(photo credit: REUTERS)
Over the past few years, Internet users throughout the world have been spending
ever more time on Facebook, and the numbers are continuing to grow as
smartphones and tablets that enable people to connect through social networking
from anywhere become more prevalent.
And like in every other situation in
life, advertisers are trying to reach this audience and to search for ways to
create a relationship with it, including on Facebook. Methods range from
contests with prizes, through lively dialogues, to truly complex marketing
methods, as advertisers seek to reach the huge number of Internet users hiding
behind the “likes.”
Sortal Commerce Ltd., founded in 2010 by CEO Ami
Meoded and CTO Meir Tseitlin, aims to assist advertisers in reaching Facebook
users through sales platforms. Sortal is a mixture of a virtual store within
Facebook and a tool to foster customer engagement.
Sortal wants to
monetize Facebook fans through a virtual store within the social network. The
goal is to keep users on Facebook, rather than redirect them to a brand’s own
website, says Meoded, a former IAF squadron commander and vice president of
Clasikaletet, a children’s music company.
“We are more than just a store
within Facebook,” he says. “The idea is to provide a tailored shopping portal
that efficiently uses social information, involves the customers and creates
‘ambassadors’ for brands who will bring in their friends and more
Sortal offers a variety of social shopping features on
Facebook, such as buying a present for a friend without having to know the
recipient’s address (the recipient chooses which address should be used), or
group purchases at discount prices (based on the size of the
There are also options for bids, such as negotiating with a brand
to reach the buyer’s target price, and receiving notification when the price
reaches that amount.
There is also a Facebook membership club where
preferred customers can receive special discounts or credit to purchase products
Discounts are offered to preferred members on the basis of
various criteria, such as the number of their friends and prior
“Sortal’s platform enables a connection between a brand’s
physical customer club and a Facebook customer club by crossreferencing the
data, such as email address, residence or phone number between the databases,”
Sortal’s products rely on the ecommerce platform of Magento
Commerce Ltd., a Los Angelesbased company founded by Israeli expats CEO Roy
Rubin and CTO Yoav Kutner, who sold the company to eBay Inc. for $100 million in
Sortal has raised $500,000 from a private investor and is currently
planning another financing round. The company has opened a sales office in the
US, and it also operates in Germany and the UK.
customers include Orange franchisee Partner Communications Ltd., travel agency
Daka 90 Ltd. and Strauss Group Ltd. For the Israeli distributor for Panasonic
Corporation, Sortal provides a platform for authorized dealers to independently
“The idea isn’t to make it easier for marketers to develop
a Facebook application themselves, but to benefit from Panasonic’s application
while offering their own prices to customers,” Meoded says.Globes:
What’s your business model?
Meoded: “We sell user licenses for social e-commerce
platforms to companies engaged in social media that advise brands on how to
operate there, such as Talking Heads, Blonde 2.0 and Rahav Social
Media.How did you coin the name?
“Sortal is a combination of social and
portal, to connote a social portal.”