Punchbowl, a website known for its party planning and digital greeting cards service, is adding a whole new faction to its business model, it was announced Tuesday.
The company is debuting its new Shopping Aisle feature, the brand new e-commerce arm of Punchbowl. Shopping Aisle will not only allow people to plan their parties, but will offer them suggestions on what they may need, as well as allow customer to buy these supplies directly from the website.
In an interview with VatorNews, Punchbowl CEO Matt Douglas called having the ability to recognize and present customers with items they may need the “holy grail for commerce.”
To explain what the new website does, Douglas compared it to a website like Kayak. Yes, people go to the site to purchase airline tickets, but they are then shown the other things they will most likely need when going on vacation: nearby hotels, restaurants, even sporting events.
Shopping Aisle works much in the same way.
Let’s say that a seven-year-old girl is having a birthday party. When the event is created, the website will then show them items that are related to the gender, age, date, location, even the theme of the party. Items will appear that would fit the description of that party, such as candles that are for a seventh birthday. If, for example, if the theme for the party is ponies, the site will also show related items with that design on it, including birthday hats and balloons.
There are over 1,000 party themes available, from birthdays, to Halloween and Christmas, as well over 6,000 costumes available for purchase for adults, children and pets.
Shopping Aisle is the latest phase of development for Punchbowl. What started out as a party planning website, and then increased its user engagement with digital greeting cards, has now gone into a third phase with its first e-commerce product; what Douglas calls “deductive commerce.” This involves the user doing something based on something data driven and "is a great example of modern eCommerce on the web."
By adding an e-commerce arm, Punchbowl is creating a new source of revenue for itself. Previously, the site used sponsorships, advertising and a premium service. With this new way to bring in money, Douglas expects to see big growth in the coming year.
What sets Punchbowl’s service apart from other similar websites, says Douglas, is that other sites can offer products but they don’t know anything about party planning. Since the company has years of experience in the area, they will know better what the right products are to offer, and will make it easier for customers to find the things they need.
“Our core business is strong,” Douglas said, calling the e-commerce section an augmented business on top of the existing product.
“We want to be the one stop solution for celebrations.”
Shopping Aisle will be available on web, iOS and Android. Punchbowl is highlighting the iPhone and iPad apps, as 60-70% of the mobile traffic on the website comes from the iOS platform.
Framingham, Massachusetts-based Punchbowl, which was founded in 2005 by Douglas and Sean Conta, has seen traffic triple in the last year, and at least double every year since it was founded.
The company has raised three rounds of fundraising, most recently raising $1.25 million in December 2011, bringing its total to $4 million. It is backed by Contour Venture Partners and Intel Capital.
(Image source: http://www.punchbowl.com/)