Packagd’s Unboxed and the Uncertain but Exciting Future of Mobile Video Shopping

Packagd's Unboxed and the Uncertain but Exciting Future of Mobile Video Shopping

A few days ago, Packagd unveiled their first video shopping app: the Unboxed app. From the announcement:

Today we’re thrilled to take the wrapping off our startup, Packagd, a mobile platform creating a new shopping experience that combines the best unboxing videos with social viewing and the ability to buy seamlessly. […]

Our first mobile app launching today is called Unboxed (literally) and focuses on the latest tech gadgets, devices, and trends. And tech is only the beginning — later this year, we’ll be launching separate apps for the beauty and toys product categories.

And they provide the context:

On YouTube and unboxing:

It may be hard to believe, but the number one overall channel on YouTube for the past 40 consecutive weeks is Ryan ToysReview, a toy unboxing channel that is watched nearly 200 million times each week and is more popular than the video channels for Katy Perry, Buzzfeed, or even Dude Perfect. […]

On video commerce in general:

the leaders in video ecommerce — QVC and HSN — generate more than $12 billion in annual revenue. In the last three years, mobile e-commerce has grown 300%. Unboxing videos are enormously popular today, with an estimated 10 billion monthly views worldwide.

Like Wish does, Packagd too wants to launch several separate mobile apps. It will be interesting to watch how they will try to establish those. Establishing one new app is hard. Doing so for several apps takes the according amount of more ressources.

Unboxed collaborates with top YouTubers:

Unboxed is collaborating with top YouTube tech creators like Austin Evans, Dom Esposito, Kevin Nether (Kevin the Tech Ninja), and many more, who are not only amazingly talented storytellers, but also bonafide gadget, electronics, gaming, and device experts. When you open the Unboxed app, you’ll see the best tech unboxing videos carefully curated into shows, and you’ll also have an opportunity to live chat with creators and influencers to get their expert advice. To make our in-app shopping experience even more seamless, we’re working with Best Buy to enable users to easily purchase products as they view videos on Unboxed.

In theory, this makes sense: Those online stars not only bring reach (they have a built-in audience) but also the content. They know how to, uh, entertainingly unbox. (And they are all desparate to be less dependable on YouTube for their income.)

But unboxing as a video genre emerged on a general interest video platform. Can you institutionalize the genre and bring it successfully into its own app ghetto? This is more genuinely an online medium than say, an online stream of QVC’s TV programe, but this is by no means a safe home run.

And how fast can you expand into the category in general (gadgets and consumer electronics for Unboxed)? Here is Unboxed’s current slogan:

Watch your favorite experts share the latest tech trends to help you discover and buy products you’ll love.

It’s already beyond unboxing.

Cooperating with Best Buy, of course, makes sure that Unboxed will be a US-only story for the time being. (Hence launching iOS only makes sense too. The US are iPhone land.)

As US companies traditionally have a hard time with successfully going international, this idea lends itself to be adopted (copied) by local companies in other regions. Not least because it is far harder to translate video into other languages than text. For text you can use translators, for videos you need local video stars to produce/syndicate fresh content in the local language.

Ideally, after initially piggybacking on YouTube, Unboxed can establish its own ecosystem.

Unboxed is something to keep an eye on.

Can an organically grown system consisting of distinct parts..:

  • content
  • social
  • ads successfully ported into a vertically integrated, dedicated, shopping-centric app?

That is the big question here.

If they can make it work, it will be indeed a big part of the future of video commerce. (And the video genre itself will morph inside Packagd’s app into something more between todays unboxing/gadget videos on one side and QVC on the other side.)

Unsurprisingly, Forerunner Ventures is amongst the investors. Forerunner’s Kirsten Green on Unboxed:

“The common thread between any investment we’ve made and this investment is what’s motivating someone to part with their dollars,” Green said.

That said, she recognizes the difficulty in creating a new channel like Packagd. “It’s difficult to build a media platform and a shopping platform at the same time,” she said. The good news is that Packagd has at least partially de-risked the content side of things by relying on existing YouTube videos for much of its content.

TechCrunch on Packagd:

Packagd was founded by KPCB general partner Eric Feng, a serial entrepreneur who has also served as CTO of companies like Hulu and Flipboard. His firm put up the initial $1.5 million to get Packagd off the ground, and the company has raised a $6 million Series A round led by Forerunner Ventures and GV.

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