Reports regularly show that nothing drives online retail conversions like recommendations from friend, but some businesses have struggled to implement a simple recommendation system.
We spoke to nToklo, a new product that aims to solve this problem by making the recommendation model truly social.
In one sentence, what is nToklo?
It is a new social gateway and recommendations engine that creates a social shopping experience by providing more personalised recommendations to users.
What problem does nToklo solve?
Today consumers are exposed to so much noise when looking for recommendations to make a purchase, and nToklo aims to reduce this noise by enabling consumers to quickly and conveniently use friend’s recommendations to help with their purchasing decision.
According to the 2009 Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, recommendations from personal acquaintances are the most trusted forms of advertising, with 90% of consumers affirming their trust in this.
The nToklo engine enables retailers and mobile operators to integrate this social activity and recommendations into their existing stores to extend audience reach, increase sales and boost customer loyalty.
When and why did you launch it?
We launched in February 2011.
Who is your target audience?
Our key audiences are mobile operators and retailers, both online and mobile.
Operators: Traditionally handsets have been supplied with pre-loaded software for consumers; however, the growth in app and app stores has signalled a move away from this trend, with users wanting to discover software and apps for their smartphones.
Retailers: Companies that sell online can differentiate themselves by integrating this social experience into their own sites, to offer an engaging social commerce experience.
What were the biggest challenges involved in building nToklo?
Of the challenges we've faced in developing the nToklo solution, scalability, relevancy and privacy stand out and are intimately linked with one another.
One of the underpinning objectives driving nToklo is to provide users with relevant content inclusive of their social activity. Today there is an abundance of online content available to users and it’s more readily accessible with the growth in mobile capabilities - users are 'anywhere online.' This has given users more choice but the flip side is that users are struggling to find the content they actually want.
nToklo has combined users' social activity with their search for content for more relevant recommendations and content discovery, and it is here where these challenges have emerged. In order to accommodate the prolific activity, we need a scalable system to capture and process this data while respecting the user’s right to security and privacy of their data, whilst ensuring we deliver relevant recommendations and provide good social content discovery.
By its very nature, user activity is unpredictable and we have no interest in changing that. nToklo captures data to use and create the most relevant recommendations and information for consumers and commerce platform owners.
What trends are you seeing in Social Commerce at the moment?
Currently, there is a wave of retailers embracing social commerce to increase their online offering and improve their customer experience. Most commonly, they are turning to Facebook, however, by doing so they could be diverting traffic away from their own website.
Retailers must consider that if they rely solely on Facebook for social commerce, how will they avoid becoming beholden to the social networking behemoth?
How will the company make money?
By helping retailers increase customer acquisition, retention and sales with its social recommendation engine.
What is your pricing model?
A fixed license fee and a small charge per transaction.
Who is in the team and what does it look like?
nToklo has a team of experienced internet and mobile veterans, including:
- CEO Gareth Mee is a business entrepreneur within the mobile internet software services and product space. In his role at nToklo, Gareth is responsible for growth and strategic direction of the organisation. Gareth is also the Managing Director of ITHR Consulting, one of the UK’s leading mobile internet software services providers
- Non-Executive Director Javier Foncillas is an entrepreneur and mobile internet veteran, drawing on his telecoms knowledge from past positions at Vodafone Group and Vodafone Spain.
Javier has helped back the development of nToklo and is passionate about providing a new way for members of the mobile eco-system to engage with customers through the idea of social commerce. Javier is also CEO of his own company, Pocket Widget.
- Product Director Anton Gething has over 10 years international experience within the online and social media content space, with a focus on mobile, having gained a wealth of experience and knowledge whilst at organisations such as Vodafone, Yahoo! and Teleca.
Along with his position at nToklo Anton fulfils the role of Principle Consultant at ITHR Consulting; Anton is also Co-founder of MindQuilt.
- Business Development Manager James Aylwin has over six years' business development experience across a variety of sectors, with particular focus on IT, telecommunications, mobile internet and software services.
Building on his experience of managing relationships with key clients such as Sky, BT, Carphone Warehouse, T-Mobile and 3, James is responsible for increasing the market visibility of nToklo. In addition to this role James is the Business Development Manager at ITHR Consulting, one of the UK’s leading mobile internet software services providers.
Where would you like to be in one, three and five year’s time?
In year one, we'd like to have several e-commerce sites in Europe using the nToklo technology.
In year two, we hope to see our second generation social recommendation engine deployed across operators and retailers around Europe, and after five years integrated into several tier one e-commerce sites around the world.