[Part 1] I introduced Siva to some VC friends of mine based on a very specific criteria he had mentioned. The VCs LOVED the company. Why? See how precise and detailed Siva’s analysis is of the customer and the competition. No hand waving in the air. No approximation. Plane hard facts. Impressive!
SM: What is your target customer? (Please provide a good segmentation perspective)
SK: Our user demographics lean towards women shoppers (70% women to 30% men) typically between the ages of 25 to 45. Household income tends to be $80,000 plus and a majority of the audience is urban. Access to high-speed Internet at home and or at work is part of the demographic profile. Most of our users are comfortable researching and shopping online while all of them are comfortable using the Internet for online research for their shopping.
We would define our ideal consumer as a savvy, online shopper, who makes purchasing decisions not only for her, but also for the whole family. She is likely short on time, given many other competing priorities (family, work). She appreciates humor, but don’t want to be “talked down to”. She wants to feel empowered, efficient and smart. She wants clear, concise, relevant information, but packaged in a hip, fun, modern fashion/style.
SM: What is the competition, and how do you differentiate?
SK: Broadly our main competition is the current pattern of using mainstream Web search engines for shopping search by consumers. Hence our goal is to introduce consumers to the much better experience that comes from using TheFind and converting them over.
While there are quite a few comparison shopping sites like Shopping.com, Shopzilla and others. These sites are mainly oriented towards more commoditized products like computers, electronics and media. The audience for these sites tends to be more male oriented and price conscious. These sites do not have any user loyalty and get much of their traffic by buying CPC links for shopping keywords on Google and Yahoo. However, the experience they deliver for lifestyle goods is very poor – small numbers of products, poorer result quality and a very text/data oriented display as well as the biased nature of their paid placement results. The price comparison model also does not work well as these engines lack true search technology to understand lifestyle shopping searches and deliver the price comparisons for these lifestyle products.
In the emerging discovery shopping space, in addition to TheFind, there are two companies who have introduced their sites to the market in the past few months.
Like.com – is a visual shopping search site that singularly addresses parts of the apparel and accessories and the home markets. Like.com’s technology is visual search and specifically compares product images to one another, in order to gauge similarity. This feature is limited to the few categories where appearance similarity is a satisfactory criterion for making a purchase decision. Like.com evolved its business from an unsuccessful attempt to parlay visual search in an online photo site called Riya. As such, the company has not built any backend (crawler) technology specific to shopping. Consequently, it lacks a deep product index and is limited even in the categories of products it addresses to a smaller set of stores and items. In addition visual similarity also only works for a few areas of the shopping space.
ShopStyle.com – is more narrowly focused and calls itself a fashion search engine. It only covers the apparel and accessories market, with a UI that is based on a grid-view and is more visually engaging. The number of stores and products this site covers is even smaller than Like.com and this site too lacks any backend to ensure comprehensiveness even in the smaller number of categories it covers.
In our opinion, there are three main criteria a new discovery shopping search site needs to have to achieve broad consumer usage, and TheFind.com addresses all three – comprehensiveness, ranked relevance & visually engaging design. We differentiate by offering the best user experience for shopping search that combines the comprehensives with the ranked relevancy of top selling brands, styles and stores in a visually stimulating browsing experience.