The biggest trouble I’ve had buying on online marketplaces, is that the sellers (especially the smaller ones) look shady. It would have helped if I could see who really is the seller. Now you could either trust the marketplace or try and find out how good the seller is from someone who has bought from them already. Surely, this is a problem others have faced too. Xarato, a new online marketplace wants to solve this problem with the help of Facebook integration.
The company has created a platform where small sellers and buyers are not merely online identities but linked to their social media profiles. “If this results in a buildup of trust to a degree where people can transact directly with each other, we will have achieved our purpose,” says Chandan Jaiswal, one of the co-founders of the company.
Sellers can sign in with their Facebook ID and start selling on the site in just a few simple steps. A verification step makes sure that the seller is authentic. One might wonder if the company isn’t a bit too late to enter the e-commerce space? But there’s still lots of headroom for growth, says Jaiswal. Xarato will focus on creative businesses alone, and provide a platform to as many craftsmen as possible, directly or indirectly, but preferably directly, he says. Facebook sellers are mostly really small with no space for any scale. Of course this can afford them growth opportunity, but may also present a fulfilment challenge for Xarato at any scale.
The company plans to acquire users from Facebook mostly. Sellers are encouraged to list with their Facebook profiles on the site.
The home page , with a pinterest like layout, shows items ranked in order of popularity. As a shopper, one can click on the “Love” icon to indicate it as a favourite. The startup is working on other personalisation features as well. Shoppers can specify favourite categories they wish to see in their feed. They can follow sellers they like to view these products in their feed and get updates and notifications by email.
Most of the site’s traffic (a few thousands) comes from Facebook. Xarato is in its third month after launch and is on track to cross Rs 1 lakh worth of transactions a month. “The shoppers are still feeling us out as we are a relatively new name,” says Jaiswal who expects the average transaction value to go up in the coming days.
Xarato contacts sellers with a Facebook business page, identifies influencers & leaders in different categories and tries to get them onboard. [Suggested Read: The Rise of Facebook Search]
There are a bunch of social commerce platforms in India like Wooplr, which promotes offline discovery and Klip, an angel backed company. Trol.ly, a product by ex Googlers, had tried something interesting with Facebook and its Guess the price game, but it looks like it didn’t work out. Venture backed Limeroad has an interesting play on social media to make their site more engaging.