ShopMate, founded in 2015,strives to blend the best features of online and offline retail market in order to give their users a superior shopping experience. The Delhi-based startup promises to ease out online shopping juxtaposed with the touch, feel, and experience of a traditional offline store. Sambhavi Sinha, CEO of ShopMate, walks us through the core idea behind this young startup, and how it is going to change the way we shop.
Could you please shed some light on online-to-offline (O2O) commerce and how it is a big part of ShopMate’s business model?
According to recent studies carried out by Consumer Barometer, over 60 percent of consumers research a product online before going to a store to make a purchase. So, if we bridge the gap between browsing the product online and physically surveying from shop-to-shop in order to get the best price and check for bargaining possibilities, it turns out to be an entirely trackable revenue stream for business owners.
ShopMate promotes offline shopping by providing local sellers an opportunity to compete with other online and offline vendors while ensuring customers save time and energy,usually spent in scanning through different shops to search for the best offers. We are India’s leading website that facilitates group-buying. At ShopMate, you get group-discounts and attractive offers from trusted, nearby sellers on 100 percent genuine products—all from the comfort of your home.
We are of this opinion that the idea behind O2O commerce is here to stay. Despite recent developments made by companies, the technology is yet to perfectly align with consumer-shopping trends and the needs of business owners.
How is ShopMate different from numerous other price-comparison portals?
ShopMate offers a virtual marketplace where you can collectively bargain for a product and pull the overall price down; and the best part is that we will do all the work for you. All you need to do is book the product of your liking online, and make the final purchase from a local vendor who has confirmed your order.
None of the other hyper-local players work on the concept of group-buying. This unique concept differentiates us from rest of the price-comparison portals, as group-buying provides you with the advantage of bulk-pricing and a negotiation platform where sellers compete amongst themselves to capture customers in groups.
Please elaborate on the concept of ‘Expression of Interest’ (EOI).
While going through thousands of products listed on our website, if you find what you are looking for but,for some reason, not happy with the price mentioned, all you have to do is click on the EOI (Expression of Interest) button on the product page to save your EOI.
ShopMate aggregates all such interests of their customers. As more and more people express their interests in a product, ShopMate collects all the EOIs, and connects with the sellers in the locality in order to get the best local price. The fundamental concept is to extract advantage from numbers, thus, enabling ShopMate’s users to get the best offers on products.
Is it fair to assume local vendors are not big fans of e-commerce? How difficult is it to get them on board?
The growth of e-commerce has always been a big concern for local retailers. They are aware of the fact that they won’t be able to compete with e-commerce companies, especially in terms of pricing and technology. Physical stores require high fixed-costs (rent, for instance), and multiple employees to run the stores. Till now they were unable to spread the available offers to a larger audience because of limited accessibility- that’s where ShopMate’s role kicks in.
As far as our experience goes, retailers do not need convincing. They understand, ShopMate is a facilitator of their business and not a competitor. There are however some misconceptions about independent retailers, but contrary to that, we’ve found a very large number of second and third generation retailers who are well-educated, highly aware, and very keen to stay competitive in the market, and relevant to their consumers.
What are ShopMate’s future plans?
The business that started out with just one category, namely mobiles and tablets, has now successfully added two-wheelers and computers in its list. We intend to add two more categories, electronics and cars, within the next two months. The company is currently outlining a plan to roll-out operations in Agra, Lucknow, Meerut and Chandigarh by the end of this year.