Online shopping has become a way of life for today’s consumers who expect crisp images and good product descriptions to pop up with a single click. However, not all online shops deliver on these basic merchandising requirements and poorly displayed information can put potential buyers off.
Compounding the problem is that collating content is time consuming and costly, particularly for retailers with large inventories that need constant updating.
Aiming to solve both problems is product display infrastructure start-up Content Llama, which takes the marketing materials produced by brands, formats the information to suit individual retailers' websites and delivers it ready to publish.
"We bridge the product content gap between suppliers and retailers by taking messy files full of different images and descriptions and making it all eTail ready," says Karina Kelly, who cofounded Content Llama with Joleen Looney in 2019.
Kelly has a background in marketing and ecommerce while Looney worked in business development for 14 years. The third member of the management team is chief technology officer Dominic O'Toole, who spent a large part of his career in software development with blue-chips companies such as IBM and Nokia.
“A big headache for retailers when starting a website or updating an existing one is getting products onto their platform. This is even more of an issue now as retailers need to make more products available online and may be down staff due to Covid,” says Kelly.
“There is no systematic way for a retailer to gather, organise and transform content from hundreds of brands for the thousands of products they carry.
“At the moment, this can involve maybe 50 steps and dozens of different channels. As a result, retailers are left with a process that is slow, manual, costly, and rife with gaps and errors. We automate the task, give completion timelines of days rather than weeks and our gateway can work remotely to keep new products constantly flowing to our customers’ websites.
“Most players already in this space deal with different parts of the content workflow, such as helping brands to distribute their content. What makes us different is that we are 100 per cent focused on getting content into the retailer’s workflow in the format they require,” Kelly adds.
Content Llama was launched in February this year and its initial target market was online sports/outdoor fashion retailers turning over more than €5 million a year.
With the arrival of coronavirus, however, the company added the pharmacy sector as a second income strand and Kelly says it has gained traction very quickly.
So far, the company has signed several flagship clients including Aer Rianta, Lifestyle Sports and a pilot with US retailer Moosejaw, which is owned by Walmart.
Content Llama operates a subscription-based revenue model based on volume and the level of product detail required. Costs start at €795 a month for the “Baby Llama” subscription with customised packages for larger operators.
The company’s potential clients are global and range from high-street pharmacies to international retailers and there are more than 10,000 potential customers for the company in the sports/outdoor fashion sector alone.
“Our system leaves online retailers free to prioritise other things knowing that quality content is reaching their site with speed and consistency,” says Kelly whose company’s service sits within the €46 billion digital commerce software market that is growing at about 12 per cent year on year.
Content Llama now employs 10 people and operates as a distributed team with employees in Donegal, Kerry, Galway, Kilkenny, Dublin and the Ukraine.
To date roughly €500,000 has been invested in the business between founder equity, angel investment and HPSU funding. The company, which is in the process of preparing for another funding round, has also received support from Enterprise Ireland's New Frontiers programme and the NDRC.