Seoul-based e-commerce company Levita shopping app operator Always, wants to make the shopping experience more entertaining 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 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 inception.
Alwayz offers a wide range of products, ranging from daily groceries to home appliances and clothing to cosmetics. But it departs from typical e-commerce platforms by incorporating social features like short videos and gamification into online shopping to attract customers.
For example, users can earn rewards by playing games feeding the pig character Don-Don-E, or receive crops in real life after successfully growing crops by playing a game called AI-Farm in its application. Additionally, Alwayz recently introduced a “Shorts” feature that allows users to watch short videos and in return get discounts when shopping.
It also attracts customers with low-priced products. Users get discounts if they buy products with other users or their friends on Alwayz. from Alwayz C2M model (consumer to manufacturer) removes the layers of distributors, including logistics, inventory, and other middlemen, allowing the app to offer high-quality products at lower prices. Most sellers on Alwayz are growers or manufacturers, depending on the company.
“Our average selling price of products is about 20% cheaper than the lowest prices on other e-commerce platforms,” said Levit CEO and co-founder Jaeyun Kang. “This has been made possible because lesser-known brands, which traditionally spent almost 30-50% of the sale price on marketing on search (e-commerce) platforms, can now sell their products more effectively on Alwayz via discovery-based shopping.”
Levit claims that the games and social features help users access the Alwayz app daily and gain exposure to various products, even if they don’t intend to purchase immediately.
“As users enjoy the engaging experience on our platform, we leverage their high engagement to expose them to a range of items through our recommendation algorithms. This way, even if items are from less known, customers can discover and purchase them,” Kang said. Levit describes this user experience as a “discovery shopping experience.”
Asked how it ensures product quality at low prices, the company’s CEO said its recommendation algorithms evaluate all items on Alwayz, using factors such as customer conversion and repurchase rates. “We ensure that an article does not get widely exposed until it has proven its quality, and this approach allows us to maintain the quality of the articles,” he said.
Since its launch in September 2021, the startup claims that Alwayz has amassed 1 million users in three months and reached 7 million users, 2.5 million monthly active users (MAUs) and 1.3 million subscribers. daily active users (DAU) in a year and a half. Alwayz aims to secure over 12 million registered users, 5 million MAUs and 3 million DAUs by the end of 2023, Kang said, adding that he has nearly 20,000 registered sellers on the app.
Three founders of Levit – Kang, Sangwoo Park and Hyunjik Lee – set themselves two ambitious goals: to make Levit the leading e-commerce company in South Korea and capturing 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 e-commerce Pinduoduo and China-based AliExpress in terms of social features and low-cost products.
The team, which has 20 people on the team, plans to introduce its platform to the US market as early as this year.
“Disruptions in horizontal trade are rare,” said Daegwon Chae, general partner of BOND. “Displacing large incumbents requires significantly better, faster and cheaper experiences, which is difficult to achieve in a mature and efficient market. Alwayz broke through with a focus on user experience, engagement and value.