The e-commerce wave in India is here to stay. In the last couple of years, we’ve seen many new players entering the market, which we showcase, celebrate and disseminate at our event, e-sparks. With this boom in the e-commerce space, we are also likely to see many businesses providing support and supplemental functions to the e-commerce industry. About a month ago, we showcased vDeliver, a startup which provides cost-effective logistics to eCommerce ventures.
Here, we meet Buyt, a search engines which helps you find the best deals online. In conversation with the founders, Yogesh Tomar, Biswanath Patel, Sunil Jain and Simran Singh about what makes them unique.
‘Solving the problem of analytics’
Like most startups, Buyt was founded with the objective of solving a problem the founders had themselves faced. Simran says, ‘finding the best deal across retail websites is really tedious and its impossible to compare prices when you have to rely on google for search’.
Yogesh and Biswanath, both IITians, having worked with the analytics team at Nomura, are leveraging their knowledge of the technology, which is what Buyt uses for its search. ‘We had the know-how and we wanted to use it to solve this peculiar problem of the e-commerce industry’ says Yogesh, elaborating that the technology that they are employing is in fact what makes them unique in the market.
Another standout feature, according to the team is the way the search engine is tuned on their portal. ‘While most search engines on e-commerce sites are category based, our navigation works differently. Instead of searching for a particular category, you search for a definitive word and our search engine will throw up products across categories which matches your search’ says Simran. As an instance, the team explains that, say for example, instead of searching for cushion cover, one searches for ‘checks’, the site will show all products which have the element of ‘checks’.
On the decision to startup, Simran, also an IITian and ex ISB, who heads the business development at Buyt tells us, ‘the idea and the time was just right, the industry is booming and there is a problem that needs to be solved’. Sunil Jain, ex IAMB, heads the marketing and operation for the company.
‘Not a retail site’
While the website helps you find the best deals, the founders clarify that they are not retail site themselves, but simply working on a ‘third party model’. Speaking of this decision, Yogesh tells us, ‘the biggest problem of an e-commerce startup is working capital, which we are able to eliminate with this model’. Their revenue model, so far, is based on commissions that they get from retailers for any purchase that is generated through Buyt and the site remains a ‘tool of convenience’ and free for use to the end-user.
The company has so far partnered with 11 retailers including snapdeal, homeshop18, jabong, and croma, among others and the team tells us that they have a listing of over 4 million products.
‘Educating people is the biggest challenge’
While the company is confident of their product and the technology they are using to back it, their biggest challenge so far has been educating people about their search engine. Confident that this decision will pay off in the long run, Simran says ‘there is an inherent flaw in the way search engines operate on e-commerce sites currently. It is impossible to arrive at a standardized theme which is aligned with everyone’s thoughts and we want to make the shift to provide a ‘google-like’ experience with online shopping’.
The company tells us that the site, which went live only a month ago, is already seeing a traction of 400-500 visits each day. Speaking of the road ahead, Biswanath says, ‘our basic functionality is in place, besides educating people of our search engine, we are also looking at adding more retailers and are in talks with a few investors’. The company is looking for investment, primarily to enhance the functionality of their technology, so they are able to add a wider spectrum of retailers.
While the company will be competing with players such as Accel backed, MySmartPrice on analytics, (especially since MySmartPrice has now added fashion and other products to their existing categories), Buyt’s focus on navigating the search differently, if successful, might put them in a different bracket from other existing players in the market.