Korea’s Alwayz aims to make online shopping fun again with $46M in funding

Seoul-based e-commerce company Levia shopping app operator Always, wants to make the shopping experience more enjoyable and affordable. The two-year-old startup recently raised $46 million in a Series B funding round led by DST Global Partners with participation from new investor BOND and existing backers of KB Investment, Mirae Asset Capital, Korea Investment Partners, GS Ventures and Klim Ventures. With the latest round, Levit has raised a total of $67 million since its inception.

Alwayz offers a wide range of products, from everyday groceries to home appliances and clothing to cosmetics. But it differs from typical e-commerce platforms by incorporating social features like short videos and video games into online shopping to engage customers.

For example, users can earn rewards by playing the Don-Don-E pig character farming game, or get real-life crops after successful farming by playing a game called AI-Farm in the app. its use. Additionally, Alwayz recently introduced a “Shorts” feature that allows users to watch short videos and, in return, receive discounts on their purchases.

It also attracts customers with low-priced products. Users get a discount if they buy the product together with other users or their friends on Alwayz. Always C2M model (consumer to producer) eliminating layers of distributors, including logistics, inventory, and other intermediaries, allowing the application to deliver high-quality products at lower prices. According to the company, most sellers on Alwayz are manufacturers or manufacturers.

Levit CEO and co-founder, Jaeyun Kang, said: “Our average product selling price is about 20% cheaper than the lowest prices on other e-commerce platforms. “This has been done because lesser known brands have traditionally spent close to 30-50% of the sale price on search-based marketing. [e-commerce] platform, can now sell their products more effectively on Alwayz through discovery-based shopping.”

Levit says games and social features help users access the Alwayz app on a daily basis and expose themselves to a wide variety of products, even if they don’t have the immediate intention of buying.

“As users enjoy engaging experiences on our platform, we leverage their high engagement to recommend them a variety of items through our recommendation algorithms. This way, even if the items come from less well-known brands, customers can still discover and buy them,” said Kang. Levit describes this user experience as an “exploratory shopping experience”.

When asked about how to ensure low-priced products are of high quality, the company’s CEO said their recommendation algorithms evaluate all items on Alwayz, using factors like conversion rates. and customer acquisition rate. “We make sure that an item is not exposed to the public until it has proven its quality, and this approach allows us to maintain the quality of the items,” he said.

Image credits: Levit / Always

Since its launch in September 2021, the startup claims Alwayz has amassed 1 million users within three months and has reached 7 million users, 2.5 million monthly active users (MAU ) and 1.3 million daily active users (DAUs) for a year and a half. Alwayz aims to secure over 12 million registered users, 5 million MAU and 3 million DAU by the end of 2023, Kang said, adding that it has nearly 20,000 registered merchants on the app.

Levit’s three founders — Kang, Sangwoo Park, and Hyunjik Lee — set their sights on two ambitious goals: building Levit into the leading e-commerce company in Korea and occupies a significant share of the global discovery shopping market.

Alwayz has to compete with local peers, such as Coupang, Naver and Kurly, but its business model is more similar to US-listed e-commerce. Pinduoduo and based in China AliExpress about social features and lower priced products.

Outfits, which has 20 people on the team, is planning to bring its platform to the US market early this year.

“It is very rare for disruptions to occur in horizontal trade,” said Daegwon Chae, general partner of BOND. “Getting rid of the big incumbents requires meaningfully better, faster, cheaper experiences that are hard to achieve in a mature and efficient market. Alwayz broke ground with a relentless focus on user experience, engagement, and value.”


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