How this AI-powered e-commerce platform is helping D2C brands generate revenue from online sales
As the Indian consumer started spending more and more time online from mobile devices, Mangesh Panditrao and Vivek Phalak hit upon an idea — to help brands set up their online business and drive growth. The duo launched Shoptimize in 2012 that makes use of artificial intelligence to generate actionable insights and recommendations to discover opportunities for revenue growth.
With budding businesses seeking ways to understand how consumers buy and how an effective D2C e-commerce platform can help them cater to the consumers’ needs, Shoptimize has been helping businesses increase their D2C revenue by keeping costs in check with the help of data-driven recommendations.
Before co-founding Shoptimize, Mangesh and Vivek gained considerable knowledge and experience in software development, in India and the United States. Mangesh worked for companies like Infosys, Stanley Technologies, JDA Software Group and Exact Software after finishing his education at Purdue University in Indiana. Vivek, on the other hand, already had 22 years of experience in building world-class software in Silicon Valley and India. He worked for companies like Oracle and SaaS startup Skire, which was later acquired by Oracle.
The founders had a fairly simple vision when they came up with the idea of starting Shoptimize - helping brands stay connected with their customers in an increasingly digital world. Given the heterogeneity of the Indian market, they realised there was a need for brands that performed well in certain demographics to remain connected with customers directly.
Their primary focus on the D2C aspect of businesses helped them consolidate their services. As more brands were compelled to take their businesses online after the pandemic, Shoptimize capitalised on the opportunity by providing them with the ideal platform.
Currently, Pune-based Shoptimize is helping brands like Haldiram’s, Intex, Schneider Electric, Symphony, Medimix, Veeba, Whirlpool, and more set up their D2C business, and bring them closer to their consumers by optimising their online presence. With an annual revenue of Rs 90 million in FY 2019-20 and Rs 110 million in FY 2020-21, Shoptimize is moving up in the market by helping others grow their business.
With a focus on D2C, Shoptimize has helped brands grow and reach their consumers. At present, the startup can run websites on its platform, support websites on other platforms, and drive growth for the brand it works on. What makes Shoptimize stand apart, according to Mangesh, is its ability to take risks and full control of the platform for the brands it is helping.
“What makes us unique is that we can grow these brands by taking some risks, spending on their behalf and helping them grow. I think that is something that no other company, not just in India but globally, can do,” says Mangesh. Shoptimize brings in customer intelligence data from multiple sources to provide a 360-degree view of the business. Based on this data, Shoptimize is able to generate actionable insights and recommendations.
Talking about the factors that they focus on while optimising any website, Mangesh adds that their approach towards helping different brands needs to vary according to the product that is being sold. “The variability soon got to a point where it was very difficult to track manually and execute our decisions, and that’s where machine learning came into play,” he adds. He says machine learning has helped them connect with data sources very quickly, and be able to generate insights.
Committed to the Indian market
Knowing that India was always going to be their primary market, the founders went ahead and got the .in domain for their website. Although they have the .ai extension, Mangesh says that they have always wanted to show that they are an Indian company for Indian customers.
“I think it primarily shows our commitment to the Indian market. It also shows our consumers where we belong, and that we are there for them. Also, the search engines are partial to domains that originate in the same geography and I believe that the .in domain has helped us convey that to the search engines,” says Vivek. The domain has also helped Shoptimize with recruitment, as it has brought them in touch with people who want to work in India, and for India. “It sends these people a clear message that we are a company that is committed to this geography,” adds Mangesh.
Mangesh says that the .in extension helps budding businesses get the domain they want. “It also gives them the ability to communicate to customers, to future employees, and investors on what they are focused on. This is a major area where .in really helps,” he says.
The National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) has helped many such brands like Shoptimize benefit from the .in extension. With the help of the .in and .Bharat extensions, it has become really easy for all types of enterprises to grow their business, while also ensuring that they cater to the Indian audiences effectively. Available in 22 Indian languages, these extensions have been made easily available by NIXI, and have helped indigenous businesses in the country grow considerably.