Hyderabad-based deals and coupons startup GrabOn has launched a new platform BestPriceOn. With this move, the four-year-old startup has made a foray into price comparison market in India.
BestPriceOn is a consumer electronic items price comparison platform which aims to make product discovery and price comparison easier for online shoppers. It currently provides price comparison in 13 categories such as mobile phones, laptops, tablets and other consumer electronic goods.
Ashok Reddy, the CEO and founder of GrabOn says, “29 Mn phones were shipped to India in Q1 FY ‘17, as per a market research firm Counterpoint report. The average Indian buyer makes online searches nearly 10 times before actually making a smartphone purchase. With BestPriceOn, we aim to capture 10%-15% of this price comparison market in the next two years.”
Foraying Into Price Comparison: BestPriceOn
So what led Ashok to enter into the similarly crowded price comparison market? Is the coupons space near saturation. His reply: a resounding no.
“Between the period 2012-2016, research firm Forrester predicted the deals and coupon industry is expected to scale up by an annual 57%. This is, in fact, a great time to be in the coupons and deals space. GrabOn, when it started, was all for revolutionising the performance marketing space. Price comparison is an extended segment for performance marketing. It was eventually going to get added to the GrabOn’s features list, which we finally did but with a technology innovation flavour.”
BestPriceOn is banking on two things to stand tall of the competition – a differential UI and artificial intelligence. Commenting on the AI system, Ashok says, “What do you do when you’re not sure of something? You log onto Google and search for whatever comes to your mind, the way you speak with others. Basically in your natural language and you get the most relevant results. We wanted to provide a similar ease of use to the user so that they can query for the gadget, with features, the way they like to provide the most relevant gadgets, which is a huge advantage for the user.”
Here, AI has been used in combination with curated NLP (Natural Language Processing) search and Machine Learning. With this, BestPriceOn lets users search for products by using simple terms. As claimed by GrabOn, even with layman terms and keywords, the search results have been exceptional. For instance, one can write, “best mobiles under 10,000 with 2GB RAM’ or ‘washing machine with front load and fully automatic technology above 6 liters.’
Ashok further elaborates with, “The current price comparisons happen only when there is an exact string match and this tech can be compared to the experiences one faces when conversing with a chatbot on a travel website. The bot understands only a few keywords.
BestPriceOn, unlike the rest, has a core with Natural Language Processing abilities that make the search as good as the one you experience on Google. The on-page content and technical aspects in place help users make informed buying decisions, thus making for an experience unlike no other.”
This inbuilt technology helps to recommend the curated personalised choices for the user based on his/her shopping activity and search behaviour on the platform. “In the backend, we have algorithms that learn from user behaviour – which results did the users like the most and that helps us improve on them. We’re also working on enhancing the queries via these algorithms to find out and adapt to what and how the users are searching,” adds Ashok.
BestPriceOn: Traction, Monetisation, Future Plans
BestPriceOn went into beta in January 2017. During the beta phase, it claimed to see a 286% elevation in organic traffic and a 300% increase in direct traffic, compared to the last quarter. “The responses have been overwhelming, thus pointing to the success of the implementation of Natural language processing in the price comparison space,” says Ashok.
In terms of monetising, the company is going the traditional way: looking at the commission based models like Cost Per Click (CPC), Cost Per Mile (CPM) and Cost per Sale (CPS). The team also plans to work with affiliate partners and directly with merchants. As Ashok reveals, revenues are going to be in two streams – performance marketing and campaign management.
The team further plans to grow over 100% month on month, reaching two to three million unique users and over 10 Mn pageviews every month by end of 2017. In terms of GMV, with the current growth rate, the team expects to do over $1.5 Mn (INR 10 Cr)/ per month, by the end of the year.