Are we really looking for the cheapest option?

First came eCommerce and then the realization about the price conscious Indian mentality which led to the discount race. Everyone thought this to be the only race and jumped in to give it their all. This fight paved way for an entirely new business; comparing the 'comparators'. A vast number of services have come up that allow you to find the cheapest deal and again in various sectors. Whatever you may need, the cheapest option for your book or the cheapest price for a phone, you have got sites for every type of comparison and sites that allow you to do it all at one place as well.

Sabse "Sasta Kaun" asked Sanket Gupta, the director at MindGenies and this is what led him to find Sasta Kaun, a price comparison web portal and an online shopper’s assistant for shoppers from different countries. The website “Sasta Kaun?” comprehensively covers information on deals and coupons offered by various ecommerce sites. In the same league, MySmartPrice is another startup who also has VC backing. Founded by ex-Oracle employees, Sitakanta Ray and Sulakshan Kumar, MySmartPrice has made a strong claim for being at the forefront of this comparison race.

When the battle comes to specific sectors, there's the books area which sees maximum comparison. Founded by NRI Wharton students, ThisYaThat has a good UI and is a strong contender. Searching a whole bunch lot of sites, ThisYaThat has an active feedback execution mechanism as well. A very close contender, IndiaBookStore (older than ThisYaThat) also does just this and makes one wonder if you need a comparison engine for the comparison engines!

In the mobile space, Annkur Agarwal recently launched PriceBaba which has received good response. Earlier, PriceShred tried to do the same thing in mid 2011 but due to multiple reasons, as we all know, startups have a knack of dying.

It was never a surprise that people will flock to these sites if made aware of but the bigger question is whether if this is the real deal? Flipkart started out with giving huge discounts coupled with excellent service and free shipping. Slowly and steadily, as the customer has become loyal, the discount percentage is going down and shipping charges are being collected from the customer (under some value of purchase). Talking about Indian eCommere giants, Flipkart is definitely not the cheapest anymore as others in the race like Homeshop18, Infibeam, Jabong and the likes are offering much higher discounts but Flipkart continues to ship more. It'll be interesting to see how this race pans out.

There is a huge chunk of users yet to come online but for the regular online buyers in India, the question has arrived: Does the user only want the cheapest deal? In my opinion, service will always win at the end of the day but it is very difficult to maintain a market share as replicating the model is manageable with the right resources as has been proved by Jabong. So, going forward price comparison along with many other parameters defining quality will be the key to make the users decision easier. For instance, a company like NaturalMantra which relies heavily on the quality of a product enlisted, price comparisons would defeat the purpose. Hence, the guards who are guarding the guards also need to be more intelligent as well.


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