October 10, 2021 will be the third anniversary of NTWRK, a video ecommerce platform targeting Millennials and Gen Z shoppers, collectors and fashionistas. NTWRK is inspired by the success Chinese sites such as Taobao, Mogujie, Webo and even Alibaba are having, building community around gamified shopping experiences built over video streaming. NTWRK is driving to be the largest video commerce brand in North America and expand from there. Their premise is mobile first vertical video plus the brings best brands and creators combined with desirable product drops will lead them to an accelerating audience of consumers with discretionary income.
NTWRK’s CEO Aaron Levant and NTWRK’s President Moksha Fitzgibbons are digital geniuses who have partnered with content creators, influencers, artists and financial backers like Live Nation and Main Street Partners to build a community which melds limited availability merchandise with creators or creatives who display it for sale over live video streams. Aaron and Moksha consider NTWRK to be “MTV meets QVC
NTWRK’s model is combining exclusive daily products put on sale for a limited time or quantity, with viewer encouraged by the hosts of each segment to purchase the item. This social distribution model is sticky, as viewers stay as much to see the shows as they do to satiate their curiosity over what will be for sale next. These shows generate both engagement and commerce. Their design is to blur the line between actual scarcity and the perception of limited supply. Nothing makes you want to go somewhere more than a red rope barrier at the entrance. NTWRK’s model is the video equivalent. Their products are only available for a short time, and when they’re sold, typically, they’re sold. Some of these products are private label goods, some are from the creators themselves who are displaying on the show. NTWRK is a marketing channel. They are selling products in home goods, art, clothing, beauty, gaming and still adding more opportunities. Meanwhile, NTWRK doesn’t make the products sold and those products are drop shipped by the creator or manufacturer of the goods directly to the consumer. Instead, they moderate the content of curation by building a team of merchandisers and curators who recruit creators
NTWRK has both pop up shows and repeating regular shows. The pop-up shows might be a one-off event with a musician such as Haley Williams from Paramore or the band Waterparks who play a new song, talk with callers, and sell a limited number of signed vinyl records or a collection of one-off merchandise. J. Balvin did a collaboration with McDonalds
The regular shows and daily episodes, which are more predictable about when they air are based on a variety of topics such as:
Wild Cards – Hosted by Scott Rogowsky, Wild Cards is a show that features opening packs of trading cards to unearth rare finds.
Unhinged – a dating show which sells T-shirts and other products, which is currently on hiatus
Meltdown – comic books and pop culture/nerd fandom
Late Lunch – Hosted by vintage purveyor Sean Wotherspoon, Late Lunch features candid conversations with iconic figures from the fashion, hip hop, and sneaker industries as well as a collection of exclusive merchandise from his lifestyle brand—also named Late Lunch.
Soled Out – sneaker show hosted by creators Brittany Sky & Eutel Wallace.
Also, NTWRK creates digital shopping festivals where they bring together two days’ worth of creators and personalities all of whom exhibit special merchandise and opportunities available during the festival.
The underlying idea of NTWRK is moving ecommerce from a frustrating model of getting kicked out of waiting rooms or having your shopping cart hijacked before you can check out into an interactive experience with the creator or the personality curating the items immediately before you and on sale. Sometimes, there are only 100 pairs of a highly desired sneaker and 60,000 people who want them. By taking that experience off your laptop where you simply bang the keyboard trying to get through and converting into a community experience where you may not get through this time, but you know there will be another opportunity coming soon, it makes it somewhat less “shopping” and somehow more about building community. This is important, because I’m just old enough to remember when the lead character of the movie Network was Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch displayed his frustration, a feeling shared by almost anyone who has ever tried to buy hyped items like Supreme or Nike
Moksha and Aaron are both good natured and eminently reasonable. They are modeling a domestic version of a shopping concept which is already well established and doing it with North American partners who have reach and substance. Once the audience grows to where the NTWRK can broadcast 24/7/365 then the model grows itself. The growing pains are this part, while the audience has more limited options of when events will be live. Already, NTWRK has shipped product to 88 countries so far well along the path to becoming a global business.
Here is our conversation in both video and audio podcast formatting:
As the world blurs lines between art and commerce, companies like NTWRK are out in front of the trend. Consumers don’t want to go find things to buy, they want to buy things they see. As average screen time grows, and devices continue to increase in capability and speed, it’s natural that commerce will move more deeply into phones.
The Covid-19 pandemic sped up the adaption of ecommerce exponentially. It was inevitable that demand is growing for what Ariana Grande might call “I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it.” culture. This model works best if you are on point with trends, Q-scores and surfing the wave of presenter popularity. Aaron and Moksha are running NTWRK with a sure hand. As they continue to build audience and engagement through programmed entertainment and thoughtful gamification strategies, NTWRK’s presence, consumer base, revenue and bottom line should all grow in lock step. Because I’m just a little bit older than Ariana, I will just say that “I’m a believer.”