Even as a growing number of customers embrace online shopping (be it for apparels, electronics, even groceries, etc.), many still prefer to visit a physical store for purchases. But there are times when we miss out on lucrative deals because information on offers is not accessible easily. Pipal Tech Ventures Pvt Ltd, a Bangalore-based startup with offices in Delhi and the US, aims to solve this problem with a location-based marketing and commerce platform focused on India (expansion into other Asian countries is also on the cards).
The startup has launched DelightCircle, a smartphone and tablet app that provides information on new arrivals and offers on existing products to the user, for nearby locations. Till recently, the app was available only for the Blackberry and Android platform, but the company has now added an iOS app to the mix (Windows and Symbian apps will follow). The company is targeting users in the 18-35 age group, through the app.
"We provide information in the forms of new arrivals, offers, etc. on products to consumers so that they can take an informed decision before purchasing from a brick-and-mortar store. Our aim is to provide Google-like relevance to the offline world," said Amit Baid, co-founder and CEO, Pipal Tech Ventures.
The startup was founded by Baid, Raviteja Dodda, Smriti Kankariya and Yashwant Kamara in June 2011. Baid holds an MBA degree from the Wharton School and electronics and communications engineering degree from NIT, Trichy. He has earlier worked with companies like Fidelity Investments (vice president) and SAP. Both Dodda and Kamara are IIT Kharagpur alumni. While Dodda has worked at Google and Cisco, Kamara has worked at IBM. Kankariya holds a management degree from Harvard and has worked at Wilis Insurance, Accenture and Susquehenna Investment Bank.
The startup is angel funded as of now- it received $150,000 in June 2011, which was followed by $350,000 in July 2012 (a total of $500,000) from unnamed individuals in the US. As of now, it is looking to raise around $3 million in its first round of funding.
What does it offer?
The free of cost app is available for download from the respective app stores. Once downloaded, the app identifies and selects the user's location automatically on the basis of which it shows new arrivals and offers on products to the users in nearby locations, along with mobile numbers and addresses. They can alternatively search for offers by categories (apparels, electronics, home decor, restaurants, grocery and footwear), brands as well as location.
Apart from all these, users can also earn Delight points by simply inviting new friends, walking in a store or checking out a new arrival inside the store (watch video for more). The startup has also developed a patent pending in-store identification technology that enables it to determine whether or not a user has actually visited a store, which in turn boots in-store marketing.
Once accumulated, the Delight points can be redeemed for real rewards (ranging from a free mobile recharge, a mobile phone to an Apple iPad) or can be donated to social causes (the startup has a tie-up with CRY).
The startup has partnered leading stores including Reliance Digital, Hyper City, Lawrence and Mayo, Reliance Trends and Raymonds. As of now, the app aggregates offers from over 100 brands across the country and provides information on more than 10,000 stores. To reduce the nuisance value, the app is pull-based instead of push-based (which means you will only see the offers when you open the app). Additionally, the app can store the users' loyalty cards in one place, hence removing the need for carrying them around all the time.
"We are also working on a technology that will integrate the user's loyalty cards in such a way that they will be able to view their remaining loyalty points from all the cards in one place," added Baid.
The app, which went live in July 2012, has already crossed the 12,000-user mark.
For revenues, the startup charges retailers a certain amount for featuring them on the app. Additionally, it will also look at providing sponsored content in the app (for example an offer on a Samsung product will be shown before its competitors).
Do you think the app will add value to your shopping experience, do try it out and share your views on the same.
(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)