You don’t have to be an online retailer to recognize that the current climate of the e-com landscape is red-hot right now with no hints of slowing down. Significantly fueled by the lasting effects of Covid’s socio-economic footprint, e-commerce has all but cannibalized the entire consumer market in the last few years. In fact, by the close of this Q4, 2023’s global online market is projected to surpass a staggering $6.3 trillion in revenue. Online consumerism can be so expansive and lucrative, there is little wonder why so many hopeful entrepreneurs flock to the platforms of Amazon, Shopify, and Etsy in hopes of escaping the 9-5 grind and capitalizing on the financial opportunities that the digital market presents.  

But beneath the surface of this thriving industry lies a growing disillusionment among many sellers. They voice concerns over the increasing competitiveness, rising costs, and (perceived) unscrupulous operations of many of the popular marketplaces. Sellers yearn for something new – a fresh perspective with more engagement and opportunity.  

Enter Rivly. In an ecosystem where behemoths like Amazon and Walmart take the lion’s share, Rivly emerges as a beacon of innovation; a champion for sellers who don’t feel seen or heard. Though a massive feat, Rivly owner, Daniel Thompson, is confident that his new marketplace will revolutionize the way online sellers and shoppers do business.  

The Genesis of Rivly: Daniel Thompson’s Vision 

I was excited to sit down with Daniel and get better insight into the new, enigmatic platform I had been hearing about in the e-com community. With Rivly being only weeks away from its official launch, I was honored he found time to let me interview him.  

The first thing I noticed about Daniel was that he didn’t give off that presumptuous, “Silicon Valley” aesthetic you largely find with many entrepreneurs and software developers in the e-com space. He seemed warm, laid-back, and clearly eager to reveal more about his project. The only hint of pretentiousness came in the form of his headshot which initially popped up on our zoom call. I called him out on his cheesy “real-estate” pose, and we had a good laugh, with him concluding that he needed to change the picture soon.  

(The headshot in question.) 

 

After pleasantries, we shifted our focus to the purpose of our call: to delve into the world of Rivly and explore why this new platform had the potential to revolutionize the way online retailers and shoppers conducted business. (Quite a bold claim, I must admit, but I was thoroughly intrigued.) 

But first, I wanted to learn a little bit more about his background. 

Daniel hasn’t always been in e-commerce or sales. His background and original career path (though impressive) were vastly unrelated. Raised in upstate NY, Daniel studied medicine at Albany Medical College and the University of California-Irvine, even completing some clinical training at Harvard Medical School, before landing a career as an E.R. doctor.  

While he thrived in the fast-paced environment – unique only to emergency doctors – the long hours and stress quickly led to burnout. In 2014, Daniel was looking for new ways to diversify his revenue stream. He was intrigued by Amazon’s promising augmentation and lucrativeness, as well as its low barrier of entry. So, he partnered with a buddy and launched an apparel business on the platform. 

By 2019, his online store was so profitable that Daniel retired from the E.R. to devote his time to selling online. He started another private label (PL) brand, which rapidly scaled to mid-seven figures before being acquired in 2021. It was this entrepreneurial journey that laid the foundation for Rivly. 

While Daniel’s online endeavors proved fruitful, he quickly became aware of the seller community’s frustration with Amazon’s pay-to-play ecosystem, rising fees, competing in-house brands, and its lack of seller support. “In 2023, it’s definitely more difficult for new sellers to be able to operate and succeed on the major platforms,” Daniel explains. “The e-com landscape is in dire need of a platform that really understands the needs of both consumers and merchants.”  

Daniel’s mission was clear: to maximize the tailwind of opportunity that e-commerce presented by creating a U.S. seller-centric marketplace.  

What is Rivly? 

“Let’s get to the good stuff,” I say to Daniel as my interview with him progresses. I can tell he’s more interested in talking about what he’s up to now. 

His eyes light up and he shifts forward in his chair. He’s trying to maintain a professional demeanor, but even through the computer monitor, I can feel his excitement. I continue. “What is Rivly and what makes it so unique to other players in the e-com space?” 

Daniel explains that Rivly is the first marketplace built by sellers and designed for U.S.-based businesses.  

Daniel: “Look, behemoths like Amazon and Walmart have done an excellent job at meeting the needs of the consumer market, but over the years, it’s become apparent that they’ve also left some opportunities for a new marketplace. One of the bigger issues is the increasing number of China-based sellers and listing hijackers that make it exceedingly difficult for other sellers to succeed. This hurts honest merchants, and the customer. We’re going to change all that with Rivly.” 

Rivly: Supports American Businesses 

One of those changes includes leveraging what the American shopper wants.  

Daniel: “The data says that over 80% of Americans prefer to support U.S. businesses, and we are giving our customers exactly that. Rivly strictly supports U.S. companies. We have strict prerequisites for selling on our channel and that includes providing a business E.I.N issued by the IRS, a United States mailing address with phone number, and an American-issued I.D. with social security number among other things.” 

Me: “Does that mean all products featured on your site have to be made in America?” 

Daniel: “No. Sellers can source from anywhere in the world, but they need to have their businesses based in the U.S. to meet the needs of our consumers.” 

This makes sense. It wasn’t even two years ago that Amazon shut down over 50,000 Chinese merchant accounts in response to widespread review manipulation and T.O.S. violations. Even with those proactive measures, many American sellers have claimed defeat, as they can’t compete with Chinese businesses that have much different cost structures, operation models, and quality standards (China-based businesses currently account for 63% of all Amazon sellers).  

Sellers will also be happy to know that all employees at Rivly are also U.S.-based, making communication between merchants and Rivly team members productive and frustration-free.  

Rivly: Seller-Owned and Seller-Driven 

At the heart of Rivly is an owner who truly cares about his sellers. He understands the aggravation of selling on a platform that doesn’t seem to support the seller’s needs.  

“We’re capitalizing on the shortcomings of the other players in the industry to build something that is truly unique and very seller-focused, while not losing sight of what our shoppers want,” Daniel affirms. “We’re committed to delivering solutions to those issues and giving business owners the tools they need to succeed. We’ll also modernize the shopper experience, with new features not seen anywhere else.”  

I asked Daniel to specify what features Rivly has developed to ensure sellers have the proper foundation for their online business to succeed.  

He starts ticking off an impressive list: 

  • Systems in place to prevent listing hijackers 
  • The option to fulfill orders themselves or with other 3rd-party logistics solutions, including Amazon FBA centers.  
  • Full account setup and import listings from Amazon or Shopify in under 15 minutes 
  • No Rivly-owned product competition on the platform 
  • Identity-verified product reviews to cut down on fraud and manipulation 
  • Registered brand owners control all the listings of their brand. Resellers must send the brand owner an application for permission to resell.  
  • A live chat option to communicate and better connect with buyers 

    “Basically, we want sellers to feel they have more control over their brands and operations than they do on other platforms.” 

    Rivly: The Community 

    As I interview Daniel, it becomes more and more clear just how passionate he is about merchants having both a voice and a community while utilizing Rivly’s multifaceted and dynamic software.  

    Daniel: “My team and I have asked for a lot of input from our sellers in the community, and we continue to make changes according to their needs.” 

    But don’t expect those modifications to cease once the Rivly platform has gone live in Q4. Daniel anticipates that Rivly will continue to evolve, long after Rivly’s launch. “We’re committed to creating a feedback loop between our customers, our sellers, and our developers.” 

    Me: “Why is community such an important aspect for you?” 

    Daniel: “Think about your favorite coffee shop; about how you love going in there because the baristas all know your name and ask how your kids are doing. They know the way you take your coffee, and if somehow your order gets messed up, they make you a new one and you laugh about it, and you leave feeling good. Wanna know why you feel good? Because it’s no longer about the actual coffee. It’s about the experience. I want everyone on Rivly to have that experience.”  

    Rivly: Advertising and Marketing 

    The coffee shop analogy leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy inside, but you can’t make profits with “feelings.” So, I broach the topic of PPC costs, citing many sellers’ frustration that Amazon’s platform has evolved into a pay-to-play business model. 

    Me: “Particularly in the beginning, how do brands get found in search when there are no reviews, sales history, etc.?” 

    Daniel explains that keyword relevancy will be the initial driving force behind listings showing up in search (that is, until the marketplace gathers more data for their algorithm). Interestingly enough, Daniel explains that Rivly will not be supporting PPC (pay-per-click) or PPI (pay-per-impression) advertising in the beginning.  

    Daniel: “We want to collect organic data and make sure the platform is performing up to our standards before we introduce any form of advertising.”  

    Perhaps more enticing to sellers, Daniel and his team intend to help merchants optimize sales by capitalizing on something that platforms like Walmart and Amazon don’t – the discovery stage of the sales funnel.  

     

    Daniel: “When shoppers jump on Amazon or Walmart, they already have an idea of what they are looking for. At Rivly, we want to really maximize opportunity for sellers by getting shoppers at the initial stages of the sales funnel.” 

    When I ask Daniel to explain what that would look like, he smirks and says we’re still working on that aspect. “I can’t tell you all of my secrets.” 

    Rivly: The Shopping Experience 

    It would appear that Rivly shoppers have just as much to look forward to as sellers. Aside from that feeling of community that Dan so eloquently described when talking about coffee shops, customers can enjoy the following: 

    • Free standard shipping on all purchases 
    • Filter by preferences that matter to you (I.e. made in USA, express shipping, women-owned business, etc.) 
    • Live chat with sellers during store hours 
    • AI-enhanced product search and discovery 
    • Most helpful reviews on Rivly earn daily payouts from Rivly’s revenue sharing creator fund 
    • Shop in virtually every category found on the major platforms 

      Rivly even offers a program similar to Amazon Prime, but where subscribers receive: 

      • Up to 12%+ cash back on all purchases 
      • 25-50% boost to review rewards 
      • Exclusive access to Rivly deals and promotions 

       

       

       Rivly: Insurance Requirements 

      Me: “You know I have to ask you this, Daniel. Does Rivly require its sellers to have insurance?” 

      Daniel: “Not presently. We will eventually when we have everything ironed out. However, as an online seller myself, I would strongly encourage anyone selling on our platform to obtain insurance. This day in age, it’s just a poor business decision to sell without it.” 

      Conclusion 

      As the interview comes to a close, I find myself really excited at the prospect of a fresh, new, American-centric marketplace that’s seller-driven and fosters relationships between shoppers and merchants. Daniel’s passion and fervor for this project didn’t waver once throughout the 30-minute interview, and if Rivly is even half the shopping platform (correction: experience) that Daniel promises, then I think we all can get excited.   

      Things to note about Rivly 

      • Rivly is still in beta testing with over 10,000 brands and 30,000 shoppers. 
      • Rivly is expected to go live in Q4 2023, but sign up before launch to get 6 months free premium membership: Learn more and sign up to sell on Rivly 
      • Rivly has partnered with Ashlin Hadden Insurance as the brokerage firm they trust to send sellers to. Interested in getting a FREE insurance quote for your e-commerce store? Fill out this 10-minute application from Ashlin Hadden Insurance.  

      Author

      • McClain Warren

        McClain comes to the agency with years of knowledge and experience in the marketing and eCommerce world. She loves people (except Bob), networking, and creating eye-catching and intriguing content. She also loves pineapple on her pizza and will fight you if you say it's awful.

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