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Gorilly :: The World is your Showroom

by , April 2, 2015

Picture this:

A truck rolling through San Francisco, a logo you’ve never seen on one side and a window through the other. If, as the truck roars past, you managed a peek through the glass you’d see not cargo but wood paneling and shelves, bags and iPad cases.

You might say to yourself “It almost looked like the inside of a store…” You might be curious. You might chase after it.

The truck would pull up wherever it pleases and you’d arrive, panting and sweating, just as it threw down its back door. Someone would smile and invite you in. The walls would be lined with a curated collection of high-end products for you to prod and nudge.

“This is the future of showrooming,” you’d be told.

This ain’t your grandpappy’s grocery truck. This is Gorilly. A fresh new start-up. And they want to change the way you shop.

The truck would pull up wherever it pleases and you’d arrive, panting and sweating, just as it threw down its back door. Someone would smile and invite you in. The walls would be lined with a curated collection of high-end products for you to prod and nudge.

Gorilly

This is the future of showrooming…

Rescuing retail

Here’s the thing: shopping can be depressing. Take the mall: that overstuffed, overlit hellscape dedicated to mass consumption. No clocks, no natural light… it’s not exactly conducive to a human experience.

Now imagine those times you have had a nice time. The store was quiet, the person serving you was relaxed, they seemed to care about the things on offer.

Remember that? Remember how much better you felt about whatever it was you bought? It’s enough to make capitalism seem like a great idea after all.

The internet has done some things well: you can find dozens of opinions on a slew of products and you have about as many conversations. But that doesn’t replace seeing something you want in person and having a real-time chat to someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Imagine you could get that anywhere, anytime, not just in a store.

That’s what Gorilly wants for you.

The internet has done some things well: you can find dozens of opinions on a slew of products and you have about as many conversations. But that doesn’t replace seeing something you want in person and having a real-time chat to someone who knows what they’re talking about.

Gorilly

Beginnings

The aforementioned truck was just the first step in their plan to change shopping – it got products to the people without the limitations of a brick and mortar shop.

The approach is right there in the name. Gorilly was “originally a play on the term ‘guerrilla marketing’” because they were “hustling around talking with people on the streets” about the products they were showcasing, says Hollis Kelley, Gorilly’s co-founder.

Gorilly

“We wanted people to try great products that they typically could not find in stores. So we invented a promo code model that didn’t need permits.”

“People liked what we were doing. We heard over and over again – ‘I’ve looked at a [product] online and wanted to see it in person first.’” Then they’d leave the showroom and buy direct from the manufacturer using Gorilly’s code.

This did one vital thing: it let Gorilly measure their success.

The model worked. Now they had to take it further. It was time to ditch the truck.

We wanted people to try great products that they typically could not find in stores. So we invented a promo code model that didn’t need permits.

Gorilly

Upping the Ante

So they launched a web service. It takes their “try products in person before buying from manufacturers’ websites” approach and allows for essentially limitless scale by connecting like-minded people.

“We realized [our patrons] shared the same standards [and] passion as us,” says Kelley. “We couldn’t help but think to use this energy to develop a sharing economy platform that gives back to the customers, reaches new customers, and changes the way people shop.”

“Passion” is the key word there. Gorilly realized their visitors cared about the products on show as much as they did. Why not harness that?

Think of it this way: who’s going to sell you something – a shop clerk or a friend who already loves something? There’s a reason companies like word-of-mouth marketing.

(The opposite is also true: who’s going to warn you off something if the product isn’t up to snuff?)

So Gorilly came up with “Product Gorillys” (PGs).

A PG is a “‘passionate fan or super fan” of a product. Say you want to check an item out – say, one of Topo Designs’ bags. You head over to Gorilly, look up the bag and then see if there’s a PG nearby.

You get in touch, arrange to meet and they show you the bag – the world becomes your showroom. Gorilly generates a promo code afterwards. You use that to buy the bag and both Gorilly and the PG get a kickback.

“We realized [our patrons] shared the same standards [and] passion as us,” says Kelley. “We couldn’t help but think to use this energy to develop a sharing economy platform that gives back to the customers, reaches new customers, and changes the way people shop.”

Gorilly

The model seems to work: “Many of our PGs are simply passionate about their products and want to share their experiences with others,” says Kelley. “I was a PG for a brand and my interaction was great. We met at a coffee shop deep in the Misson [San Francisco], talked for 10 minutes, he checked out the bag, he was stoked on the whole idea.”

The system resonates with people. After all, “it’s in human nature to want to share things you love.”

Gorilly

Gorilly

Helping Shoppers Help Themselves

Shopping is stressful at the best of times. You’re parting with your money on the assumption – or hope – what you buy will do what it’s supposed to for quite a while.

“Most of the products on Gorilly are $200 and up – reaching $20,000 for furniture – so taking the time to make a smart decision is important for shoppers. And customers have told us that being able to ask questions in person and see products in use, and not necessarily as brand new items, is helpful for making their decision.”

Customers have told us that being able to ask questions in person and see products in use, and not necessarily as brand new items, is helpful for making their decision.”

Gorilly

Gorilly isn’t about quick fixes or below-average goods:

“What got this whole thing started was our passion for GREAT products products that are wonderfully-designed and constructed, last, and get better with age. So we handpick products that we like, and we provide shoppers with a platform to make their own decisions, using the help of existing product owners.”

More than that, it’s about relationships between people and between people and brands.

“We do a lot of research on the brands we ask to join Gorilly, and love to hear suggestions. If we hear from a passionate fan that they would like to see a brand added that’s a good start,” says Kelley.

That’s where you come in, by the way: “Topo Designs was our first bag company, and we would love to add more great bags to complement them.”

We handpick products that we like, and we provide shoppers with a platform to make their own decisions, using the help of existing product owners.”

Gorilly

Talking Shop

We’re a pretty talkative species, all things considered. People seem to gravitate towards people and communities that are similar to themselves. I like bags so I review them; you like bags so you read about them and tell me when I’m wrong. Now here we are.

Gorilly takes that one step further. It wants to make it easier to meet people using kit you want – it’s like online dating for shopping.

Give it a try. Suggest a few bag brands, look up a few PGs. You might learn something new about a bag you’ve been chasing; you might even make a new friend.

Gorilly

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