Our Thesis at Carted

Holly Cardew
5 min readMay 17, 2023

We believe these things to be true.

  1. Shoppers are passionate about the products and brands they love, not where they go to buy them. They actively seek out value for money, want to make informed decisions, and demand increasingly more convenience — particularly in their digital lives.
  2. Meeting shoppers where they are, by bringing commerce out to the vast majority of digital surfaces that are not ecommerce websites, means shoppers can buy anything, anywhere, whenever they see it. Contextual commerce is commerce unbounded, and the future of shopping.
  3. Those digital surfaces that comprise the vast majority of the internet, our platforms, are searching for ways to create new — or bolster existing — revenue streams and want to create deeper connections with their audiences.
  4. Commerce has always been an option for platforms to solve those needs, but never in a way that made sense as a low-lift addition to an existing business model. Traditionally, incorporating commerce has always meant going all-in as a merchant (including all that it entails) or missing out entirely. And, with the ecosystem so fragmented, platforms are not able to devote the resources needed to build new solutions to do it differently.
  5. Traditional merchants — particularly brands — still have an important role to play in this new world. They are, after all, the ones bringing new products into existence. But that doesn’t mean they need to be devoting as much time and resources as they do now on distribution and finding new customers.

Shopping should be better.

A fragmented, merchant-led commerce landscape means shoppers find it difficult to discover and buy the right products for their needs at the best value. It’s no surprise — commerce infrastructure has always been built to serve the needs of merchants; to enable them to create their own siloed shopping experience for their own brand.

What’s needed is a paradigm shift where the needs of shoppers are kept at the forefront, and the emphasis on and distinction from one merchant to the next is diminished.

However, because there has never been a universal language of commerce that brings shoppers, products, and merchants together, no one has brought this to life. Yet.

At Carted we see the world differently.

We see a world where the merchant is no longer the only focus for commerce innovation.

The problems we’ve described above are not problems that merchants have. They are problems that shoppers have.

We are creating a new ecosystem where shoppers are at the center, and non-traditional commerce platforms become the new vehicles for the world’s best contextual shopping experiences.

Hello, Carted.

Carted’s mission is to connect shoppers to every product on the planet — however they like to shop.

Carted collects, standardizes, and connects all of the world’s products — billions of products from millions of merchants — into a single source of truth. With some magic and secret sauce we make that data searchable, personalized, shoppable — and revenue-generating. This is the Carted API.

We provide the world’s most powerful and exceptional shopping experience. And, because it’s accessible through an API, that experience can be surfaced through any digital platform to bring shopping to shoppers where they spend their time.

The platforms can take advantage of our API to build a shopping experience in their own app is great, but we don’t solve shopper problems by solving problems for platforms. It kind of works the other way around — we solve platform problems (higher commissions, higher conversion, higher engagement, and more) by solving shopper problems (and making them want to purchase).

And while they don’t know it yet, Carted will become the ultimate channel for brands; a digital megaphone that brings their products to every corner of the planet.

Imagine a world where shoppers can browse and checkout instantly when they’re inspired by a product on a social media post or while chatting with a friend in a messaging app. That’s the future we’re building.

Imagine shoppers finding the exact product they want through a personalized search engine, without the hassle of opening multiple browser tabs and hunting for the best deal. That’s the convenience Carted offers.

Imagine platforms keeping users engaged by providing seamless and enjoyable shopping experiences, all without leaving the platform. That’s the power of Carted.

Carted’s vision is hugely ambitious.

If you know and understand the commerce infrastructure — or lack there of — that exists today then you know just how ambitious this vision truly is.

Carted’s full vision involves a mix of capabilities, some more foundational than others, that combine to create the new, delightful shopping experiences that benefit the lives of shoppers, and incentivise developers to build with Carted’s API.

Our ‘big bet’ is that our vision can be achieved without merchant opt-in. We’ll never “organize the world’s products into the largest searchable, shoppable database” if we must have merchant opt-in for it to work. Solutions to hard problems should not require merchant integrations, and any value we provide to merchants and brands should only be as a side effect of achieving our vision.

To Carted, merchants are suppliers and partners, not customers.

So… where to start?

To visualize the concept, we can think of Carted’s technical roadmap as a series of layers, where the underlying technology unlocks the capabilities demanded by our vision.

Our technical roadmap

Carted’s (very) high level technical roadmap

We identified those foundational capabilities as:

  • A checkout that can facilitate placing orders and payments on a digital surface that is not the stock-holding merchant’s website.
  • The ability to add merchant support at scale with no-involvement integrations.
  • The ability to ingest and use product data in a standardized format.
  • The ability to use affiliate links within the checkout flow to provide a monetisation opportunity.

Today, our API can pull in live product data, checkout, earn affiliate commission from millions of stores — all with no involvement from the merchants. We also enable multi-merchant checkout, finally bringing together these siloed experiences into a single shopping destination.

Carted Elements make our capabilities accessible via a front-end UI library that creates an on-site checkout experience in minutes without the complexity of a full API integration.

With Elements, our customers can turn supported affiliate links into interactive, shoppable products within their own website and earn affiliate revenue while also reaping the benefits of user retention and first-party data. Our real-time product data also means that Elements customers can display fresher products to their users, as well as richer product details including variants.

For shoppers, Elements is a first step towards consolidating the process of online shopping into the digital experiences where they already spend their time. Our multi-merchant checkout means that shoppers can place orders for products from multiple merchants by completing a single checkout flow.

And… where to next?

As we move further into 2023, we will continue our approach of working on the foundational layers of our technical roadmap.

Bringing standardization and organization to the world’s products is how Carted transforms shopping. By creating connections and relationships between products across merchant boundaries, we can begin to address the product discovery challenges that are at the core of exceptional shopping experiences.

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Holly Cardew

Building solutions for the next generation of shopping