Edgecase (formerly CompareMetrics) built a platform that has redesigned online shopping searches to make the experience more tactile, specific, responsive, and fun, focusing on one of the fundamental shortcomings of online shopping: that ordering online is a task rather than an opportunity to explore. This ease of use is the main flashpoint for the consumer retail market, polarized between online and in-store sales.
Every website has used basically the same navigation column (check and uncheck boxes based on specifications, e.g. “Dress” à “Size” à “Color: Black”). Edgecase breaks up the old categories by allowing shoppers to type in highly specific criteria: (“Machine washable”, “Knee-length”, “Martini dress”) that appear as tags that narrow down options into a single display. Recognized tags become more numerous through machine learning and human content curation. Clients report that the platform boasts a 150% higher conversion rate and 5x more products viewed per session.
Edgecase won a $4.1 million first round from some of Austin’s major players, including Austin Ventures (lead), Floodgate, Countour Venture, Allegro, Mack Capital, and independent investors. In May 2014 they raised a $3.8 mil series B from the same investors, this time including the Hurt family investments.
What you need to know
- Founded in 2012 by Garrett Eastham (Bazaarvoice alum), Mikael Solomon, and Stephen Goodwin (Indeed and Microsoft alum).
- Company size: 35 employees; not currently hiring.
- Officially launched their Adaptive Experience Platform August 2014.
Rebranded as Edgecase (from Compare Metrics) in September 2014. Company statement: “the name recognizes both the challenge and opportunity facing retailers to deliver better online experiences.”
- Launched the mobile platform, Visual Shopping, March 2015, touted as a “Pinterest-like shopping experience”.
- Hired Susanne Bowen (30 year tech veteran and former CEO of PeopleAdmin and Nellymoser) as the new CEO April 2015. She’s come on board to develop a broader strategic vision and scale the company. Former CEO/co-founder Garrett Eastham moves to Chief Product Officer.
- Company press release April 2015: Revenue and client base has doubled in the past year. Marquee clients include Crate and Barrel, Golfsmith, Kate Somerville, Rebecca Minkoff, Urban Decay (L’Oreal), and The Wasserstrom Company.
An online retailer platform has two types of competition: competing products and in-store retailing: the most interesting part of which is the galaxy of new companies looking to reinvent both spaces. Our in-person shopping rituals are rock-solid: McKinsey measured that in-store retailing will still account for 85% of the retailing market in 2025. Customers complain that buying online is restrictive, boring, and difficult to personalize. It’s hard to try on clothes you can’t touch, and rejected items are cumbersome to return.
Currently Edgecase doesn’t have any fast followers, but ultimately the real competition will orbit around which TYPE of retailers—online or in-store—will lead to a sale. Shoppers come with increasingly high expectations for variety, personalization, and “delight value”. Edgecase is competitive online with user-friendly search tags: “casual”, “horizontal stripes”, “knee-length”, etc, that let customers flip through vast options even more easily than sifting through the limited racks at a store. Not to mention that there’s also a third breed of shopping experience, a hybrid of the two methods: Bonobos runs “guide shops” where men can go to physical storefronts to touch and try on the clothes and accessories, but they make the purchases online. Warby Parker has also deployed chic stores to complement its online selections.
Edgecase’s competitive triumph will ultimately depend on how brick and mortar stores adapt to changing consumer preferences, the technology they adopt to execute it, and how well that technology integrates. Big data analytics companies in the retail market will play a huge role, from the dominant incumbent RichRelevance and WGSN's debuted Instock to almost exactly similar consumer preference platforms like Editd. As well as utilizing these metric companies, retailers are also adding more perks to their brick and mortar stores to attract foot traffic: the Urban Outfitters’ NY flagship offers a hair salon, coffee shop, and an “Instagram photo-printing booth” along with its vaguely offensive Navajo-chic rompers. There's lots of interesting stuff in the works as retailers now prioritize detecting new customer preferences and habits instantaneously, and helping them complete a sale more comfortably. We'll see in the coming years if the youngest, pickiest, and most technologically intelligent generation will buy it.
Comparables: Big Data analytics
The name of the game in wider retail big data analytics is "omni-channeling": creating a seamless customer experience across desktop, mobile device, telephone, and brick and mortar. Companies refine sales opportunities through both B2B and B2C retail personalization.
The biggest retail analytics companies (RichRelevance being the highly dominant player) are poised to enter the consumer side of preference analytics. While smaller companies already in that space (Edgecase, Editd, RotaryView) are unmistakably growing, the incumbent challenge is clear.