Friday, May 31, 2013

If you are a handicraft afficionado, you must have surely come across the delightful website Today it announced that it has been acquired by Its not exactly clear what direction it will take, whether the website will completely shut down or whether sellers goods will be made available at the Snapdeal website.

We were one of the early ones to setup a shop in Unlike many others, they got a lot of things right from the beginning :

1) Respect for Sellers : There are host of websites that will call you and want you to list your products in their website, but most of them treat sellers as if they are not aware of the internet or plain dumb. There are designers and manufacturers that make great products and Shopo showed respect and tried to create an ecosystem rather than act like traders ready to make a killing

2) 15% Commission : India is a very difficult market and it is important that products are priced right. Another important part it should make sense for the whole ecosystem for products to be sold and customers to be happy - this means designers and manufacturers get to sell at a price that is good for them, marketplaces get a sensible commission and customers get a reasonable deal. Many players dont get that and want to charge 30%-40% which simply breaks the system. Shopo went ahead and fixed it at 15% with no listing fees - which was just great for everyone.

3) From Designer/Manufacturer to Seller - There are a lot of ecommerce stores that neither want to become a pure marketplace nor carry inventory. They get an order, place it to the manufacturer and then  get in their warehouses, package it again and send to customer. This is a bit ridiculous because 1) Higher chances of stock out 2) High delivery times and low customer satisfaction 3) Double the cost of packaging and higher chances of breakage 4) Higher price. However, Shopo did not fall into that trap and instead focused on enabling the seller (pickups from Fedex etc) rather than become an unwanted gateway in between.

4) Great Sense of humour - Shopo has a great sense of humour and it is apparent in their emails to sellers

There are also a few things where we thought Shopo got it wrong :

1) Logistics - If you are a seller, you can either ship it yourself or get Shopo to pick up the order via its courier partners. Though it was great for the seller and customer, I am sure this must be very expensive because it is difficult to estimate the size/volume of each product and probably it is best left for the seller to ship.

2) Marketing - Lately Shopo tried a form or marketing using which Sellers could market their stuff at Shopo's facebook page etc for a price. This is a bit strange for sellers because they are anyway paying 15% as commissions which should include marketing and payment etc.

3) Technology - Though most of what they did in terms of technology - feeds or the iPad app were really cool, the site was a bit slow at times and as a seller, your products kind of got lost as new and new sellers joined - somehow it felt that relevance and popularity lost out a bit to how new your stuff was.

Overall, Shopo was like a breath of fresh air and hopefully, these kind of services/websites dont lose their relevance when acquired by the big boys.

Best of luck to the Shopo team - you guys have been awesome.

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