Consumers aren't just sharing the charming personal moments of their lives on social media — they're producing data that Israeli startup Feelter contends can revolutionize online shopping.
"If you take a picture with a camera and put it on Instagram or send a Tweet, that's a lot of data that can help consumers make decisions about products," said David Chang, who joined digital commerce company Feelter this month as executive chairman following a stint running PayPal's Boston office. Feelter recently received a $2 million investment led by Will Graylin, the global co-general manager of Samsung Pay and the founder of LoopPay, bringing Feelter's total funding to $4 million. Feelter will use the fund to build merchant partnerships in the U.S.
Feelter, a portmanteau of "feelings" and "filter," is a two-year-old Tel Aviv-based company that culls product reviews from social media and provides retailers with an embeddable widget that assigns products such as hotel rooms or cars a quality score of 1-10. The company's goal is to enable purchases and payments closer to the time in which a consumer is researching or shopping, reducing cart abandonment and providing a sense of transparency.
Retailers buy Feelter's technology and receive a code that they put in their e-commerce site. When a consumer visits a site and chooses a product category, Feelter's algorithm looks for information on the product such as mentions, reviews, videos, photos or recommendations. Feelter curates this content to remove "fake" reviews or posts that are not relevant.
While retailers are exposed to potentially bad reviews or negative content, they are also adding more information for the consumer at the point of purchase—much of this consumer research typically happens separate from checkout or the retailer's e-commerce site.
"We're taking all of that intel that's out there on social media, pulling it together in one place and normalizing it," Chang said. "The value we create goes back to customer experience."
Feelter's current focus are travel businesses including El Al Israel Airlines and Bookingisreal.
"Consumers are looking for validation from others before buying, and they'll find it with or without the companies' help," Graylin said. "So if the companies using Feelter can provide these crowdsourced truthful reviews all in one place, then consumers are more likely to stay on the site and more likely to buy."
The company also lends itself to broader shopping and payment trends, particularly among younger consumers, said Graylin, who has also worked with other startups and has made other fintech investments. Feelter would not answer questions on any possible tie between Samsung Pay and Feelter.
"This market is changing as the consumer shopping habits, especially for millennials are more tech savvy consumers are relying on technology to do two things: make buying decisions and pay for their transactions," Graylin said.
Companies like Feelter can eliminate a gap between product presentation and objective product evaluation, said Thad Peterson, a senior analyst at Aite Group.
"It's like wandering through the store with a bunch of CNET evaluators right behind you," Peterson said. "Or, like a Rotten Tomatoes for goods and services. It will also have a significant impact on [search engine optimization] for the retailers since they're aggregating the responses behind the merchants."
There is a challenge, since the merchant will have to deal with a "low rated" product.
"How does the merchant manage this? Are they going to display a "one star" product or just drop it from the inventory?" Peterson said.