Talk about reinventing the wheel. Meet Shark Wheel, a company that has literally invented a wheel that’s not round and added some innovation to the eCommerce space by partnering with a new one-click checkout system.
Shark Wheel is a wheel manufacturer. In that process has entered the business of all things that use them. It makes skateboards, contributed new wheel designs to farming, printing, luggage companies and the U.S. military all through an entire new design for what was once the simplest of shapes. In fact, while other companies are looking for VC money to grow and innovate, Shark Wheel is funded by the National Science Foundation. But in order to understand it, a very short basic physics lesson is in order.
Shark Wheel COO Zack Fleishman tells PYMNTS that rather than a traditional circular shape, the Shark Wheel uses a sine wave design. It is a hybrid of a sphere and cube and takes on the properties of both shapes when it rolls. The wheels appear as square when in motion from a side view but the wheels feel circular to the rider (or traveler pulling a suitcase). The wheels are made of three strips each; these create a helical shape when they roll, and they form a sine wave pattern. When the wheels make contact with the ground, the user gets speed, better grip, and a smoother ride.
The wheels were initially funded by a Kickstarter campaign that reached nearly eight times its initial goal. Shark Wheel also appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank in May 2015 as the season finale. Now Shark Wheel is in most every business that uses wheels and manufactures its own skateboards, which it sells through its own site. It’s here that some more innovation was needed.
“When we started the company (in 2016) I didn’t know that there was a problem with our checkout system, let alone an option to fix it,” Fleishman says. “Then when we started launching ads on social media and started really hearing from our customers. We found out that our website had too many clicks and the whole checkout process was too long. We were accused of not understanding that people want instant gratification and quick results and they don’t want to waste time and they want just the click of a button to do things. We realized that it was really hurting our sales and it was something that we had to look into and try to find a solution for.”
Enter Fast checkout. Earlier this month the company released its first market-ready version of its checkout solution, for which it received $20 million in funding in March. To use it, a shopper makes a purchase on a site that uses the solution, enters contact information and payment details and clicks to buy the item. From that purchase, they can use one-click checkout at any store with Fast Checkout, regardless of device or browser, and without a password. The solution also provides buyers a convenient, one-stop location to keep track of their purchases, including delivery status and reordering.
Shark Wheel is one of the first clients and is currently at the beginning of its implementation. Fast CEO Domm Holland says he expects to have traction among grocery retailers and other retail categories that have been forced to play catch-up on eCommerce due to the pandemic. He’s seeing a lot of smaller companies that are moving fast to capture the digital shift as well as a lot of bigger companies who need to move a bit slower to catch up with the eCommerce technology menu.
“We see the younger more agile eCommerce startups that can go into platforms like BigCommerce and Shopify, and master … an incredible tech stack very quickly,” he says. “Then we see traditional enterprises sitting on slower moving architecture. They’re harder to move and they’ve typically had to struggle with their customer experiences. They’re the ones who are absolutely feeling like the pressure of needing to do anything to innovate. And they’re the ones who are really killing it more than ever because they understand that their business now relies on eCommerce and if they don’t master it they’re talking about losing 40 percent or even half of their business.”
And for Shark Wheel, the decreased friction for its eCommerce function allows it to proceed with more commerce as it builds the company from skateboards into industrial applications.
“Our near-term focus is building out that skateboard line,” Fleishman says. “But in the background our ultimate goal is to become a household name and to show people that there is an option they never knew in their wheels before and now they’re going to realize that they can actually make a choice. And so we’re bringing not only something incredibly polarizing from an aesthetic point of view, but we’re also bringing performance advantages that have been scientifically proven and being purchased by many Fortune 500 companies for a reason.”