Ex-Yahoo execs launch India’s first comprehensive connected e-commerce experience
There’s a new shopping app in town,
“One of the most important components of making a purchase decision is communication. It could be in the form mutual consent, practical opinion, emotional validation or additional suggestion”, Raj Ramaswamy CEO ShopInSync says.
Raj Ramaswamy, ex- Product Management and Revenue Executive at Yahoo and colleague Ashish Parnami, ex-Product and Engineering leader at Yahoo came together to build the app and cater to the unique needs of the Indian online shopper.
ShopInSync is currently available on Android from today. The iOS version will launch soon. The fate of the desktop version depends on feedback and demand.
BI India chats up with this CEO Raj Ramaswamy to find what got him going on the idea:
When did this start?
We started working on the principle design and development in July 2015. The company is currently headquartered in San Francisco. However, we also have an office in Bengaluru.
People can always use WhatsApp to chat about purchases, can’t they?
That’s actually one of the most basic questions we asked ourselves - why would anyone not use WhatsApp. Ours is a rich and deeply integrated shopping experience that’s more tuned towards shopping. There are no hassles whatsoever of sharing web links. Recommendation becomes a problem then. It takes 18-25 screen taps to recommend something else. On our app it hardly takes two.
Would you still be able to do price comparisons if Flipkart, Snapdeal or Amazon decides to go app only?
Absolutely. While we don’t really use web crawling, but we are deeply integrated to the data feeds of these companies. So whether they go app only or not, it actually doesn’t make a difference.
Won’t it help if you synced a user’s search history with that of Amazon, Flipkart or Snapdeal?
As time passes, more and more players would be open to share more user data with third party players. That would help us enhance our user experience.
Why would I like to be limited to a Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal?
We’re actively talking to other players to expand our reach. Many companies are open to partnerships. However, we thought it was best to start with the big three.
If I were Flipkart/Snapdeal, why would I like to talk to you?
As a partner, we’re actually driving traffic to these sites while offering a more comprehensive experience to the end-user. It’s a win-win, really.
Are you worried about the limited real estate most budget smartphones offer?
People would have access to better smartphones as processing power and memory gets cheaper over time.
There are some fundamental pain-points that we solve. Even if every player had the built-in chat function, we still have the most comprehensive database you can choose from to pick the best product.
We have a self-learning algorithm that checks for exact models and similar models. That way we can scale it.
The app looks much like a marketplace. Was it a conscious decision?
Of course. Our focus was on providing a consolidated and social shopping experience.
Are you allowing image search/bar code search?
Search is an important component in shopping. We’ll support text and voice search at launch and eventually scale to several others. As we go on we’ll scan big data dumps to analyze the most discussed products of each category to help in product discovery.
The commission model has been the primary way of monetization for most comparison-based websites. Is that the only one you’re looking at?
We’re starting out with a commission-based revenue structure. However we’re open to relevant product listing ads and premium placements.
Are you potentially looking at designing a web version?
Of course. we want to be where the consumers are. In fact larger screens might have inherent limitations, but they offer larger screen estate.