A digital commerce company in Huntsville had its best year in 2021 and is looking for new horizons this year.
CommentSold, founded by Brandon Kruse at business incubator Huntsville West in March 2017, saw its gross merchandise value jump nearly 40% last year to cross the $1 billion mark in 2021.
The company has about 220 employees who mostly work remotely. In January, it also purchased marketing message personalization and scheduling tool Vizzlie for an undisclosed amount.
When asked what CommentSold is, Kruse replied, “I help women sell clothes on Facebook.”
This is how the business started. Kruse’s wife, Amanda Halpin-Kruse, founded Discount Divas, the clothing store that operates with an online presence. Kruse said the platform that became CommentSold was created for Discount Divas and then introduced to the wider market.
The business goes by the name of “comment selling,” when retailers post on social media and allow shoppers to purchase items in real time by typing “sold” in a post’s comments.
“We’re a do-it-yourself QVC platform,” Kruse said. “You can build your own QVC channel from scratch. And we help you manage the entire business, from product selection and purchasing, to inventory management and fulfillment, to by discounts, coupon codes, website, mobile app, comprehensive e-commerce platform, but focused on live selling.
Kruse said he was beginning to suspect the company would cross the $1 billion mark last year, based on its monthly performance. But direct selling has grown exponentially as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused shoppers to seek out products in other avenues.
In March 2020, as companies began laying off and laying off employees from closed offices, CommentSold was able to recruit talent, he said. Then, consumer spending, fueled by federal stimulus funds, breathed new life into retail.
Kruse believes live selling will gain momentum over the next three years as shoppers will be able to see and be drawn to the entertainment value of looking at the products on display.
“I think we’ll look back in five years and it will seem crazy to remember that we just bought clothes on a website from a photo,” he said.
In the fourth quarter of 2021, there were 2.5 million more products featured on live sale than in the same period a year earlier. According to Coresight Research, projections show that this sector will reach $11 billion in 2021 and $25 billion by 2023, matching the growth seen in Asia.