Online2Offline commerce is heralded as the next big thing in the ecosystem. It is not only bridging the gulf between the new-age online stores and the traditional brick and mortar shops but also acting as an instrument to rule out the general skeptical tendencies of shoppers while buying products online.
Founded in April 2015 by Suresh Kabra, Shishir Dubey and Basabjit Dey, PriceMap is a mobile app which enables users to discover products at brick and mortar stores in their vicinity at the best prices. It is providing digital connect to the local store and completing the cycle of “bricks to clicks and back to bricks”.
The startup is based out of the National Capital Region.
Suresh had a personal experience wherein he bought a laptop table from Snapdeal. Over the weekend, Suresh had a chance to visit Panchkuian market in Delhi and was shocked to see the same table from same manufacturer being sold at 30% lower price. This triggered the thought that online is not necessarily the best and cheapest option all the time. It is the convenience which brings people to online shopping in the first place and “what-if” we can bring the same convenience to brick and mortar retail. The idea was further validated by a thinkwithgoogle post, where Google has found, through customer surveys, that 3 out of 4 shoppers actually prefer to buy from a local shop provided they are made aware of the following facts:
- Is the shop carrying the merchandise the shopper is looking for?
- If yes, what’s the best price they are willing to offer?
- What else they may have which goes along with the merchandise?
- Where is the shop located
- What are the timings of the shop
PriceMap answers these queries for a shopper in real time.
How does the App work?
PriceMap is based on a very simple paradigm, Search -> Share -> Shop. A shopper searches on-line for the product he/she wants to buy on any of the popular ecomm portals like Amazon, Snapdeal etc. Once they decide what they want to buy, they share the link with PriceMap app installed on the phone. Then using the app, they identify the city markets where they want to search for this product and a time deadline by when the retailers must respond back.
As shopkeepers respond back to the customer’s query, the shopper gets to know which shop in which market is having what they want (or something similar) and is offering what deal. So essentially, as stated above, PriceMap is a product discovery platform which brings the convenience of on-line shopping to physical retail.
What problems is it trying to address?
The app is addressing multiple problems for both buyers and sellers. On the customer’s front, it is addressing the issue of product discovery. With PriceMap, a buyer need not hop shop-by-shop to just find what he/she is looking for, as the app allows one to discover what they exactly want and where the product is available at the best price. This helps customers to economize on their time and energy spent on shopping.
For sellers, PriceMap is bridging the gap between online customers and offline retailers. It allows brick and mortar stores to have an online presence with zero additional IT costs. Sellers don’t need to upload any product images, descriptions, prices and inventory level. There is no MIS required for integration with PriceMap. It thus, drives footfalls to the shops.
PriceMap has targeted multiple revenue streams which will come from sellers and advertisement.
How is it different from its competitors like Fashalot and Wooplr?
Answering to this query, Suresh maintained that both Fashalot and Wooplr and fashion centric. When Fashalot is aggregating deals from local stores (and there are many such players), Wooplr is playing on social networking to recommend fashion trends.
He added, “PriceMap is very different. We don’t aggregate deals from local retailers and present any new catalogue to the buyer. We believe that buyer already has access to world’s largest catalogues via sites like Amazon, Flipkart etc. and they don’t need yet another catalogue (which may not be very creditable) to search through. We let shopper search on-line for the product they want to buy and then get them the very best deal from local markets.
Unlike other aggregators who require retailers to upload deals on a regular basis, PriceMap requires zero IT support from retailers. Retailers are good to go as soon as they install the app. Due to this very lean model, retailers love PriceMap.”
PriceMap has more than 800 registered sellers across categories like watch, mobile, footwear, home appliances, kitchen appliances, home audio-video, digital camera.
Buyer side, which was launched in Sept, has close to 10K users in less than six weeks.
Currently, PriceMap is bootstrapped by the founders. But it is in advanced discussions for seed funding.
Founders’ Opinion on the Scope in this Sector
India is home to an estimated 12 million mom-and-pop stores and they dominate the country’s $600 billion retailing business. Almost 99% of shopping is still offline in India because customers still want to touch-and-feel, which can only happen at physical stores. The retail outlets have already made the investments, and now need online demand generation.
PriceMap is targeting this sector and offers a solution which brings the convenience of online shopping to brick and mortar stores. It generates footfalls in the physical store from buyers who would typically buy online.