With 'mobile eating the world', e-commerce platforms are now focusing on improving the user experience on mobile apps through personalization by various means. Customer acquisition is not as big a problem as customer retention right now.
It is common to see the bigger players in the eco-system acquiring the smaller ones that they think would add value either to their product or team and help them go one up on their competitors. Voonik, the Indian personal shopping app, today announced that they had acquihired TrialKart, a mobile platform that provides a virtual dressing room experience, for an undisclosed amount.
TrialKart was co-founded by Vipul Divyanshu, Jayalakshmi Manohar and Harsha M about six months ago. They identified that while e-commerce platforms provided a good experience for consumers in most product categories, apparels and accessories posed a problem. Harsha says, “28-40% of all apparel sold online is returned by dissatisfied customers due to trial and fitting issues. Although online shopping is a convenience, it can be a nightmare when it comes to apparels, especially for women. When they shop for dresses, t-shirts, shirts etc, they want to try it on themselves before they buy it. They miss the trial room experience and often end up returning what they’ve bought after a frustrating experience online.”
TrialKart decided to solve this problem for consumers through 'Virtual dressing rooms', where users could pinch, zoom, readjust and orient apparel on pictures shot through smartphones. This way users could virtually 'try' on different clothes or accessory they liked, get an idea how they would look in them and then buy them.
Voonik, a Bengaluru-based shopping app for women that had recently raised $5M in funding from Sequoia Capital and existing investor Seedfund, saw potential in TrialKart. Voonik was founded in 2013 by Sujayath Ali and Navaneetha Krishnan. Sujayath said,
I read about TrialKart on YourStory and was interested in the product that the team had built, so we connected to take things further.
Harsha added, "We have been in touch with the Voonik team for about 40 days now. They were impressed with the work we had done in five months. What we have on our app on the Google Playstore is about 20% of the work we've done. We liked the use cases that Voonik team has in mind and hence went ahead with the deal."
Sujayath added, "Voonik entered the negotiations with an open mind and we had considered all possibilities such as investing in them, acquisition but finally decided to go ahead with acquihiring. As tech guys, we saw that they were interested in the use cases we have in the pipeline for image intelligence."
Flipkart-backed Myntra is the biggest player in this space. Earlier this year, they had acquired Native5 to boost their mobile app growth and were also in the news for their mobile app-only strategy. Roposo, a fashion-focused social network, recently raised a SeriesB round of $15M in funding from Tiger Global, to accelerate their growth. Limeroad, a social discovery platform for women, had raised a $30M Series C round from Tiger Global and other existing investors in March 2015. With 19.7 average sessions per user/month and two minute, 42 second average session duration, based on App Annie data for the month of July, Voonik is ahead of it's competitors, for some key metrics.
Apart from image intelligence, another interesting sector in fashion e-commerce is visual search. While the biggies such as Flipkart, Myntra, Snapdeal, and others have their ‘eyes’ on visual search and have made soft launches, Snapshopr founded by Navneet Sharma and Debashish Pattnaik, Wazzat Labs founded by Mauktik Kulkarni, Jay Guru Panda, and Naveen Sinha have been around for some time.
Going forward, the TrialKart team will be absorbed into Voonik and will be working on a new division under them called ‘Image Intelligence’, which aims to augment the technology backbone of the Voonik app. Sujayath added,
We ultimately want to reach a stage where we don't want to rely on vendor data at all for our personalization features. Image intelligence and virtual dressing rooms are the holy grail for fashion and e-commerce and we plan to implement these solutions in the Voonik app in the future.
At the time of their Series A round, Voonik claimed to be doing close to 2500 transactions a day and currently claim to be clocking about 7000 transactions a day across India with 50% of orders coming from metro cities and remaining 50% from Tier 2 cities and towns. They are also looking at other investment opportunities to help them accelerate their growth further. Sujayayth added, "While we got our termsheet from our investors we were doing about INR 1 crore in sales a month, we have now grown 12 times that number."
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