SnapDeal’s Sunshine Program Is A Great Way Of Helping Charities

SnapDeal, the ecommerce company, has a Sunshine Program to help Charitable Organisations. The program allows organisations to create their shopping list and publish on SnapDeal. SnapDeal promotes this amongst its users, who can order whatever they want to donate. SnapDeal delivers the products directly to the organisation.

Publishing wish-lists and gift registry for birthdays and weddings is popular in some cultures and countries. Letting charities do this brings in a lot of efficiency in the system, as only the most needed stuff is received as donation. And what better place to publish this than an ecommerce store? Users will be inspired to donate through this efficient as there is very little decision making to be done. Since these are usable products and not cash, there is more trust as well. All this while the store enjoys a positive brand recall. A true win-win-win.

The current state of the program is a great start and bringing bulk buy discounts, non-branded low cost products, donation receipts will make this a full fledged default destination for the privileged ones to give back.

How You Can Exploit The Tolerance Level of Users To Increase RoI – Some Examples

When pricing a new product, understanding the tolerance level of the user is important. Knowing what is the maximum you can charge for a product without turning down your customers helps you maximize your revenue. This tolerance level theory applies to every feature optimization. The idea of exploiting tolerance level in product design is to move away from being a purist and keeping interactions clean to finding the right balance between clean product and clean product that makes money.

To be able exploit tolerance you need to understand what your true product is. Example – For most of India, a flight booking OTA’s true product may be booking the cheapest flight easily. Cheapest is the real product, easily might be exploitable for tolerance. A food delivery companies real product is food quality and delivery time, interface of app might be exploitable for tolerance.

Here are some examples that will help you understand what negotiables can be exploited for tolerance. Some product managers might want to call it a Growth Hack.

  1. Way2SMS – A free SMS sending website. From the time of landing on homepage to sending the SMS, a user is shown about 15 ads. You might call it too much but if you understand the users’ profile you will be less worried about interface and more worried about delivery time of SMS. Way2SMS’s delivery time is under 2Seconds, even in peak hours.
  2. Akosha –  A freemium dispute resolution system for consumers. Akosha has pivoted to being Helpchat. Akosha used to send a notice to the disputing service provider on behalf of the consumer for free. If the dispute isn’t resolved, they charge the consumer Rs.500 to follow it up. I and friends have used Akosha thrice to solve disputes worth Rs.13K, Rs.30K, Rs.1K successfully. In all 3 cases Akosha did not charge, because the free service was good enough. Was there room to charge a fee/tip after the service? Absolutely.
  3. GoZoomo: A friend used Gozoomo recently to buy a second hand car. They are doing a lot of offline work with the RTO for him, all for free. Charging for actual expenses borne on behalf of the consumer wouldn’t hurt.
  4. Pinterest – If you land on Pinterest from Google, the first 2 folds are visible without login but when you scroll down further, you are asked to signup. Good balance of freemium.
  5. Quora– Like Pinterest, Quora only allows you to read the answer that you directly landed on, everything else requires you to log in. Sometimes the user has no problem signing in, it’s just that you haven’t asked him well enough or you have given him a “Skip for now” button.
  6. FindYogi – At FindYogi, we ask the user to login to see coupons applicable on a product. Most of our signups come from that 1 feature.
  7. Coupon sites – They open the destination site before showing the actual coupon code. Does the user have a problem with that? Well, their growth doesn’t suggest that.
  8. Insurance sites – Most of the sites ask you for contact details before showing a quote. If you are really serious about buying  insurance, you may not mind it. Afterall, what’s the use of spending so much marketing money to bring the user on the site and not even creating a hook to contact them again.
  9. GoDaddy – From the time of selecting the domain to buy to actually finalizing your order, they try to upsell you 3-4 products viz. SSL, Hosting, email, related domains. Does it hurt? Well what are the chances that he will bounce from step 2 and go to a competitor to buy a commodity product like a domain? Low revenues hurt more.
  10. BigBasket – Untill recently, the earliest delivery slot that you would on BigBasket would be atleast 36hrs away. What really worked for them is the fullfillment rate. They were so good at getting what you ordered that they were ready bet on it with a 50% premium on refunds made for non-delivery. And when they promised a time-slot they really delivered then. Delivery slot is a negotiable, partial fulfillment or delay is not.

Not exploiting tolerance is like leaving money on the table. And once you know what the negotiables are, you will work harder to improve the non-negotiables. A lot of times maximizing the negotiable tolerance actually helps you discover a sustainable business model.

The important thing with tolerance level is that your margin in the tolerance exploitation is the opportunity for a new player to get it. BigBasket vs. Grofers is a good case here.

The Overload Of User Interfaces – Who Should You Develop For?

Back in 2005-06 the world had almost come to working with browser apps only. This was after we had started giving up on Yahoo chat as a desktop downloadable tool. Soon after mobile started picking up and WAP sites got popular. Later in 2007-08 iPhones were launched and all hell broke loose. Web developers now had to develop for environments that were different from the traditional web. Nokia’s symbian was still popular in developing economies. And then Android also caught up.

As if all the fragmentation wasn’t enough, browsers like Opera and UC web were running their own standards of HTML and no-JS sites. Google Chrome was lagging in mobile web story due to low bandwidth in developing economies so they started re-directing traffic through Google Web Light. They recently introduced AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) as a standard for content sites on low bandwidth. In a bid to reduce bandwidth overload for extended usage some developers took to Single Page Applications (SPAs) as well but that had it’s own challenge in terms of first time load and SEO.

With the whole fight around apps/no-apps, Google is now introducing app streaming for users with high-bandwidth access. So what does a developer do?

We tried to do a break down of all potential interfaces. Here’s what we got. Might be useful to think around this.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 6.30.08 PMWeb interface break down for India. (Click to expand)

Facebook’s Copy Writing Change For Events RSVP Is Small But Magical

Facebook’s events’ RSVP earlier had 3 responses – Going, May Be, Not Going. Lately, I have started seeing the responses as – Going, Interested, Can’t Go.

  • The change from May Be to Interested may not mean much as both are non-confirmatory but Interested is more positive than May Be. 
  • Changing Not Going to Can’t Go is a major change. Can’t Go already has a sense of willingness to go but declining due to uncontrollable circumstances. The aim of the event RSVP is to capture data for the host in the most positive way, and this change will enable more people to respond without hurting the host’s sentiments or feeling guilty about it. Facebook has done this earlier also.

The UX of Social products has a lot to do with copy writing. Those little changes will make all the difference in engagement rates. Read more here.

Update: Facebook has 2 sets of responses depending on whether the event is public or private. This makes the detailing all the more interesting.

FirstCry’s User Generated Content Strategy For Reviews

FirstCry, ecommerce company for baby products, is asking shoppers to upload pictures and videos of their child with the product. These pictures would be showcased on the product page.

first cry

This feature is a win-win-win for existing users, potential new users and the site.

1. Rewards – For the reviewer. Seeing your kid featured on a popular ecommerce site is a huge ego boost for the parents. This is almost like a mini celebrity stature. This is lesser effort than writing a 200 word review.

2. Testimonial – It’s a proof that someone else has bought the product from this site. It is more than just saying “Genuine buyer”.

3. Better Decisions – Since these are genuine non-paid pics, shoppers are more like to trust them and can easily visualize real world view of the product.

In the days of selfie, expect this trend to catch up with other ecommerce portals.

Cleartrip Activities: More Than A Product Vertical

Cleartrip has launched Activities. As the name suggests, the section lists various activities that you can take up on weekends or otherwise. While it might look like a new product vertical for travelers, there is more to this product vertical, or rather engagement strategy.

There are 3 things to note about this feature:

1. It is app only.
2. The launch cities are not where people go to travel but where the Cleartrip’s audience lives.
3. The activities chosen are for locals, not for travelers visiting the place. Most of them.

For a segment like travel booking, which happens couple of times in a year, most people would uninstall the app after a use. This feature gives the users a reason to keep the app and open it every week. I would expect Cleartrip doesn’t limit itself to paid activities only.

It is very important for transaction systems to have an engagement feature else the acquisition cost is not limited to every new user but for every new transaction. And with transactions being a commodity, the product might just become very difficult arbitrage game.

Your product always needs to do more than just the feature that makes you money.

Incase you like this feature, Explara and Townista are doing this decently.

Flipkart had recently promoted an engagement tool on its app, albeit short lived – Read about the #ThumbThing.

Beyond Google Search – The Platforms For The Internet of Actions

Cross posted at iSpirt

The rise of Mobile is a big shift in the way Internet is used, thereby influencing commerce over the Internet. In developed economies it is the desktop based users who have started spending a significant amount of time on mobile. For India specifically, mobile is bringing in lot of first time Internet users.

Given that Google Search is not the default starting point on mobile, there is a void waiting to be filled as the platform of the mobile internet. No, Android/iOS is not it. There are 3 services that I believe can be the platform of the mobile internet viz. maps, payments and delivery. Before looking into each of them, the hypothesis here is that the Internet of mobile is no longer about serving information but it is about enabling actions. So what happens to information related stuff? They will move to a Chat like app with a command prompt like interface. It is already happening with Wechat, Line etc. Search would be easier over chat with results showing bite-size info in cards, the blue-link click is only required to dive deeper. Why chat and not current Google search? Because the current Google search is a state-less communication. Two consecutive searches do not relate to each other. The command prompt type interface serving bite-size info will need to be state aware, just like human communication.

The 3 platforms:

Maps

In the long term, Maps are going to be default page for most of our local needs, like movies, cabs, handyman or anything related to offline commerce. Different reports suggest that about 40-50% of all mobile search is local. Instead of a page with blue links, maps will become our search engine on mobile. China is already seeing this change with Baidu Maps driving all-things-local. Google Maps also recently integrated Uber to show estimated pickup time if you have uber installed (http://blog.uber.com/googlemaps). When you have more than 1 cab app installed, Google Maps will influence which one you choose. In the long run it will also mean that you will not need to install the app but the app will just be backend integrated with Google Maps.

Users currently find it easier to search for “Zomato Pizza Hut” on Google and then go to Zomato’s Pizza Hut page, as compared to first going to Zomato.com, and then searching for “Pizza Hut”. In the same way, people will not look for a cab on a map inside Ola or Uber’s app, instead Ola and Uber’s cabs will be visible together on a single instance of Google Map.

The future of mobile local search is Apps on Map, and not maps inside apps. Just like now we don’t need to bookmark every restaurant site on the web browser, in future we may not need to install every cab booking app. This is the most important and defensible product of Google in the long term. Individual Apps as an interface is an intermediary stage of the mobile evolution until platform level aggregation and deep integration does not come into action again.

Payments

We do not see payments as a platform because it is generally not the starting point or in most cases we don’t even realize if it has an interface. It just happens, and that is how it is supposed to be. Apple and Samsung are working towards that. In India, the wallet feature in apps is being accepted. Mobile carriers and large banks are trying to get into the space. Paytm seems to be moving fastest in this space though. There are still licenses to be issued in this space by RBI and rightly so because this space is more about enabling trust and insurance, the core of commerce, than anything else.

Indian consumers do not relate to payment systems and insurance directly, but in developed economies one can ask their credit card company for a complete refund if the service by a vendor is not satisfactory. So they not only act as a credit and payment company but also an insurance company. Being on a universal trusted payments platform will mean more business. Micro-transaction will happen over a payments app and each little vendor need not have their own app with payment gateway. I should be able to use a plumber’s service and pay via a payments app that both of us use.

Delivery

Delivery of physical goods is a big platform opportunity. What we generally see as an ecommerce company is a delivery company. A lot of commerce, new and used, B2C and C2C, is being limited by the physical movement of goods. While intercity delivery is controlled by large courier companies, the hyper local delivery of goods is still an unsolved problem. Uber is dominant in this space for people movement and now starting for food but their platform doesn’t yet allow movement of small goods from B2C or C2C. In India, Delyver and Grofers are trying to capture this space. Entering the C2C delivery space will be a big move for them. It’s human delivery network now but from what we see, it will evolve into a drone network.

How SpringRole Might Put A Dent In The Recruitment World

SpringRole is referral based hiring tool. Companies post a job, you discover it and refer a friend, through a Linkedin message, who might be a good fit. If the candidate agrees to talk, you get paid a small referral fee.

In a world where attention in scarce, getting a friend’s mail for a job not only gets the attention but also endorses it. This model has been tried before in bits and pieces though the key to such incentive based programs is spam check and reputation control. SpringRole is addressing both this in priority through a strong data driven algo that works silently in the background.

The whole tool works on top of Linkedin and will hopefully integrate more platforms. Though the profile pages seem more usable here.

Wishberg’s “You have inspired” Mail Alerts – Why Copywriting Matters

Wishberg, an app for maintaining and sharing your wishlist, sends out email alerts with a subject line that reads like this:

You have inspired Pravin Jadhav for a new wish!

The mail is basically an alert for saying someone wished for what you wished. In Twitter analogy this is something like a Retweet. What’s important here is the heading does not say “Pravin wished for what you wished” but it says that “I ‘inspired’ Pravin”. The earlier message sounds more like the follower is same as you and does not make the earlier user superior but in the latter case the original user is made to look intellectually/socially more superior because he has now “inspired” others.

I don’t have the statistical details on the open rate of these mails, but I am assuming it must be pretty high. I have gone to check Wishberg everytime I get these mails.

For a system a click is an action but for the user the copy is the action. For example, earlier Facebook used to ask users to “Become a Fan” but that is now changed to “Like”. The end effect for the system is same in both cases but for the user a “Like” is less obligatory than “Becoming a Fan”. In the same way an endorsement button could be “Like” for FB, RT for Twitter, +1 for G+, Like/Dislike for YouTube or Agree/Disagree for a discussion. An agree/Disagree would not make sense on Youtube video. Similarly, someone Likes what you said is not as powerful as someone Agrees to what you said in a debate. The “share” vs. “recommend” action on Facebook is another one to think about.

A thoughtful change in copy can change the user activity manifolds.

Read more on copy change on Facebook Events.

The Inertia Of Staying In A Deal And Using That To Increase Conversion

I was talking to a traditional apparels retailer recently. He runs a large store in a tier-3 city. He recently changed the interiors of his store. The western style chairs were replaced with the Indian style seating, that requires you to remove your footwear and sitdown on a Gaddi (cushion on the floor). He reports the conversion rates are now almost 100%, earlier at about 80%. The casual window shopper is almost NIL. He believes the inertia against getting up, putting on the shoes and leaving without a purchase is high, hence the low bounce rate. But what about the inertia of removing the footwear and sitting down? Well, he says, “The cost of entertaining a customer is very high, you have to employ more staff for lesser chances of conversion. A genuine buyer will take the pain of settling down.” By making the efforts of sitting down the customer has already invested in the deal.

Last week, I wanted to get a phone repaired. The case was complicated, neighborhood service centers couldn’t solve it. I put up an ad on Sulekha, got a call from this one store that was 12KMs away, but he wouldn’t give me the exact quote on phone. He needed to “see” the phone to give the exact price. Since his was the only call that sounded confident enough of fixing it, I drove 12KMs. He saw the phone and quoted Rs.100 more than the upper limit he said on the phone. Did I pay him? Yes. I had already invested in this deal by traveling across half the city, I wouldn’t want that to be a sunk cost. Was he cheating? NO. He never committed anything on phone.

Let’s see some online examples: The secret to Freecharge’s (very) high coupon redemption rate is the Rs.10 “courier cost”. That Rs.10 doesn’t really pay up for the courier but by paying something for the coupon the user has invested in it, hence higher chances of him using it. It’s true that lesser people would order coupons because of this Rs.10 cost but in coupons business the only metrics that should matter is the redemption rate and that’s what the focus was.

The Amazon’s way of establishing inertia is Amazon Prime, the free 2-day shipping that you invested in by paying annually. $79 may be too much to invest for shipping but once done, one will spend more with Amazon to make it sound like a smart investment. Amazon is offering products with low marginal cost like movie streaming etc. to increase the purchase of Prime.

What are other equivalent of this inertia builder in the online world? How do you make the user invest in the deal before making the transaction? How do you make the user drive up your key metrics? Isn’t this required more for online world where travelling between shops is only a matter of click?

One example that comes to my mind is “add to cart to see final price?” that a lot of sites do. Although that feature was born of regulatory issues but can it be applied to the stores advantage? Like, “Add to cart and also enter credit card details” to see final price? I remember Via.com showed ‘price after applying coupon’ only when you have filled in your mobile number and email address. Is that enough inertia buildup? Is there something more that can be done?