Mobile local deals search, by mKhoj

mKhoj, a mobile advertising platform for merchants and mobile local deals search platform for customers, launched in Mumbai today. They did a formal press release & a couple of blog post seedings today, here’s a candid review of the product.
mKhoj

The concept is similar to that of OffersForShoppers, available in Bangalore & Delhi/NCR since past few months. But if you are a Mumbaikar who has been lamenting the lack of such a facility for your own city/locality, lament no more!! mKhoj is for you, even on the move. You can get deals served instantly on your mobile phone by sending an SMS “deals <on what> <where>” to 6767777.

I can already hear voices from Hyderabad, Chennai, Pune, Kolkata, etc – I need this too!! mKhoj, OffersForShoppers, discountsindia.com… Anyone!!

With an active deal inventory of 3000 deals and a 15000 small & big ticket retailer base, mKhoj brings quite some value to the table for both merchants & customers. Merchants pay, on an average, Rs. 3-5 per impression and considering the deals are served only to interested customers, I’m sure merchants can appreciate that customer acquisition costs are way below other traditional advertising platforms.

Updating the deal inventory is a mix of manual data seeding by mKhoj and online updates by merchants, they are working on the scalability bit early on :). Merchants also need to create a login before they can start posting their deals, which prevents spam [unlike discountsindia / offersforshoppers]. Ofcourse, this also works for mKhoj as CPM is the primary revenue source.

Following is a snapshot of the customer deals search experience.

mKhoj search

What next?

  • Cleaning up some obvious cracks – I searched for “ice creams, borivali” & got a couple of “Buy 1 Cookie-Tin Win a Bangkok Trip from CCD”… Ice creams & Cookies, what’s the connection!! Trousers & Clothes, make the connection!! From a search experience point of view, product associations is always a work in progress & a tough nut to crack, but necessary to target latent desires. Google’s “did you mean” 🙂
  • Showing top deals – If there are 15 qualifying deals, I would expect to get 1-2 SMSs only with “top deals”. And that’s where the intelligence in the deal platform kicks in, again a tough nut to crack.
  • Enhancing the user experience– I searched for “cookies, bandra” & got 7 results of the same offer across multiple CCDs!! Would like to see only 1 offer & group all merchants below it, so users are not misled with multiple deals.
  • Availability in other cities – Other metros & some tier 2 cities figure at the top of mKhoj’s expansion plans, and they already have a foot in the door with partnerships with multiple retail chains and shopping malls chains. Looking forward to them competing with OffersForShoppers in Bangalore.
  • Buying on the mobile – With the advent of mobile payments companies of the likes of mChek, Paymate & Jigrahak and the general adoption of the mobile phone as a secure payments option, mKhoj should take a serious look at extending the user experience from plain deals search to one-click purchasing.

Mumbaikars, do give mKhoj a spin.

UPDATE (Aug 10, 2007 10:55am)

Continuing the “What next?” theme…

  • Personalized Alerts – I am interested in books & would love to be alerted (via e-mail / SMS) of all deals on books in my locality. Can I set up an alert for say a 30day period? From a customer point of view, this would be kick-ass. From mKhoj’s point of view, though, this will fetch significantly less CPM, since the deals served in this fashion will not see the same conversion as the SMS pull model.
  • Deal Classification– There are all kinds of deals – discounts, future-use coupons, lucky draws, spot wins, campaigns, etc. On the website, at least, I should be able to drilldown to specific deal categories too. I might be more intersted in a 25% discount on clothes than on a win a trip to Singapore!! I would love to see this on the mobile too, in conjuction with “top deals” filtering; but there is always a trade-off between feature & usability on the mobile phone.
  • Suggest a Deal– As a customer, can I suggest deals for a retail that’s not yet / not so frequently covered by mKhoj? Till that point when mKhoj has covered a significant section of the retail base, this is not just a nice feature, this also highlights gaps in meeting customers’ expectations. For example, I see no deals on “books” or “harry potter” yet!!

Related: offersforshoppers interview

tags: mkhoj, local deal search

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