American department chain Sears introduced its popular mail order catalogue in 1898, a magazine which provided potential consumers with details about different products. It gained popularity at the time and many companies introduced brochures and magazines to showcase their products.
Now, in the present digital era smartphones and desktops have become our primary mode of communication with the world. Abile Solutions combines the old-world charm of magazines with new-age technology to take deal discovery to a hyperlocal level.
What is it?
Shop Bindaas is a mobile-app-only platform for shoppers and merchants to collaborate and benefit from brand promotions, discounts, advertising and marketing. The app displays daily promotions in a magazine-like format with discount ads from nearby stores and big brands in city malls. The app also includes season sales running in the city.
For merchants and brands, the app serves as a marketing platform for promotion and to offer discounts and special sales to potential customers in close vicinity. Shop Bindaas has also tied up with a few national brands to promote their new products, season arrivals and end-of-season sales. For customers, it serves as a hyperlocal discovery platform for deals and offers in their area.
The story so far
Abile Solutions, the parent company behind Shop Bindass, was founded by Amit Maheshwari and Maunank Desai. Amit is a computer science engineer having 20 years of experience in software development in mobile , e-commerce and capital markets solutions. He has worked in various parts of the world with Fortune 100 companies such as Goldman Sachs, RBS and i2 technologies.
Based out of New York, USA, Maunank is also a computer science engineer with experience in web development in the financial industry. He is the problem solver in the team and focusses on both technology and business aspects. The company currently has a team of two developers and two people looking after sales and marketing.
Amit found that the first challenge was to understand the pain points of merchants and come up with an economical solution. He says, “We met more than 100 merchants to understand issues and shared our ideas to address their problems. They were excited and positive about it and we decided to take it ahead.”
The startup’s business model comprises of multiple revenue streams: a flat weekly charge for each promotion and charges based on reach of advertisement in the near vicinity. Its current focus is on NCR, Delhi and Gurgaon, but it plans to scale to other metro cities such as Bengaluru and Mumbai in the future. The company also has a referral programme to encourage shoppers to share the app with their friends.
The startup is currently self-funded and is looking to raise funds to accelerate growth. From analytics and market intelligence gained from customer shopping patterns on its platform, the team found that the most in-demand product categories currently are apparel, footwear and jewellery.
Shop Bindaas is also in the process of developing more automated and algorithmic solutions to scale faster. Amit says, “In six months’ time, we should have enough customer base to start monetising the platform and hopefully in a year’s time we will be self sustainable for advertisement and marketing for merchants.”
With many hyperlocal startups gaining traction and raising funding across different categories such as groceries, food delivery and sweetmeats, there is potential for hyperlocal targeted advertising too. Discount Me, Desidime, Synapse, Niffler, Crown It, Madpiggy, Wooplr are some other players in this sector who aim to make discovery of deals easier. Bluebook is another player but it is an actual physical book that provides offers and discounts to users.
What we liked
Shop Bindaas app has a simple user interface and the different categories and filters make it easy to look for relevant ads and promotions by brands or by location. The map interface is also interesting, as users can look for offers based on brands, categories, sales or location.
Shop Bindaas decided not to unbundle and has a single app for shop owners (merchants), brands and customers. There is an in-app tutorial to guide both potential shoppers and merchants about the different aspects of the app. If a user is interested in a particular offer, he can click on ‘more details’ and either access the company website or provide contact information for a follow-up call. Users can also claim reward points on redeeming different offers.
What could be improved?
For bigger brands which maintain other social media accounts but don’t want the hassle of sending targeted hyperlocal ads, ShopBindaas sources content from company’s Facebook pages to the app. In some cases, this results in blurred images that are not optimised for mobile devices. Amit acknowledged the issue and confirmed they are working on improving the experience.
In some cases, I found the filters did not work. For example, when I tapped on ‘Men’s clothing’, the first two results that popped up were for women’s clothing and was then followed by relevant results.
The hyperlocal sector is seeing a lot of interest from entrepreneurs, VCs and even consumers. The app has some interesting and well-thought-out features with an intuitive magazine-like interface for easy scrolling. With an experienced team from India and USA, it will be interesting to see how Shop Bindaas further enhances the app to reach more cities and people.
Website: Shop Bindaas