Cover Story: Game Changers: MaryAnn Bekkedahl, President and Co-Founder, Keep
Abandoned shopping carts are quite simply costing retailers money. This is a problem that doesn’t play favorites; no online retailer is spared from the plague that are abandoned shopping carts. Well, all except for one. A new mobile fashion app and website is seeking to end the maddening practice — at least for retailers — of consumers filling their carts with product, proceeding to the checkout page and then summarily leaving without making a purchase.
That company is Keep, co-founded by MaryAnn Bekkedahl. Keep offers consumers a single shopping cart for the entire internet. Here’s how it works: users select merchandise from across the web and add it to Keep, which acts as a unified storefront. Once on Keep, users can check out with a single click. Keep stores every users’ credit card and shipping information (they just have to type it on the first transaction). Rather than visiting three different sites and entering your information three different times, you open Keep, shop the web, add what you want to a single shopping cart, and check out with a single click. Consider Keep the Pinterest of mobile fashion apps.
“In 2011, we saw women taking personal control of content on the internet, thanks to the broad appeal of Pinterest, and thought it would be great to leverage that behavior for shopping, a passion of ours," says Bekkedahl. “E-commerce is a fast-growing industry, with little innovation to date, beyond retailers building retailer.com sites. We jumped in with what we think is a game-changing innovation and, thankfully, women in our target demographic love it!”
Content to Commerce
Bekkedahl’s background is in publishing — she spent nearly 10 years in executive positions for media brand Rodale — but she was ready for a new challenge. Yet it was the experience she gained at Rodale that paved the way for Keep’s innovative business model.
Bekkedahl didn’t stray far from her publishing as she sought to grow Keep into a viable business. Getting positive coverage from lifestyle publications such as The Huffington Post, Wired, Lucky, Racked, among others was a priority for the company.
“As primarily a fashion/style-oriented product, hearing from relevant, credible sources like journalists and bloggers gave women great motivation to give Keep a look,” notes Bekkedahl.
In addition to free marketing opportunities such as press coverage, Keep has used paid marketing to grow its brand. The company has seen traffic gains from paid Pinterest campaigns — i.e., paying highly followed pinners to pin from Keep — and paid Facebook efforts have consistently delivered new and high-converting downloads. Somewhat surprisingly, Keep is also using offline channels to market its service. The company has tested a mix of brand awareness and direct response advertising, including market kiosks.
Planning for the Future
Keep was founded on the power of virality, and it’s pinning its future growth on it as well. Consumers continuing to share the products and experiences they enjoy with Keep is how the business will grow.
“We’re strong believers that great products get shared; and we see our shoppers sharing their great experiences with Keep every day,” says Bekkedahl. “The right mix of consumer advocacy, earned and paid media, and the occasional home run in the App Store — for example, being featured on the homepage — are certain to keep our membership numbers growing.”
To prepare for future growth, Keep has invested time and resources into building the right team. The company seeks out passionate people who are committed to reinventing the way women shop on mobile devices. Furthermore, you need to have a sense of curiosity to work at Keep.
“Curiosity matters at startups … a lot,” Bekkedahl says. “We’ve actually ‘fired’ candidates in the interview; meaning, if they hadn’t set up a Keep account in preparation for the meeting, the interview was over. That demonstrates not only arrogance, but a lack of curiosity, so, end the discussion and move on.”
Those candidates who have made it through the interview process have formed a great team worth “Keep”-ing.