Online Shopping is on a rise as more and more people turn to the internet to buy their books, electronics and apparel. However, as the number of online stores increase multifold, it is increasingly becoming difficuilt for the e-shopper to get the best & reliable deal available. This has opened doors for a new kind of startups – Online Shopping Aggregators. Founded by Madhur Khandelwal and Sushil Choudhari, ShoppingWish aims to be a utility that assists and simplifies buying decisions for online shoppers in India.
Madhur Khandelwal did his BE from BITS Pilani, MS from Texas A&M University and started career working at Microsoft. He was founding engineer at Thefind.com (one of the largest shopping search engines in the US), worked there for 6 years before ShoppingWish happened. Sushil Choudari did BE from COEP Pune, MS from University of Southern California and started career working at Microsoft. He is the cofounder at Dhingana.com (one of the largest music streaming sites in India). Read on to find out what Madhur has to say about ShoppingWish and online shopping aggregation industry.
What is shoppingwish all about?
Ecommerce in India is a relatively new phenomenon. A lot of e-retailers have come up selling products across variety of product categories. As a result, on the one hand users have a lot of options, but on the other hand it can be confusing when they make decisions on what to buy, where to buy and how to buy. Shoppingwish aspires to solve these problems and make online shopping fun and useful. We have just started by introducing a product that solves these problems in a partial way. Over time we will continue to iterate on the product to refine the experience and continue to add new innovative features to keep driving towards our vision of being your personal shopping assistant.
From the website, it caters only for electronics, books and home appliances categories. Is it a conscious decision to do so?
Yes, we decided to start with a limited set of categories and nail the user experience on these. We have learned a lot from the feedback we have received from our users so far. Over time, you will see more categories being added to the site.
When I try to search a product and select an online retailer, it takes me there only to find that stock doesn’t exist. Is there a way to let the consumer know the live-stock-update from your website?
We do show “Out of Stock” when we find that the product is out of stock on retailer’s site. However it may be the case that the product you were looking at recently went out of stock and we didn’t refresh our database since then. We are making our systems more and more efficient and you will definitely see us getting closer to real-time updates over time.
Tell us the USP of Shoppingwish when compared with other price comparison engines around.
[pullquote align=”right”]If you look at it today, comprehensiveness in our database in terms of number of stores, coupons, products, price points stands out.Our vision though is to be your personal shopping assistant.[/pullquote] Living up to that promise is a tall order in that we have to help our users in all phases of their shopping process. Some of the existing players are doing a good job in solving some specific use-cases, however we think that there is room for lot of innovation in areas such as product suggestions, gift ideas, knowing when is the right time to buy, post-purchase support etc. We are just starting, but we think that we have some interesting ideas in these areas that will make our product very unique and useful.
What are the challenges you’ve faced while trying to tie up and aggregate information from so many sources?
The technology has to keep up with changes happening to sites all the time that we scrape to make sure that our products database is comprehensive and exhaustive. We also aggregate coupons, specifications and product details from many different sites, so we have to ensure the accuracy of data that we get from so many different sources. Good thing is that we are taking the time to build solid technology foundation that will allow easy expansion in to more product categories and more data sources.
Tell us how your typical day looks like. What keeps you going through tough phases in startup life?
Typical day consists of meeting with product team to brainstorm new ideas and ensure effective implementation of ongoing projects.[pullquote]What keeps us going is that we are building something that has the impact of affecting people’s life in a positive way[/pullquote]. Meeting with marketing team to discuss new ways of reaching out to new users and coming up ways of inviting current users back to the site. Every once in a while we meet and discuss finances, high level strategy and partnerships.
What is your advise for all wannabe e-commerce entrepreneurs?
You recently received Angel funding. In what way would the funds be used?
To accelerate product development and invest in marketing. We have hired a solid team consisting of engineers, designers and people with expertise in online marketing. Expect to see changes that take us closer to our vision of shopping assistant – mobile offerings, innovative features that make the experience of shopping smooth and hassle-free and of course more product categories.
TTP’s take on ShoppingWish
We find some things done very well at ShoppingWish. Firstly, they restricted themselves to few niche areas to establish customer trust. For a given product search, Price Trends will show the lowest online price for this product in the last 3 months. Along with this, product specific coupons are a big added advantage as it helps consumers to make decisions instantly. They also place orders on customer’s behalf and let them decide on the payment options. With the angel funding, we hope ShoppingWish helps customers to make even better shopping decisions.