This is how Unbxd could have played hare and tortoise game with eCommerce giants

If Unbxd were a standalone eRetailer, it would have been larger than Flipkart and Snapdeal combined, in terms of the scale of shoppers.
Pavan Sondur, CEO & Co Founder, Unbxd

Started off as an idea in 2011, Unbxd was conceptualized of the need to resolve the challenges pertaining to online shopping experience amidst the burgeoning eCommerce industry in India. If Unbxd were a standalone eRetailer, we would today be larger than Flipkart and Snapdeal combined, in terms of the scale of shoppers, says Pavan Sondur, CEO & Co Founder, Unbxd in a candid interaction with Retailer. While document search was a relatively easy problem to solve, product search on eCommerce websites was a completely different ballgame, adds Sondur.

What is the need you are addressing in the market?

Search is an unsolved problem in ecommerce. Online retailers are losing significant revenue every day because they are not able to connect their visitors to the products they are most likely to buy. There is due to two primary reasons:

●             Visitors are not able to find what they are looking for (due to poor search results and navigation)

●             Websites are not doing a good job of understanding visitor preferences to recommend the right products

We came to the realisation that it was actually easier to find products on Google than on the websites offering them. That is why we developed a product which makes the experience of finding products on eCommerce websites a pleasant one. Our goal is simple: provide the tools that marketers and merchandisers need to help customers find what they're looking for.

How is Unbxd creating a difference in the retail ecosystem?

By assimilating innovation, accuracy and enhanced relevance, we are helping eCommerce companies, regardless of their size to optimise user interactions with their website, enhance conversions, subsequently increasing the sales volume. By allowing the online merchants to target users as per their past behavior and track the way users are interacting with the shopping portal, Unbxd has become a market leader in eCommerce product discovery.

We provide highly evolved personalisation and search functionalities, empowering eCommerce businesses of all sizes. As of today, we help companies solve search and other queries for over 200 million eCommerce shoppers in a month.

Is there a story behind the name you have given to your business?

When we started this company, we wanted its name to reflect the fact that our solution was definitely an out-of-the-box idea. This gave birth to the name Unboxed, where the vowels were eventually dropped over time, to finally be called Unbxd. And given the fact that in retail, the eventual goal of a buyer is to ‘unbox’ or ‘unwrap’ their purchase, we felt the name was appropriate.

What is your Business Model? Please share numbers of founders, Product/services offered and current Business size.

Customers pay a recurring fee to use our Software as a Service (SaaS) platform, to power product search and discovery on their own eCommerce stores. We started out as an India-centric company, driven by the growth of eCommerce in the country. Today while we continue to power half of India’s top 10 online retailers, over 85 per cent of our revenue comes from the US, the largest retail market in the world.

If Unbxd were a standalone eRetailer, we would today be larger than Flipkart and Snapdeal combined, in terms of the scale of shoppers. And we are on track to grow 10X this year.

Who is your target consumer? Could you please share how you have detailed your consumer?

Our target customers are merchandisers, category managers, marketing managers, and business heads at eCommerce companies, or online retailing divisions of Omni-channel retailers of all sizes. While top line growth through better merchandising is the primary concern for smaller retailers, we have noticed that mid to large sized retailers wish to improve their user experience and shorten their visitors’ path to purchase.

Talk to us about the ongoing trends of product discovery-based eComm industry?

If we look at some of the latest trends in eCommerce, we would say personalisation and relevance are 2 key trends which can act as differentiators for eCommerce sites. And when we say personalization, we mean more than just the browsing history of website visitors.

For example, if you’re a fashion retailer and a visitor is logged into their account, personalisation means providing the visitor with a tailored shopping experience, depending on the segments they belong to – such as age, gender, device types, location, or the trending products.

Over the past year, we have seen an increasing number of buyers discovering products through their mobile devices. Mobile commerce is on the verge of overtaking the desktop, which has made it essential for eCommerce companies to optimize their merchandising and user experience for mobile based shoppers. Another important trend is using data analytics to improve decision making. With advanced real time analytics, retailers can see how customers react while on the site.

Have you raised any funding so far. What are your plans to use this funding for?

We are backed by Nirvana Venture Advisors, IDG Ventures and Inventus Capital, and also, have recently closed the series B round of funding. We are utilizing the funds in scaling the product, enhancing the existing infrastructure and getting the right talent on-board to further escalate and expedite the business and operations at Unbxd.

Share your plans towards expansion into Tier II and III cities of the country?

Additionally, with the proliferation of eCommerce in India, online retail is not restricted to Tier I cities. We are seeing an influx of eCommerce ventures in Tier II and Tier III cities as well. As a retail tech company, we partner with online retailers of all sizes, to enable these them to expand to all parts of our country, reaching out to much wider audience of shoppers.

While our India operations are based in Bangalore, we understand that there is immense talent in our Tier II and Tier III cities. This is why we ensure we don't restrict our hiring to larger cities, and hire people with the the hunger to succeed, irrespective of where they are from.

What has been your biggest challenge so far? How are you addressing it?

The challenges we have faced so far are similar to any tech startup that wants to build a scalable global technology business based in India. However, we have managed to overcome these challenges through clarity and focus. Breaking down these challenges into multiple and simpler tasks has helped us overcome all of them, one at a time.

How do you see growth scenario in this business?

If Unbxd were a standalone eRetailer, we would today be larger than Flipkart and Snapdeal combined, in terms of the scale of shoppers. And we are on track to grow our revenue 10X this year.

The Unbxd platform is founded on a deep understanding of shoppers. Understanding their wants, needs, habits and preferences through numerous data signals helps us provide shoppers with the most relevant and easy shopping experience. And this is a system that is continuously learning and adapting to changes. We continue to invest our resources towards this objective.

Pavan Sondur