Author: Anshul Gupta, Founder &CEO, Fabence
Online shopping is child’s play, or so, as claimed by the commercials from Flipkart and Amazon. In the last 5 years India has seen lot of activities in the eCommerce space. Various new companies have started, a few merged, some got acquired and some had to shut their operations. But, we all will agree that if there is any sector which became favourite of both investors and users in the shortest period of time- it is eCommerce.
Currently, Investors are willing to trust the various untapped sectors in India. The blurry beginning of eCommerce is eventually becoming unclouded and organised. The new trend which is fast catching up now is of aggregators which bring the entire ecosystem at one place. Today, there is an overload of information regarding any action a consumer wants to take and very less time; and that is where aggregators play the biggest role. Earlier, users had to go individually to each food store and taste the food but now they have Zomato to see which restaurant is the best to eat. If someone is looking to buy a movie ticket, rather than going to each and every theatre to check for a ticket, one can now check it on BookMyShow.
The essence of aggregators is that since at the basic level they show information under one roof ,any feature they implement instantly can disrupt an entire market. They develop search algorithms that have the ability to extract results out of millions of online data that would be available from the retailers. The quality of the search depends on the tags in entire data at the backend. The better the data at backend is, more relevant are the search results.
Most of the mature aggregators integrate the behavioral search by studying user patterns, also trending the graph for most viewed in search, and some other search features. As they aggregate more sites and move over to Global market, it should improve the search gradually as feeds are more regularized there.
Indian market at present seems to follow the footsteps of global market. Every third search on Google is fashion related, clearly showing the need for people to discover fashion products rather than simply going to one or two particular sites and buying products from there. The US and the UK markets also saw the rise of aggregators as the online shopping experience matured and has quite a few proven models to substantiate that. India today, has various aggregators like MySmartPrice and Price Baba, each catering to a different market and audience which are doing decent traffic and revenues as they all look at de-cluttering the overload of information out there.
So what are the key challenges for the aggregators in the future?
One of the issues plaguing all aggregator sites in the online space is that very few merchant portals have a good updated feed coming in to fill database. So, despite having APIs and XML files from the major players, the updation (in terms of price changes, stockouts etc) remains an issue with quite a few of them.
Secondly, Indian aggregators may need to open purse strings and invest in technology to better search results. Till this happens, the search quality will be no where close to the Google experience, all of us are so familiar with.
What makes fashion aggregators etc. different is the amount of products and the lack of unique product identifiers. This comes as a challenge in building an effective aggregator. An effective aggregator would be the one which will have simple user interface, curated content and personalization as per user’s style. This can be done using store-like interface, algorithms, machine-learning and scalable tech that adapts to users’ tastes to display products and similar items. A completely different approach on content that is shown to users as well as offers & price comparison can be an added advantage.
The future of aggregators like Yebhi, Voonik, Roposo, Wishary, Fabence etc. looks bright however,the key for a platform in this market would be to constantly innovate and improve the discovery experience of a consumer and how one can establish a tighter integration with the vendor site.
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