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Cosmetics retailer Laura Geller Beauty and startup Blucarat are partnering on the next wave of online customer experience — integrating a social community directly into a retailer's product website. Today Blucarat announced Laura Geller has  picked its "socially-enabled commerce solution" to launch a fully integrated social community.

A Leap in Social Commerce

Blucarat's software platform, Blucarat Social, ties together e-commerce with a social community in a cloud-based platform. Customers can use the platform to share questions, product reviews and information, and guide purchasing decisions through a social app that automatically integrates into a retailer's website.

It's all part of the emerging wave of social commerce, in which retailers encourage product users to become their best marketing agents.

Laura Geller Beauty used the platform to launch a community of more than 100,000 “Geller Girls" who can post and answer questions in an online forum, create and share product ideas, chat in real time and interact with one another.

Early results from Laura Geller and Blucarat indicate the approach can boost conversion rates on a product by as much as 49 percent. Blucarat also said by installing its product on Laura Geller's website, it increased traffic by 22 percent.

Jessica Ferro, social media and marketing manager with Laura Geller, said the company was looking for a platform that would enable customers to drive the social strategy.

"Social interaction brings huge value to our robust online commerce strategy," said Ferro in an email. "By driving conversion through conversation, we are not 'turning the customer off' or 'being pushy' – we are allowing consumers to drive the vehicle of conversation and we are rewarding them when they purchase/recruit other consumers to join the conversation."

Ferro said the integration went "very well." The company launched a beta version of the product with a few thousand customers in May.

Blucarat is a relatively young startup but it already has an impressive array of customers. In addition to Laura Geller, the company lists as customers BCBGMAXAZRIA, Shreve, Crump & Low, Harry Winston and 1-800 Flowers, among others.

Roots in NYC

The social software company was incubated in New York City by MDC Partners, a publicly traded company that invests in a portfolio of companies in digital marketing and communications. MDC Partners has a minority interest in Blucarat. Earlier this year, Blucarat raised $1M from private investors.

One investor, Eliot Kang of Inmost Partners, said he liked Blucarat because it takes the integrated social experience to the next level, automating many of the tasks that are typically done manually.

"We looked at a lot of competitors, but lots of them required manual integration," said Kang in a phone interview. "Everybody had bits and pieces but nobody had all of the things that Blucarat does — it's got the capability to bring that social interaction at the product level, I think it's a great opportunity."

Background on Blucarat

Blucarat is led by CEO Tom Kwon, who is also the founder and CEO of Metafect. Previously he was founder and CEO of Altruik, Inc., a firm specializing in product-page optimization.

Inmost's Kang says that Kwon is a proven technology CEO who has "been around since the beginning of the Web. "I think he was helping NASDAQ build Web pages back when it was all just starting in the late 1980s."

Blucarat's Chief Technology Officer (CTO) is Paul Tan, head of development for dotbox, a pioneer in commerce software platforms, before taking his present job. Tan was also the Chief Architect and Lead Developer for Buildinglink, a maker of building management software.

Blucarat Social is now generally available, with pricing starting at $99 per month, based on monthly unique visits.