Charles, a Berlin-based startup that wants to sell on WhatsApp and other chat apps, offers “conversational-commerce” SaaS for businesses that have raised € 6.4 million in funds.
Under the leadership of Excel and HV Capital, seed funding will be used by the company to scale and meet the current demand for its conversational commerce platform.
Artjem was launched by Weissbeck and Andreas Tussing in 2020 after a year of experimentation by the pair running a store in WhatsApp, enabling Charles to sell products and services through WhatsApp and other chat apps. To increase conversion rates, customer loyalty, and more. Eventually revenue ”.
The SaaS chat app combines APIs, such as WhatsApp and Messenger, with Shop and CRM systems, such as Shopify, SAP, and HubSpot, all delivered through a user-friendly interface. The idea is that it becomes easier for businesses to get their customers on the channels they already use and bridge the gap between sales inquiries and support and actual conversions.
“Traffic” and the ‘conversion’ with it will rapidly move from the streets (retail) and browser / native apps to chat apps, “Webeck says. “Whereby, interactive commerce will be the third major pillar of commerce, connecting all channels together and unlocking the full potential of personalization through the unique identification of customers through their phone numbers”.
This change, argues Charles Founder, creates “tremendous challenges and opportunities” for companies in terms of the customer journey design and tech stack, to date – Asia, on the one hand – primarily tailored around webshops and e-mail has gone.
“Ultimately our technology provides operating systems for companies to overcome this challenge,” Tussing says. “The core of our software integrates the chat app with Shop / CRM in an intuitive interface that puts a human chat sales agent in a center supported by chatbots and AI”.
Excel partner Luca Bocchio says conversational commerce is emerging as an “important channel for brands” and is a trend that will reshape the way brands interact with customers. [This is] Paves the way for possible new category-defining devices to emerge, ”he says, noting that Charles has the potential to be one of those devices.
“When we talk to potential customers it’s mostly existing customer service tools such as Zendesk that are starting to add chat apps as an additional channel,” Weissbeck says, when citing direct competitors. “These tools are usually built on a ‘ticketing’ logic, optimized to resolve customer inquiries as quickly as possible and with a clear focus on sales matters, not sales”.
In contrast, Weisbeck states that Charles is built on a “feed” logic, which shows the customer as an ongoing conversation and an end-to-end relationship – the same way the customer sees it.
“Next we deeply integrate into the store / CRM-backend so that agents have the ease of selling products and creating carts or contracts – all in a very design-driven and intuitive interface for the agent to use. Is fun and puts it. In the center, “says Tussing. “Supported by chatbots, not replaced”.
Meanwhile, the revenue model is fairly simple: businesses pay a monthly base fee to cover Charles’ fixed costs and on top of that the startup makes money on conversions. “We take a small portion of net sales, ensuring that we are co-promoting,” Webeck explains.