With Mouthshut.com, Faisal Farooqui was the first man off the blocks in India to start a website that thrived on user-generated content. Having captured more than a decade worth of data concerning the behavior of Indian consumers online, Mouthshut has insights into some of the deeper puzzles of online engagement. We got in touch with the man touted as the protagonist of Web 2.0 in India to learn more about Mouthshut’s entry into the Real Estate space and their future plans about coming up with a buying guide.“Few years back, we started getting requests for reviews on residential properties. The affluent, young, and internet savvy crowd had money at their disposal and were looking for reviews before buying,” says Faisal about what prompted Mouthshut to look into real estate. These requests mainly emanated out of Mumbai and Bangalore where the demand is huge and a pilot was carried out in these cities. A lot of groundwork had to be laid before launching the service and to make the process less cumbersome, Mouthshut launched it with listings of developers to be reviewed instead of individual properties. Mouthshut went live a few weeks ago with about 14,000 developers from 29 cities and the service is seeing good traction.
Demystifying the deal space
Veering away from real estate, there has been a massive surge in the number of deal sites in India off late which often makes one wonder as to how so many similar services can co-exist. Mouthshut entered this space with DealFace and has been around for a while with a keen eye on the competitors. “Yes, there are hordes of these sites but many of them are now closing down. We entered this market about 8 months ago and have been really careful about our steps. We’ve been learning from the mistakes others have been making,” says Faisal. “Most of the deal sites make the mistake of entering into multiple cities without laying down the groundwork and get exhausted really soon,” he added. DealFace is present only in Mumbai and has covered a major chunk of the retailers. Extensive care regarding approval and verification of deals with the best payment gateways is provided to the customers and this is what Faisal believes is the key to succeed in this segment.
Learning about e-commerce
E-Commerce is definitely here to say. Recently, Stephen Gordon at The Speculist mentioned that everything will soon shrink down to a coffee shop; everyone will order from their phones or PC’s. This is quite an interesting thought and also a strong possibility but India is still far away from realizing this. To get the game right, Indian players will have to listen to their customers. A Mouthshut study on consumer behavior over a year on their data churned out some interesting pointers for the e-commerce players:
- 19% consumers complain about post sale services and customer support.
- 14% people said that what product they chose online was different from what they received.
- 11% complained about late deliveries
Mouthshut to come out with a buying guide
So, what lies ahead for Mouthshut? Having been around ever since the word Internet dawned upon the masses in India, it now plans to move on to launching a buying guide. “The team is working aggressively for a quick launch of this guide which would be a complete decision making support system for a customer looking to buy a product,” announced Faisal.
- Jubin Mehta