E-commerce has made shopping more convenient and hassle-free. But some consumers still prefer the process of actually visiting a local retail store, trying out different products, bargaining with the salesperson and then walking out with the satisfaction that the product meets their expectations.
The main issue with this train of thought is that the consumer would have to visit multiple stores, possibly in different corners of their city, to ensure that they get the best price and service. This is generally time consuming and not practical. PriceMojo aims to solve this problem with a mobile app.
What is it?
PriceMojo was founded by Neeraj Kumar and Veeresh K R. It is a hyperlocal mobile app that allows users to negotiate prices with multiple local retail stores in real-time. Currently, the product categories listed on the platform include electronic gadgets and home appliances such as TVs, mobile phones, refrigerators, washing machines and cameras.
The platform is available in Bengaluru with about 50 major retailers negotiating for their products through the app. PriceMojo claims that they have only authorised sellers of brands such as Apple, Samsung, Sony, LG, HTC, Lenovo, Dell, Whirlpool, Canon, Nikon etc., on-board to prohibit the sale of fake goods.
How it works
PriceMojo has separate consumer-facing and seller-facing mobile apps. Through the consumer-facing app, users can browse through different products and quote a price they are willing to pay for a particular product. Multiple sellers who are informed about the price quoted by the prospective customer have three choices- they can accept the offer, make a counter-offer or reject the offer price quoted.
If any seller accepts the user’s offered price, the negotiation is complete. If the seller finds that he or she can't close the deal at the quoted price, they can place a counter-offer and include any freebies to sweeten the deal. The end-consumer has a time period of 24 hours within which they need to close the deal.
A prospective buyer’s contact number is shared with the seller only once the customer accepts the offer. Customers can then request for the product to be delivered to them or they can go to the store to pick it up themselves. To prevent too many back and forth price quotes, both prospective buyers and sellers get only one chance to name their price per negotiation.
Users can explore PriceMojo as a guest, but need to share their name and mobile number during the sign-up process to be able to negotiate on the platform. While there is no obligation involved for either party to complete the transaction after the price is fixed, PriceMojo has a rating system for both. Neeraj explains,“Buyers and sellers are not obligated to complete the transaction after the negotiation process, but we have a rating system which will reflect your buying behavior. A buyer who is not serious will have lesser chances of their offers being accepted by sellers and vice versa for sellers.”
Story so far
The company currently has a team of five people looking after technology, sales and marketing aspects. The founders believe that all price negotiations will happen online rather than in person or over the phone in the future. PriceMojo’s goal is to make the process of haggling more simple and fun. The team noticed that some people are not very comfortable with haggling, while others sometimes go overboard and engage in long and aggressive price negotiation sessions.
Neeraj says, “Haggling on our platform is not argumentative. It does not require an aggressive personality and users can haggle from anywhere. And don't ever feel awkward, while asking for a discount. You have every right to get the best value for your money.’'
PriceMojo is currently bootstrapped and is looking to raise funds in the future. Their future plans also include entering all the major metro cities and venturing into more product categories such as clothing, footwear, hotel room bookings, vehicles etc. It is also considering opening up a platform for secondhand goods(similar to the eBay model).
Currently, the service is free for both buyers and sellers. PriceMojo plans to monetise through the B2B side in the future by taking a percentage commission for every successful transaction or through a monthly subscription model. To reach out to a larger customer base, the startup is currently working on a web and iOS version of its app.
While e-commerce players have become the primary choice for a large portion of the population, they still can't cater to all the needs of the customer. Among the first few platforms to allow bidding was eBay. Hyperlocal commerce is picking up in India with many technology-driven startups collaborating with local players to reach out to consumers in their vicinity.
Grofers and BigBasket are big players in this segment taking care of both technology and logistics. Then there are other smaller players that are providing hyperlocal and geofenced marketing platforms to help local retailers reach out to consumers. HelpChat recently acquired one such platform, Niffler.
What we liked
The attention to detail in the app is visible in multiple areas. For example, to give users a baseline while negotiating with the seller, the app displays prices of the same product on different e-commerce platforms. Users can also locate the stores and the price that they are offering through a map-based interface. This could be useful if a person wishes to purchase a product immediately and is not sure which store to go to.
Through my interactions on the app, I found the negotiation process to be fun and quite close to real-life scenarios. When I quoted a reasonable price of Rs15,000 for a product listed at Rs16,000, I got multiple counter-offers from sellers willing to meet me halfway at Rs15,500. On the other hand, while I quoted Rs 10,000 for another product listed at Rs15,000, I got no counter-offers.
What could be improved
Currently, buyers can only pay through cash. Including other payment options would make it more convenient for users. All the products on the platform are currently curated by the PriceMojo team and sellers need to confirm that they have the item in stock. Hence, the variety of products offered on the platform is limited, compared to what the stores have in their inventory.
While trying out the app, I got counter-offers within a span of ten minutes, sometimes sooner. Neeraj confirmed that the entire negotiation process is manually done on the seller side. While this may work for low volumes, some level of automation may be needed to handle high volumes during peak hours.
PriceMojo is a well-designed and executed app. Combining hyperlocal m-commerce and price negotiation makes it more convenient for both buyers and sellers. It will be interesting to see how they scale further and what product categories this model works best for.
What do you think about this app, do let us know in the comments below. Also do check out other apps under our App Fridays series