ATLANTA — Retailers seeking to enhance their in-store shopping experience while seizing on the enormous benefits available in the expanding digital universe might want to look to Eric Sheinkop, a tech innovator who just might have found the link between e-commerce and brick and mortar.
Sheinkop, who in his previous creation, Music Dealers, a global music tech company that connects bands and brands, built a global community of some 20,000 independent artists, giving them a new route to gain exposure, funding and distribution through placements in TV commercials, shows, movies, gaming and live appearances. By the time Sheinkop left Music Dealers in 2015 he led its growth to more than 600 brand clients with $35 million in revenue earning the company recognition as one of Inc. Magazine’s “Fastest Growing Private Companies in America.”
Now, in his latest endeavor, The Desire Company, Sheinkop, the company’s CEO, has developed a digital platform that produces product reviews and recommendations from experts such as professional athletes, high-level trainers and celebrity beauty specialists.
Essentially, what this disruptive tech-based solution accomplishes, is it brings the best of both worlds — the traditional in-store experience and the digital one — to the fingertips, literally, of the shopper.
Though sophisticated in concept, the way the platform works is simple. While in store a shopper considering a purchase is able to scan the QR (quick response) code to pull up not only expert reviews of that product but instructional videos as well — or, as Sheinkop describes them, “bite-size” Masterclasses. Doing so allows the shopper to read the review and/or watch the video while actually touching and feeling the product; hence, the best of both worlds.
The experts review and discussing the products via the platform are not social media influencers who may or may not truly be experts, but rather “trusted” voices that can speak directly to the shopper. For example, a shopper looking for a beauty item might pull up a video in which a make-up artist for Rihanna or Pink provides instruction on how to apply the product or what type of skin it targets.
Or, another shopper looking to buy a foam roller can listen to an NFL player to describe how that particular roller helps him recover — or how a certain protein powder helps him perform at his best. These professional athletes review a variety of products, such as grooming items and moisturizers, and because of their training regimens, which means a lot of sweat and showers, gives them credibility many other reviewers might not have.
NFL players, Sheinkop notes, have also been essential to The Desire Company’s growth as word of mouth from teammates has helped Sheinkop recruit experts for the videos.
“One player has a great experience, then that player recommends us to a bunch of other players on their team. And then those players get traded all over the place,” Sheinkop says, “so they recommend it to other players on their new team. And so that’s how we’ve ended up working with NFL players on 12 different teams at this point, from starting with just one player.”
By offering these expert reviews and videos to shoppers at the point of purchase, Sheinkop says brands are better able to help those shoppers make the most informed purchasing decisions possible, which underscores one of the best attributes of the platform for retailers — cutting down on returns.
“We know that along with strongly increasing conversions we believe that, over time, it will prove to lessen returns,” he says, adding that returns are one of the biggest costs retailer incur.
In 2020, returns topped $550 billion, he says, with much of those returns coming from e-commerce purchases, and the main reason for those returns being that the product didn’t function or work as the purchaser had expected it to.
“So having people become more informed about the purchases that they’re making is going to lessen those returns,” Sheinkop adds.
Initially called the DesireList, which only listed product reviews, Sheinkop changed the name to Desire Company in December 2020 when he broadened his model to include instructional videos.
“We learned a lot during the pandemic,” he says, noting that with so many people stuck at home with nothing to do he started tapping into his network of experts to stream lessons from home — everything from yoga and Pilates, to cooking and mixology to at-home facials. “So we decided to start offering these new tools for retailers and brands.”
The Desire Company has already partnered with more than 400 retailers, including Amazon and Target, and Sheinkop says there’s more to come and believes the model he’s created will only become more relevant, even after the pandemic is a thing of the past.
“There’s more information available to shoppers and they are going to want to have that information,” he says. “And having it available to them is a really nice experience for the consumer.”
For more information please visit https://thedesirecompany.com