Interview: Storrz - It's about social shopping

By : praval

storrz The next next in our interview series is Storrz, a JustOnDemand initiative which has an impressive social shopping innovation. It was interesting to know about online interactions, thoughts, debates and then buying the product - all at a single domain! Chandan Maruthi, the man who conceptualized Storrz, shared some of his thoughts on a plethora of topics. Chandan has well defined Storrz as an online shopping mall. In his words,

In the real world we saw that shopping malls did this successfully and we wanted to replicate the same for the Internet.

 I would like to share few questions Storrz enjoyed replying to,

How do you define Storrz and JustOnDemand?

JustOnDemand technologies is the registered name of the company. Storrz is the social marketplace that we have launched at JustOnDemand Technologies Pvt Ltd.

Whose brainchild is Storrz? Did it come out of passion or was it a true business goal?

Storrz is the brainchild of Chandan Maruthi. Having worked at a major IT Outsourcing company for 5 years, Chandan to the plunge into Storrz in Jan 2008. The idea for Storrz came from the need to provide consumers and merchants and platform conducive for doing business online. We wanted to provide consumers a platform that would complement real world shopping and provide merchants a good way to reach consumers . In the real world we saw that shopping malls did this successfully and we wanted to replicate the same for the Internet. The shopping mall has been the inspiration behind Storrz and all our efforts are towards providing consumers and merchants a better place to meet and transact.

Social networking is pretty dominant over the Internet these days. Could you smell this before hand and hence adapted consumer products to get a social flavor?

Our objective from day one has been to recreate the shopping mall online. And as shopping malls happen to be platforms where people hangout and socialize, the social aspect became a natural component. In real life we like to take suggestions, feedback and approval from peers, friends and family for our purchases. Shopping in real life is a social activity as we rarely go shopping alone. We are often accompanied by people who can help us make better shopping decisions. However this was missing in e-commerce platforms. Storrz Social Marketplaces tries to make shopping as close to real life experience as possible.

How do you stand out amongst a plethora of similar services one would be coming across over the Internet?

While there are social networking sites and social discovery sites. There are few (none to our knowledge) social shopping markets. Kaboodle which is a very interesting social discovery site allows people to find interesting things on the Internet. However such sites have a problem. While they do the discovery part well, customers have to leave the site and visit other sites to make purchase. While consumers trust Kaboodle they may not trust the other site and may break the shopping cycle. At Storrz this is solved by enabling the entire purchase within the storrz platform itself. A customer never leaves the safety of Storrz during the shopping cycle.

I remember you guys rock at Proto. How much did your presence at proto affect the business? Any statistics you can share with us?

Proto was a good platform to showcase. We has a good number of people from online media speak to us. We shortly got featured on Mashable, Webyantra, Headstart and many more sites. As we are a self funded startup we do not do any marketing and all our visitors are completely organic. Coverage by the media is probably the only way people get to know about us as a company. And we appreciate it.

How did Storrz get bootstrapped, if it did?

From day one we were clear on bootstrapping. For the most part of the first year our costs were less than what a engineer make in a month. Chairs for rs250/- tables for rs1000/-, computers on rent, servers on rent, free and rented s/w. Going forward we will appreciate better offices, but it is never something that bothers us. Sometimes it’s better to have a fun team in a small place that a huge team in posh offices that really don’t work as a team. Our staff multitasks. Our engineers seamlessly shift between writing cutting edge AJAX code to speaking to customers on our customer service helpline. Now we don’t expect that to happen in large setups. So we really love and team and appreciate what they do.

What I could make out is you’re a Bangalore-only service. Any plans to spread out? If yes, How?

Storrz has been an all India service . We have not done any marketing/communication so many of our customers are from Bangalore. But we have reached most of India via deliveries from J&K to Tamilnadu.

How do you manage the delivery of items and consumer queries? Are there any call centers you’ve hired?

As mentioned our team doubles as customer support reps. Going forward we will have dedicated support personnel. Our team is fully empowered to take decisions and are instructed to solve the problem whatever the case is. With respect to delivery our merchants deliver orders themselves. We have defined a clear process in which we forward orders to the merchants who deliver the products and then get payments from Storrz every week.

What kind of revenue model do you stick yourselves to? How good has it been by now?

Our primary revenue model is commission on transactions. We also make money from premium services provided to merchants and white label solutions that allow merchants to sell on then own site and URL. Business has been steady and some of our merchants have told us that they sell twice as much at storrz.com than their own online stores. The trust level at Storrz is higher.

What's the biggest surprise you've had in the business recently?

Sometimes customers surprise us with what they buy. We personally were not very sure of how many people would buy medical electronics or fresh groceries. However these stores have done pretty well and we are still learning the changing consumer behavior.

What are the top-3 learning experiences at Storrz?

  • User workshops, they are like an explosion of knowledge. Stuff that seem simple may be confusing to consumers.
  • Help thy customer. Consumers just want to be served fairly. And if you do it right they keep coming back.
  • Don’t underestimate what consumers will buy online. They will always surprise you.

What is next on agenda for Storrz? Any new year surprises for the consumers?

We are working on some very smart improvements aimed improving the shopping experience and the experience. Also, merchants will be able to get greater control on how they are presented to consumers. We are very excited and are in the process of testing and launching new features.

Your most memorable day at Storrz?

It’s the day we got our first order. We had launched the platform and our team had gone to the JogFalls for a trip. The very next day, a Saturday, we got our first order. So I myself went along with our delivery executive we picked up the order from the merchant and delivered it to the customer personally. The merchant was excited and we had a hurray at the store and the customer was happy with the service and excited that such a service was launched in India.

Topics : interviews

Comments

Rizwan

:) Like the story....reminds me of us at places, we are a very similar company bootstrapped in an office in Andheri (Bombay).....I liked your site as well. Am definitely gonna buy from storrz :)

As a feedback, I had a problem loading your site, the loading bar just hangs in the center of the screen and doesn't go; even on refreshing the page, it appears again.

commmenttor
ffasa
Chandan

dear rizwan,
thank you for the feedback. We are working one interesting new stuff which will be launched soon. And yes the loading bar has been fixed and should be launched withing 24 hrs with our version update

regards
chandan maruthi

commmenttor
ffasa
Comments Name :

Email :

Your site url:

Comment :

© Copyright I Can Has Startup | Powered byAGILIQ