PepperFry, the eCommerce startup from the ex-Ebay heads, Ambreesh Murty and Ashish Shah, has gone live. The founders, in an interview soon after the $5Mn funding announcement, had mentioned that the venture would be focusing on Lifestyle segment that do not have an organized market or standardized products.
The site currently hosts products in personal accessories and clothing, jewellery and furniture categories. The way Pepperfry’s site is structured would be better compared to a gift store where you don’t enter with a product in mind but with a budget in mind.
The site is ‘beautiful’ and if they are able to build trust with casual visitors, a lot of impulsive purchase would happen. Add some coupons for the discount happy online purchasers and Pepperfry could become the destination for the affluent class and NRIs to send gifts. When I say beautiful design, it is mainly due to the positioning of product images on each page. Given that the website is selling beautiful looking products it is important that the images are given enough real estate, which the site does pretty well. Since the name of the product is really not important here, they are mentioned in smaller fonts. Smaller than most other standard product selling ecommerce sites.
There is one other remarkable difference in Pepperfry’s UI as compared to incumbent players. The “filter by specification” section on the listings page is on the right. This section used to be on top in web1.0 times and then it moved to left for most classifieds/local listing/ecommerce sites. Is it good or bad? Well given their menu is on left, placing any other important thing on the left would put it below the first fold and that would be bad.
That said, the design may not remain as beautiful always. Elements needed to cross sell to the user, like similar products, popular products etc. are still not there. There will be clutter once those elements come in. Product discoverability on the site is a challenge and there is much effort needed on SEO front as well, hence external discoverability is also low. One basic stuff that the site misses is the call-to-action buttons being below the first fold in most product pages.
Also it is difficult to compare prices of even standard products on the site as they do not mention model number of watches etc. in the product name. The few ones we managed to compare are almost same as those on other sites. The checkout is decent and neat (we recommend that the team should remove country selection drop-down as the products are available for shipping in India only).
Few minor things:
1. There is a big “sold out” image that appears for a couple of seconds on the product page while loading on a slow connection. Takes away the trust.
2. Showing sub menus after clicking on expand sign on the homepage would be better than taking me to the master category page. That would bring more structure to the site and less of a gift shop store look. Going on master category page shows all kinds of stuff, in no particular order, which may not give the right visibility to each product category.
3. There should be more science behind each of the filter options. A range scale is a better control for selecting price than pre-defined slabs. Provision to select more than one option for a given filter should also be considered (ixigo does this very well).
No matter what you sell you have to adhere to the standards of platform you are selling on and exploit it to the best. Given that this is a beta release, there are certainly more features and optimization coming in, I believe.
Would I buy stuff for my own use from here? Not sure. Would I try Pepperfry if I have to send a meaningful gift? Certainly.
I wouldn’t have been so critical if this was coming from a newbie but given that there is already so much hype build up around this site, the expectations are higher.
Day 1 Sales Report
Pepperfry claims more than 1,000 transcations on day 1 amounting to sales of INR 5 lakhs – which surely is a lot more than some of the new entrants in ecommerce space (though driven by heavy discounts).
Do try Pepperfry and let us now your views.
[Naman is a startup enthusiast and has worked with couple of Indian startups as Product Manager. He is the founder of FindYogi]