Maggie Adhami-Boynton: meet the woman behind one of the largest live shopping e-commerce apps
Marcy Paulson talks to ShopThing founder and CEO Maggie Adhami-Boynton about the platform that is changing how we shop for luxury fashion
Adhami-Boynton’s career was on a successful trajectory in the tech sector. In 2018, she was scaling one of Canada’s most-awarded mobile app agencies, Plastic Mobile, as vice-president of operations. In her free time, however, she was scrolling Instagram to keep tabs on the fashion industry. By chance, she stumbled across a trending Asian market that finally allowed her to marry her background in technology with her passion for fashion and style retail.
‘One day, I came across a personal shopper on Instagram posting in real-time from incredible New York boutiques, outlet malls, and sample sales,’ she says. ‘I was instantly addicted. I couldn’t stop thinking about the concept of being able to shop live in international stores I had never been able to access.’
The emerging trend Adhami-Boynton discovered was known as “live shopping” and was taking Asian e-commerce by storm. Live models curated luxury collections for their online followers in real-time, giving them the opportunity to purchase products via the internet.
Adhami-Boynton’s research brought her to Taobao—the second most-visited website in Asia. Even though she could not understand a word the influencers were saying, she watched for hours as they sold everything from cars to clothing. One thing she knew was tech, and she quickly discovered there were no comparable platforms in the North American market. It also re-ignited her love of fashion that was instilled in her at a very young age. ’My mom is the most fashionable person I know,’ Adhami-Boynton recalls. ‘You know that saying, ‘It’s better to be over-dressed than under-dressed — that’s her. She inspired a love of fashion in me that’s never faded.’
ShopThing adapts live shopping to the North American consumer
Adhami-Boynton’s work at Plastic Mobile was an ideal springboard into live shopping. ‘At Plastic, created mobile apps for Canada’s largest banks, restaurants, and loyalty programmes,’ she explains. ‘I spent ten years working on every aspect of mobile product technology, including ideation, design, strategy development, launch, and rollout.’
Thanks to Adhami-Boynton’s tech experience, ShopThing launched on Black Friday in 2019 and has shown rapid growth each year. She credits much of the platform’s success to ShopThing’s influencers. ‘Our influencers offer a genuine experience,’ she explains. ‘They walk into the stores that speak to them and model selections authentic to their personal taste. Consumers follow four or five of these influencers whose styles resonate with their own. They know the influencers on our platform are authentically curating their style, and that’s what draws them to live shopping.’
While several platforms are also attempting to establish live shopping in the North American market, Adhami-Boynton chooses to differentiate from the competition. ‘We have been thoughtful about how we introduce live shopping to North America because we know that the consumers here are not the same as those in Asia,’ she remarks.
ShopThing’s influencer approach offers curated content but diverges slightly from the live experience. ‘Our influencers create short video clips as opposed to talking at a tripod for hours,’ Adhami-Boynton explains. ‘Think TikTok, not QVC. We are that platform people check right before going to bed and right when they wake up.’
What’s next for Adhami-Boynton and ShopThing?
ShopThing has exciting updates in the pipeline. The company recently raised $10 million to complete its Series A financing. That milestone means massive growth is in store. ‘You’re going to see a lot more influencers on the platform and a lot more markets in the United States,’ Adhami-Boynton predicts. ‘In the next 14 to 18 months, we are looking to go global.’
The brand is also launching a membership programme this month. Joining will allow access to perks, including member-exclusive events, several returns each month, and the ability to hold items in their cart while checking out. ‘We will be the first live shopping platform to launch a membership component,’ Adhami-Boynton says. ‘Because we are offering premium luxury items on sale, things sell out very quickly. Let’s say we have access to a warehouse sale with limited quantity, but the prices are incredible. Turning that into a member-exclusive event means our members aren’t competing with hundreds of thousands of other people for those products.’
Adhami-Boynton follows her first passion into the future
Adhami-Boynton realizes a love of fashion can appear shallow at first glance. As a child, her mother introduced her to a deeper side of the industry, and she is determined to share that with other women. ‘Everyone creates their own style,’ she says. ‘When I look good, I feel good. Looking the way I want to look empowers me to be the person I want to be. Fashion even allows us to make political or personal statements with the things we wear. We’re giving people the confidence to feel their best and be the most confident versions of themselves.’
ShopThing is opening the door to élite fashion products in a non-threatening way. ‘As a first-time luxury fashion buyer, going into a high-end store can be an incredibly intimidating experience,’ Adhami-Boynton admits. ‘It feels stuffy, and the prices are always hidden. It’s meant to be an exclusive club. I’m proud to be taking fashion to the masses and making it more inclusive.’
To learn more about ShopThing and how to download to your smartphone, visit their website here or follow them on Instagram.