New marketplace: Bubbles

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BubblesDan and I first heard of Bubbles at Internet Retailing Expo last month. A new marketplace is always of interest, but as normal we had several basic questions: What are you doing to attract buyers, what sales figures are you achieving and why should already busy retailers consider listing on your site.

There are many sites we’d recommend that retailers totally avoid, there are others (such as, Pixmania and more recently Flubit) that we’d recommend that you investigate further to see if they’re suited for your products, and then there’s eBay and Amazon which are pretty much obligatory for almost all retailers.

So what about Bubbles? Firstly there’s no sales history to shout about, the site only just launched so it would be unreasonable to have a track record of sales. However they’re appear to be doing all of the right things to have a shot at success including having already launched an integration with eSellerPro making it easy for eSellerPro clients to list their products on the site. We asked Julian Fisher, Bubbles founder to tell us more:

Alive and kicking..!

Bubbles home pageFollowing our highly successful launch at IRX’13 Bubbles is seeing tens of thousands of products being loaded with new retailers joining independently using our API, csv file upload or via eCommerce companies such as eSellerPro and Etail Systems.

What are you doing to attract buyers?

Although we are new we are starting to experience a growing level of traffic to our site. From 1st May this will grow exponentially as we ramp up our marketing campaigns to include above and below the line media. A high street shopping campaign called #whatsyourquest and a collaborative campaign with Bubbles’ retail clients. Since shopping is very much a socially shared experience we have some very interesting promotions rolling out over the forthcoming few months.

What are the costs

To assist retailers in using Bubbles we are offering a free trial, waiving our sales commission fee of 5% (ex vat). We are also offering a 100% fully managed account which includes all data entry. Retailers need only fulfill orders. Payment will be sent direct and without delay and without any fee from Bubbles.

With the recent fee increases we are very mindful that retailers will be concerned over our raising fees. To meet that issue head on we pledged to hold our sales fee at 5% for 24 months since launch.

What makes Bubbles different?

The key word in that differentiates Bubbles is ‘match’. Bubbles does not use search technology but our own matching algorithm which improves with use, both overall and at the user level where our system will learn individual tastes from the choices made. The efficiency of our matching is also tied to the number of products both in our system and those that move in and out over time. Shopping is a fluid activity that commonly occurs over more than one session… you visit an online store on a Monday and the item you want is not available – unbeknownst to you new stock is being added overnight. Unless you revisit the store you wont know, you wont find the item you want.

We are often asked what makes us unique. Besides matching which works better to find the product that is fulfills the need Bubbles shopping service is both personal but more importantly ‘progressive’.

Bubbles Matching Algorithm

Let me first explaining matching vs search since without this our ability to fulfill a pairing of need to resource would be desperately inefficient.

Matching works best on an individual basis. Instead of being pigeon holed into certain categories our system looks at how best to meet the need – rather than simply throw up a vast collection of items that are more relevant to a majority or a ‘crowd’. Its easier to understand this with a real life example. You go into a hotel bar to meet a friend for a drink… you are looking around for somewhere to sit, relax and unwind. If you were to ‘search’ this bar you would find, chairs, stools, sofas and benches. However, you are looking to find a seat to relax. When we look to ‘match’ what we need its not any old seat we want but a sofa. Search presents a host of options but in most cases too many.

Since search delivers a massive selection it works incredibly well for ‘search engines’ who engage clever software to funnel so-called results. These results are based, in part, on companies paying to be presented ahead of their competitors. All well and good but this is not natural selection where we swap financial muscle for a true match. The product I want is not guaranteed to come from a company who can simply pay more to be advertised.

Bubbles does not permit supplier prioritisation… there are no company adverts in Bubbles and no means for a retailer to place their product ahead of another simply by virtue of payment. Our system works solely on matching the need to a resource that exists ‘in stock’ from within the supply chain. What this means is that ALL retailers can compete openly and fairly.

Why should retailers should consider Bubbles

In addition we have introduced many other retailer benefits, including no listing fee, no subscription charges and no service costs in the provision of the shop provided to every store. Further, every Bubbles shop front is optimised for every device so the shoppers viewing and buying experience is sublime over any smartphone.

Why would consumers be interested in Bubbles?

For the consumer Bubbles is more akin to shopping in the traditional sense since we are bringing both on and offline shopping & browsing into ‘one experience’ – a progressive process that ends the start stop start stop, dip in, dip out manner in which we shop online today. Forever stumbling into sites we have already discounted and having to back track desperately trying to remember what we had already viewed. Bubbles is both seamless and holistic which results in a faster and simpler approach to shopping.

The final word on Bubbles must go to our focus on ‘value’. With so many sites built to deliver an ever downward spiraling price, a double edged sword approach to gaining traffic, these websites have no consideration to retailers and their need to build a sustainable business. Whether a retailer makes little money or a loss is of no concern since the marketplace makes revenue from its commission against the final selling price.

Value includes price so it is integral and forms part of any consumer’s decision process… but it is not exclusive unless of course the price is so low the item becomes a ‘bargain’ and in most cases that means its being sold at a loss. Value is derived from a host of elements not least of which includes ‘benefits’ – those parts of the product that are inherently desired where a retailer has used their skills, their ‘service’ and positioning to impart the information which provides the impulses that drive a consumer to buy the item.

What to do next

Bubbles understands retail. We understand what drives sales and creates a good and sustainable business. And its not simply about price alone.

So, isnt time to You can also contact bubbles via email at [email protected] or telephone 0845 299 6399

40 Responses

  1. I checked it out. There are two major issues I can spot from the homepage.

    1) It lists current quests that are going on. But if you click on them nothing happens. Why not allow it to become your quest with a simple click?

    2) The main issue is the way search works. It isn’t a real time search like eBay, etc but is asynchronous instead. Yes, this is explained but when I’m looking to buy something I really don’t want to enter my email so I can be given the results at a later date. I want the results you have now and perhaps you can send me more results later as they come in if I don’t make a purchase now. That’s what Amazon does automatically though it is annoying. The moment you ask for an email address your potential customer is likely to bolt.

  2. Someone once said that you should be able to explain what your business is all about in one short sentence.

    I guess this is not the case.

    And for majority of “normal people” I highly doubt the ditch of a classical search system is a bonus.

    I hope I’m wrong and Bubbles will be the next big thing as the more successful Marketplaces we have, the better.

    Like the name & logo though! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. Interesting idea, but in todays world of ‘now now now’ where people are looking for things as fast as possible I can’t see people either entering an email address, or waiting for results to be emailed to them.

    Best of luck to Bubbles and I hope it works, but it seems like a step backwards to me.

  4. There may be some future in this idea.

    When there is a database of frequent “Quests” that users can shop through in real time the site could become successful.

  5. I was sufficiently interested to try to register. Totally hopeless. Their registration system would not accept my address yet I have been here 30 years. It put my Post Code many miles from here and when I tried to send them an email using their system it gave me an answer to a question that I had not asked and announced that it had successfully complete its task

    I was and indeed am still interested in having a good look at it but there are some serious problems if its systems cannot handle even a simple task.

  6. Seems easy enough to setup and start selling so will give it a go. I do like the idea and hopefully it can integrate well into how people shop online.

  7. Always good to have more channels available. The fact they have integrated with eSellerPro is a plus and eases the barrier of entry for professional sellers.

    Lets all be be positive about this, afterall it is another avenue to increase revenue.

    Wishing you the best Bubbles.

  8. What is the marketplaces domain? is it really:

    As a company are you driving traffic to the above domain in expectation that people will type in the future directly like they do already for ebay and amazon?

    Or are you picking up trade through google for the long term?

    I am no expert in domains but it does not seem to be very easy compared to competitors.

    My concerns will be if the brand will actually take off as a marketplace, the domain choice is already a concern for me.

    For the amount of time it will take to promote 500-1000 sku to a new site with no history i take all the risk that its a total flop and waste of my time.

    If i had to choose between listing on an alternative amazon site e.g. Amazon DE, listing to the refreshed in a couple of months or this then i am afraid it will come last as time is the one thing we all lack.

    We need to be paid for our efforts in the form of sales and my concern is we will put months of work in and get nothing back on such an unknown platform.

    A new place to sell is great but unless you are 100% advertised on all the existing alternatives i cannot see the uptake being very quick at all.

    I wish the company the best of luck though.

    Perhaps if they can get a few big retail names using them to drive traffic to the site others may follow?

    If anyone from bubbles reads this i would be interested to hear why i should be advertising on your site earlier and why i might get better results or equal results to or Amazon DE, FR, ES etc

    I would also be interested to hear about the domain name.



  9. Having to enter your email address just to get results will be a huge block for most shoppers – would anyone here provide their email address to someone they don’t know so they can see results for something they can already see on Google, eBay or Amazon instantly?

    Email addresses are the new currency in ecommerce and you won’t get people just handing them over in droves in exchange for search results. What is the search abandonment rate for your site Julian? As in people who search and then go no further? I’m guessing it’s massively high.

    Also, if I type in I get a security warning which probably needs addressing.

    As others have said though, good luck, I hope I’m wrong and your business is a huge success. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. My immediate response to my search query is: Where is the results and then “oh, why the hell does it want my email… I get enough crap as it is”

    It does seem like the system should show results and then perhaps provide an option to enter an email address if I want the service as opposed to being forced to provide information I might not necessarily want to.

  11. The domains; and are available. Surely they are more catchy than

    Also the email domain being results in a muddled identity

  12. Bubbles is currently the status of an “Acorn”. It has the potential to germinate and to grow and in time to become a Mighty Oak. Surely this is what we have all been looking for? We have all been saying that we want a Mighty Oak of a Site where Buyers and Sellers can come together and do business.

    Unfortunately any new site has to start as an “Acorn”. It is just not possible for a New Site to come into existence as a huge and successful site on day 1.

    So as I have been one who has long called for a Great New Site I shall be listing items on it to give it a go. Obviously the first thing that any new site needs is Sellers and their Stock. Then it will need to attract Buyers who will buy those goods that we have listed on the site.

    This will take time. To start with those of us who regularly browse Tamebay have been able to read about Bubbles. But while we are mainly Sellers there are some who also buy and sell and a few who only buy. The majority of Buyers probably have not heard of Bubbles. So it will take time for the traffic to build up.

    Hopefully this will happen and in days, weeks, or months Bubbles will be a large successful site. Lets all give it a try and give it long enough to prove itself. In my case I am going to list a number of Books that I do not have elsewhere on Bubbles and give it an extended trial.

  13. It would be good to have Linnworks integrated – I would then use this new marketplace.

  14. Hi Julian, how do I go about setting up a seller account with yourselves via esellerpro?


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