MDC Partners said yesterday that it has acquired a majority interest in dotbox, a social commerce platform and services provider serving fashion and retail brands.
Dotbox CEO Ashley John Heather helmed a series of startups designed to do what he calls "making life buyable," that is, letting consumers make note of and even instantly buy products that catch their eye while they're web surfing, using mobile devices, watching TV or walking around.
"Catalog-based shopping is dull, the entertainment value has been lost," Heather says. "We bring brands…social commerce thinking and show them how to use technology, whether web-based, mobile or in-store, to help consumers have the shopping experience be more entertaining."
Dotbox's 4CsX platform combines traditional e-commerce features with social media tools, content publishing, and cross-channel engagement.
The company handles all digital media for makeup marketer LauraGeller.com, including its Facebook shopping tab, email marketing, offers, the website and blog. Heather says the company's business has experienced triple-digit growth in the last two years.
Luxury jeweler Harry Winston uses the Crossroads Platform to let web shoppers book in-store appointments. The customer's web activity is shared in advance with the in-store representative so that he or she can present the most attractive products.
Clients of dotbox include 1-800-FLOWERS, for whom it helped execute a "Love Coach" Facebook app last year.
Toronto-based MDC partners, a holding and investment company, has been a regular agency-shopper, sometimes combining properties to extend its geographical reach. In 2010, it purchased Capital C Communications and 72 And Sunny while merging Canada-based Zig with U.S. agency Crispin Porter Bogusky. (CP+B star Alex Bogusky left MDC in July of that year.)
Heather hopes MDC will help dotbox grow and also connect it with other agencies in the family. To date, dotbox has not worked with other MDC agencies, but he said they are in discussions.
"So far, we've worked directly with brands. With MDC, we hope to partner with other agencies that don't have a specific focus on commerce," Heather says. "We provide MDC a firm focused on multi-channel commerce, and we can also take some of the skill sets of the other companies to our clients, like public relations, advertising and media buying."
Heather and co-founder and CMO Zo Bjorgvinsson plan to remain with the company.
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Susan Kuchinskas has covered interactive advertising since its invention. The former staff writer for Adweek, Business 2.0, and M-Business covers technology, business and culture from Berkeley, CA.