Paloma banks on checkout across direct messages in launching new storefront product

May 13, 2024
Emmy Liederman
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In an eCommerce world constantly shouting about faster website launches and one-click checkout, Kelsey Hunter is betting on an economy not dependent on websites but rather conversions via direct messages across social media. 

As founder and CEO of Paloma, Hunter has long understood the power of DMs. In 2018 she launched Paloma’s first product, which allows merchants to connect their backend catalog with their Facebook and Instagrams DMs. This essentially streamlined the discovery process for customers who engaged with brands via DMs, pointing them to the right products and aiding them in checkout.

The problem, though, was that merchants still needed a backend website management tool - like Shopify or Square - to both power the catalog and complete the checkout. 

But that’s no longer the case. Today, Paloma has launched what it’s terming “the first checkout for Instagram DMs, officially becoming the only DM-commerce platform.” 

The difference between Paloma’s new ‘storefront’ launch and other products in the market: You don’t need an existing website to power the catalog, checkout links, or ultimately the checkout.

According to Hunter, you can upload your catalog to Paloma and allow the software to send customers checkout links across Facebook and Instagram DMs (they’re looking to expand into other social channels in the future.) Which products are added to a ‘cart’ is powered by hashtags. Not unlike SMS codes, each product can be assigned a unique hashtag. When a customer DMs a candle merchant with ‘#LavenderCandle’ they’ll be sent a checkout link with the lavender candle already in their cart.

Once a customer checks out via a Paloma link the merchant pays a transaction fee of 4.9% + $0.30.

Paloma also supports inventory and order management.

Kelsey Hunter | Founder & CEO of Paloma

"This is the next online sales channel. Sellers don’t need a traditional website because it’s not how consumers are shopping today,” said Hunter. “It’s too much of a heavy lift  compared to the success merchants are seeing on native social channels. Why bother launching a website when that's not where people are buying?"

It’s no secret that functions like live chat and DM conversations help increase eCommerce conversion rates, but those options are only available to brands with existing websites and the infrastructure to handle the conversations.

"In terms of direct chat between the brand and the customer, there is nothing like that experience," Hunter said of the importance of DMs. "There are a lot of things like it in the physical world, but not in the digital world. We see that when a seller goes into DMs with a customer, it just changes the entire dynamic."

And with Paloma that dynamic is enhanced by automating checkout links and sending them to customers via DM. 

Paloma’s new functionality becomes even more important in a post-influencer world, where it’s the middle class creators who are not only influencing brand loyalty but launching their own products and brands. 

"There are creators that have started making and selling products, and it's important for us to support them in the native channels they're operating in,” Hunter said, adding that Paloma is for the artisans and curators who previously may focus on an Etsy shop but aren’t wanting to build their own site.

So in a world of ‘conversational’ and ‘social’ commerce, where does Paloma fit in?

“We’re a DM Commerce Platform,” said Hunter. “We help sellers do all of the things they can do with any other ecomm platform  – managing checkout, inventory and orders – we just do it across DM.”

Paloma launched its storefront product in beta this year and has more than 600 merchants who are going through the onboarding process.

So what’s next? 

Hunter said her team is looking into further integration with post-order systems, including fulfillment softwares, and opening the checkout via DM to functionality to other platforms like TikTok and WhatsApp. 

“This is really the Shopify for the rest of the Internet,” Hunter said. "This is where the next generation of sellers is starting their businesses, and we're eager to help them with their success."

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