Steven Power of CommentSold on the growth and promise of live selling

Over the last five years, CommentSold has grown to become the North American leader in live selling technology. Every month, thousands of businesses on its platform broadcast live, shoppable video streams to sell fashion, beauty, home goods, electronics, and other items to over 16 million registered users. Altogether, these businesses have sold more than 94 million items worth more than $3 billion on CommentSold.

We spoke with Steven Power, President of CommentSold, about the importance of live selling in e-commerce, how the company’s partnership with Stripe enables innovation, and what he sees as the biggest trends in retail.

Products used

North America

Can you tell us more about CommentSold – your mission, goals, and the customers that you support?

CommentSold enables retailers to unlock sales growth through live selling products or services during a livestream with the push of a button. This form of retail creates an important and effective marketing strategy that connects sellers with their customers on a deep level and gives retailers another important channel to reach their customers. Live selling is approaching a quarter of a trillion dollar industry in China, but is at a much earlier stage in the US.

CommentSold’s first objective is to make it easy for new retailers to experience and start live commerce themselves. We’re a platform for those who are interested in increasing their online presence.

Our second objective is to help retailers grow and expand. We’re consistently developing new technologies, features, and benefits. For example, we recently released a new brand, Videeo, that’s a best-in-class live video solution for enterprises.

Third is building strategic partnerships. Our partners work with emerging technologies and e-commerce ecosystems that are incredibly important and add tremendous value to our merchants. We work with partners that have the right technology, the right audience, and the right ancillary benefits to help our merchants quickly and easily sell live as they scale and grow their businesses.

What led you to join CommentSold?

I was initially excited by CommentSold’s history, product, and incredible success, as well as their team, culture, and the live commerce space.

The company’s origins were also quite compelling. CommentSold was launched in Huntsville, Alabama in 2017 by our founder, Brandon Kruse. He and his wife wanted a better way to sell online, so Brandon developed automation software that grew the business from $10,000 to $100,000 in monthly sales. Scaling quickly brought new challenges, so Brandon built an even more robust software stack that ultimately led to CommentSold. As a result, Brandon and his wife started earning up to $3 million a month. Based on this success, they realised the solution could scale to benefit other companies. Their story and impact drew me to CommentSold as a board member and advisor to the company. After seven months on the board, I became President.

Was there anything that surprised you about e-commerce and live selling when you joined CommentSold?

Live commerce is global and it's growing rapidly on TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. It’s transforming e-commerce. The next generation is shopping through social media, and they’re doing it with their friends and influencers. They’re finding new holiday destinations, new bars and restaurants, and new fashion, all on social platforms.

What are some of the biggest challenges that you seek to overcome on behalf of your customers?

Live selling is hard to do alone. It can be complex to set up your accounts, and it gets technically difficult when streaming across different platforms. CommentSold provides training, learning management systems, and coaching on how to host live sales successfully, find an audience, and connect with consumers in a meaningful way. We also help manage aspects like payments, shipping, insurance, and other logistics so our users can scale their business.

How does CommentSold support businesses during a time of economic slowdown?

We’ve faced two very different economic circumstances in the last two years. During COVID-19, people needed a way to earn income, grow their businesses, and meet audiences online. Now, retailers are looking to present their brands, products, and services in a way that stands out – with video at the forefront. The live commerce market is projected to hit $65 billion in the US by 2023 and will only continue to grow, with Millennial and Gen Z shoppers leading the way.

Can you share examples of a smaller merchant and a larger enterprise that have benefitted from CommentSold?

CommentSold supports startups – anyone from a mum putting her kids through school to a college student launching a microbusiness. We also work with high profile medium to large enterprise level businesses ranging from speciality retailers selling clothing and jewellery to other products like home goods, sports merchandise, and outdoor equipment. CommentSold is well positioned to support any business of any size. We are truly experts at our craft, which is why this is so exciting.

The best retailers are moving very quickly to update what products they offer and to meet the shopping preferences of new audiences. For example, the rapid adoption of buy now, pay later has been key. There will also be some interesting developments in the metaverse that will let businesses interact with customers in a new way. Continued and aggressive expansion of mobile is an important factor as well.

How do payments play a role in live commerce, both for your company and your customers?

Payments are critical. We're in an industry where this piece has to be frictionless. When a consumer decides they want to interact and purchase something, payment has to be quick, easy, and simple, in order to evoke a high level of confidence and trust that the transaction will be done appropriately. With Stripe, we also have fraud protection and mitigation, which is critical to this end.

How can Stripe and CommentSold continue to partner effectively on behalf of mid-size and enterprise customers?

Open dialogue has been – and will continue to be – critically important. Both Stripe and CommentSold are focused on how we can effectively meet a customer’s needs. We’ve been able to plan our product roadmap and share information about what we are experiencing and how we can support our customers and merchants.

How are Stripe and CommentSold closely aligned in our missions?

It starts with our customer focus. CommentSold’s partnership with Stripe has enabled us to grow our merchants with a very high focus on product quality and customer service. Our focus on innovation also allows us to expand the range of products and services that benefit the customer. That shared focus increases the trust that brands have placed in us to feel safe and comfortable with a frictionless payments system.

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