Now when you login to manage your Tictail store, you don't see a huge page of toggles and switches (like any typical backend). You instead see a simple to-do list of orders you need to process, as well as lead you to other marketing and management tasks to check off.
The system goes well beyond adding items to sell or ship. It may see you haven't tweeted from your store Twitter account in three days, so it will suggest for you to do so. Or when you update new products on your Tictail store, it will notice it and suggest you post about those products on your store's Facebook account. Or it will also suggest the adwords that would work well for your store. Other tasks are more informal, such as a weekly poll.
There are well designed store templates to choose from, but the HTML and CSS code are accessible and well documented to make it easy to change things around.
Visiting the homepage you can see a couple shops that are already online, but perhaps most interesting to the ArcticStartup audience is TheStartupStore (run by Tictail) where you can buy stickers from Stockholm startups like Spotify, Wrapp, Tripbirds, Guidpal, and many others.
For more on Tictail, listen to our Unfair Advantage interview with Carl Waldenkranz.