Negotiating a lower price with retailers while shopping online seems unlikely, right? But a new Chicago startup is betting that it’s not.
Treatail, founded by Adam Selsby, makes a web browser extension that allows consumers to request discounts from retailers for desired goods when they’re shopping online. The startup has been operating in stealth mode out of TechNexus since Selsby founded it in 2016. Since launching, the platform has been tested among a small cohort of Selsby’s friends and family.
“It’s a platform where consumers can get unpublished deals and where sellers get to boost profits by getting otherwise lost sales,” Selsby said. “An abandoned shopping cart online doesn’t do anyone any good, so Treatail brings the buyer and seller together for a deal that they’re both happy with.”
The browser extension currently only works with Google Chrome and Firefox, but will expand to other browsers, like Safari, in the future, Selsby said. A mobile app is slated to be available before the year is over.
When requesting a discount on shopping cart items, the consumer can give anywhere from 24 hours to one week for the retailer to make a decision on their request. If the retailer accepts a customer’s request, Treatail receives 5 percent of the transaction.
So far, Selsby said that retailers are cutting deals on 1 in 5 requests made with Treatail, and discounts have ranged from 5 to 25 percent off on a range of items, including paddle boards, sound systems, handbags and jewelry.
“They tend to be bigger-ticket items, where a larger transaction is possible,” Selsby said.
But don’t think you’ll be seeing retailers advertising that they accept Treatail requests. It’s simply not good for business, Selsby said. Additionally, just because one person was granted a deal on an item from a specific retailer, doesn’t mean others are guaranteed to it, too.
“It is an individualized, personalized shopping experience for every customer,” Selsby said.
Treatail, which employs four people right now, has raised an undisclosed amount of money from investors like Dave Bowen, chairman and CEO of Purchasing Platform and a board member at Treatail, Kevin Martin, an associate at Scott Phillips + Associates, and Bill Martin, the co-founder of Shoppertrak, a local retail analytics company that was acquired by Tyco International in 2016.