Price Comparison Service, PriceBaba brings offline retailer price online [Mumbai only]

There are several price comparison services being launched in India and while most of them simply focus on comparing price across the online store, Mumbai based PriceBaba has taken a different approach. PriceBaba collates information from offline retailers and importantly, recommends stores, That is, think of PriceBaba as a curator which ensures that the stores are verified for authenticity of products.pricebaba

In its current form, PriceBaba is only present in Mumbai and lists the best bargain price for over 400 mobiles phones from 26 manufacturer (across 110 locations). Each of these retailers are rated on over 13 difference parameters to help the consumers make a choice. PriceBaba also provides a price history tool that highlights the price fluctuations for a given mobile phone.

Price History of Phones @PriceBaba
Price History of Phones @PriceBaba

In short, PriceBaba is a ‘local price search’ engine that brings the offline retailer price online – i.e. a better online discovery of the offline world. Or better, think of it as a verticalized JustDial sort of service that only (in its current form) caters to gadget segment.

For PriceBaba, the biggest competition comes not only from other price comparison engines (who scrape the online stores), but also from ecommerce stores – for example, Nokia Lumia 800’s best price on PriceBaba is Rs. 22,500, while the same is available on BuyThePrice at Rs. 21,999. Having said that, price comparison is a never ending game (there will always be a difference of few Rupees here and there).

The important piece in PriceBaba model is the network (of offline retailers) that they are building. If Junglee had to acquire a company (assuming Junglee grows on to become India’s top notch price comparison service), it will be a service like PriceBaba, owing to the unique *IP* that is being built.

But before that, PriceBaba has to find a node in buyer’s decision making process ensuring that consumers actually check out the ‘already bargained price’ before hitting the wheels.

Here is a QnA with PriceBaba founder, Annkur Agarwal

Pi: How are you collating pricing info from local retailers? What’s the ‘guarantee’ that this is the lowest price at which retailer can offer the product (or is it still open for bargaining)?

We do not want to just collect rates from the retailer and push it to consumers, that opens up the system to being gamed and controlled by the retailers (remember retailers quoting less than cost price on similar sites some years back?). But given our retail backgrounds we are working with the supply chain to get the best bargains to consumers. Can some retailers beat that price? Yes. But for vast majority of the users, they would benefit from the guidance we give.

At the same time, we are busy building solutions that would address the friction you pointed.

Pi:  What’s the refresh frequency of price list?

More than once a week. At times before the market knows about the price change. But not all prices change every week / day.

Pi: What’s the monetization model?

Many avenues. But we want to engage the users and then explore those channels over time. We need to carefully craft our model, we cannot afford to lose the trust of the users. Quite search engine like dilemma there!

Pi: Scaling up to other cities – what’s the plan? Isn’t this a very deep offline model which needs fresh start in each and every city?

We want to use technology as much as we can. Currently we are a mix of tech and manual work. For going to new cities, we need significantly less effort and that won’t require setting up offices across. So even in the bootstrapped form, we are able to go to new cities.

An interesting concept –  if you are from Mumbai, do ask PriceBaba for gyaan and pass it on here (as comments/feedback).

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