Data from Google shows that while four in five consumers are looking to make local purchases, consumers require pricing and data availability across stores in their vicinity to make effective local buying decisions. At present, when consumers search for local options, they are most likely to find Yellow Pages and review sites with limited, static content. To fill this vacuum, Sujit Thomas Zachariah (44) and Rakesh Raghuvanshi (46) floated Nifty Window.
Nifty Window is a hyperlocal discovery and omni-channel conversion platform for brands with brick-and-mortar presence. It leverages brands’ offline assets and drives online consumers to nearby offline stores or to the brand's online store. Sujit says,
We work primarily with brands that have multiple locations across the country, including owned outlets, franchises and dealers, and help drive footfall to the local outlets.
The platform uses its patent-pending technology to deliver contextual content to likely search queries in the customer's path to purchase cycle, utilising geo-spatial data-driven content, lead and transaction optimisation.
Coping with e-commerce onslaught
With the onslaught of e-commerce in the past few years, chains with brick-and-mortar stores have been on the back foot, with many wondering if the digital era would result in the end of offline retail. Sujit adds,
Their typical initial response has been to open their own e-commerce store, often overlooking their unique offline network advantage across the country. There was no solution in sight that helped such stores attract consumers from the online channels.
Brains behind Nifty Window
Given their deep domain expertise in local digital marketing and retail brand activation or last-mile connect, the duo came up with a platform to attract consumers from online to offline stores. “There was plenty of supporting data showing that this concept with proper strategy and execution can be really disruptive in helping offline brands turn the tide,” says Rakesh.
Prior to Nifty Window, Sujit was a Product Director at Yahoo! US, where he led merchant experiences across Yahoo! Small Business and Yahoo! Local. He has authored six patents/trade secrets and over 20 publications. He holds an MBA from Yale University and a Ph.D. in Computer Science and Engineering from State University of New York at Buffalo.
With over two decades of experience in brand marketing and communications, Rakesh has built two leading activation agencies, founded Live1India (a pioneer retail consulting group in engagement and memories-based communications) and has been involved in the launch of more than 35 leading global brands in India. He has won global communication strategy pitches for global brands such as Gillette.
Named in the Tech 30 list for Yourstory's TechSparks, 2015, , Nifty Window was launched in May 2014 to help brands influence millions of consumers directly each month with local buying needs located in over 200 cities, with more than 50 per cent of the influence taking place over mobile devices. “On an average, brands have seen 3X to 4X improvement in their ability to influence consumers in the vicinity of their outlets, all organically,” says Rakesh.
Leveraging online platform
While there are plenty of solutions available to brands focussing on repeat business from existing customers with loyalty and smart re-engagement-based solutions, there are hardly any platforms focussed on helping acquire new customers. Sujit adds,
Our initial challenge was to educate them on alternative ways to leverage the online platform than pure-play e-commerce, and the importance of content online and transaction offline from consumer decision-making perspective.
With initial clients showing a surge in sales, the duo has been able to enable many brands understand the power of their physical stores, and also maximise sales now by combining both online and offline marketing.
The company has a clientele base including Domino’s Pizza, Unilever, Harley Davidson, Decathlon, Future Group, Titan, Aditya Birla Group and Kotak Mahindra Bank in India. Nifty Window works on a fixed-plus-variable pricing model. At present, Nifty Window claims to have one million users and it influences five million searches every month.
Local marketing for brands is a $50-billion opportunity and is growing at a rapid pace, driven by mobile adoption and hyperlocal automation possibilities. Built as a scalable platform offering, Nifty Window has the ability to cater to multiple brands, across business verticals and geographies, enabling a future where online and offline commerce co-exist instead of rooting each other out.
Globally, there are a number of players specialising in brand content marketing, like HubSpot, local paid content syndication like Yext, GoDaddy, ConstantContact, and outlet landing pages/websites (e.g. Where2GetIt). In contrast, Nifty Window offers performance-driven local marketing based on unique, structured content such as pricing and availability and hyperlocal analytics.