Shustir.com is a website that connects small businesses with consumers who prefer to buy locally, and from independent retailers and professionals. It enables small businesses to set up virtual storefronts to sell their goods and services, improve visibility in search engines, and communicate with prospective customers and clients through community building and social networking.
Co-founders Shulammite Kim and Khanh Pham launched Shustir.com on May 28, 2009. Prior to starting Shustir.com, Kim and Pham were former colleagues in the Lehman Brothers Global Real Estate Group and worked as senior investment professionals for over eight years prior to the firm’s collapse in 2008.
Kim and Pham developed Shustir.com to meet the need of small businesses to have a web presence. Only a reported 44% of small businesses have website even though 92% of all online consumers tend to shop locally (source: WebVisible/Nielsen Online) 1. Despite the recession’s onset, online sales increased in 2008.
Shustir.com is a Web 2.0 marketplace that combines e-commerce functionality with social media and social networking tools to form a platform for small businesses to not only sell their goods and services online to increase their revenues, but also to connect with more consumers beyond their geographic locales and grow their businesses.
The site is geared to help consumers find and buy from local and independent businesses, citing growing desires to keep money in local communities and obtain higher-quality products and services. Studies conducted by Civic Economics have found that spending with local businesses returns a majority of each dollar received back to their own communities.
The site is funded from the principals’ personal savings and a private angel investor.
Products and services
Virtual storefronts and search optimization
Shustir permits small businesses to set up standalone, virtual storefronts on its site that consumers and other businesses can search. Each functions like a mini-website (that can also link to the small business's standalone website) showcasing goods and services through descriptive copy, photos, and video, among other means.
Storefronts are organized by and searched via 45 distinct categories posted on the Shustir.com homepage, including professional services (Advertising, Legal and Accounting, etc.) assorted retail (Food & Drink, Gifts, etc.), Lodging, Health & Medicine, Real Estate and others. Businesses can also be searched geographically, down to the sub-zip code neighborhood level. The site has built-in optimization tools that enhance visibility of each virtual storefront via all major search engines, including Google, Yahoo, and Bing. There is no cost to business owners to set up a search-optimized storefront.
Business Services, Arts, Food & Drink, Wellness & Spirituality, and Fashion & Style are among the most popular categories with storefronts on the site.
Shustir storefronts include social networking tools and interfaces that enable consumers to post public comments, send private messages to business owners, become fans, recommend businesses to others and post ratings. Storefront/business owners can blog on their storefronts; posts can also be found in a central repository on Shustir.com, aggregating all posts.
An optional $25 flat monthly subscription fee enables business owners to create premium storefronts, adding e-commerce functionality directly from their Shustir.com storefront, via Paypal. This enables businesses owners to sell their products and services directly on the storefront as well as access an inventory/product management system, a shopping cart that enables sitewide check-out functionality, a sub-URL address for their business, and other advanced communication tools such as an Event RSVP feature.
Some of the monthly fee for a premium storefront may be recouped by member business from revenues Shustir.com generates from Google AdSense advertising placed alongside their storefronts. Shustir passes 100 percent of that revenue through to premium storefront owners. In addition, Shustir.com does not charge a transaction fee on all products sold.
The site earns revenue through sales of display advertising and monthly premium storefront subscriptions.
- Better Connecticut WSFB Channel 3 (CBS) - July 14th: Shustir.com on Better Connecticut
- USA Today - July 14th: Refrain Your Brain from 'Left' to 'Right' to Fit into New Economy
- smallbizresource.com - June 25th: Co-Founder Shu Kim, Wednesday's Woman
- NY1 - June 17th: Laid-off Duo Creates Virtual Bazaar
- Hartford Courant - June 11th: Recession Spawns Micro-Entrepreneurs
- Minyanville.com, June 4th: The Seven Best Small-Business Websites You've Never Heard Of
- New York Times, June 4th: Small Businesses Are Taking Tentative Steps Toward Online Networking
- Marketwire/Shustir.com Press Release - May 28th 2008: New Online Marketplace Spotlights Small Businesses, Fuels Consumer Movement to Buy From Independents and Locals
- Korea Times - May 8th 2009: Online Business Gets Another Chance