With fire sales and all the negativity around ecommerce in India, this may not be the best time to start a new online commerce site. But then, the startup world never fails to surprise. It is now time for E-commerce 2.0, says Sujayath Ali who launched his new e-commerce venture less than three months ago.
Ali, a former executive at the financial services company Visa has already had a few overtures. “We were just a month old and people were asking us if could merge with us,” he says describing the state of ecommerce in India. No surprises there.
But amid all this, Ali’s confidence in his new venture Voonik, is surprising.
“Who ever survives the tough time, will get their fair share of pie, like how it happened in the US,” says Ali. “Until now, e-commerce in India was about convenience and price. That’s the Amazon philosophy. We don’t want to go there. We want to be about curation, style and personality,” he says.
The fact that his business is new doesn’t mean he is still wet behind the ears. Ali, has spent seven years at Amazon and recently at Visa as the head of the financial services company’s e-commerce division.
Voonik is an e-commerce site which wants to become your personal stylist. It suggests curated e-commerce products based on the type of person the buyer is and the occasion it works for.
The startup began from an idea that struck a long time ago. Ali observed that most people have no clue about style.
“In the US, people would look at my shoe and say: Hey, that’s a nice shoe. I didn’t know you played soccer! But I’d just bought the shoe because it was good looking,” he said. Similarly in India, he says, while people from Metros like Delhi and Mumbai know a bit about style, people from other parts are relatively new to many aspects of style. “Our stylists will suggest what’s best for you,” he adds.
We gave the site a spin and found it very interesting. On sign up, it notes your basic profile which includes body type, height etc and the next time onwards, it begins suggesting things you could buy based on your preferences. You could also browse through curated lists such as party wear or office wear and such.
Women, of course, have more ways to describe themselves to the site.
The company makes money from referrals currently but has plans to launch a marketplace model soon. This is quite a different approach to online apparel sales. Like how Fab, which is about curation, style and lesser choices, is different from Amazon which is about price, availability and convenience.
Give Voonik a spin and let us know what you think.