In a world where selling products online is now an everyday norm, there are some who are innovating at the other end of the spectrum beyond the buy/sell model i.e collaborative consumption. While the principle of exchange programs is certainly not a new one, in India it’s in the growth stage.
In an exclusive interview, Jaipur-based Faida.com‘s co-founder Vipul Paliwal talks to Radhika Sharma about its cashless marketplace model, the need for good customer experience and trends in the e commerce sector today. Vipul has specialized in Strategic Management from the London School Of Economics and believes that the current market conditions in India are great for any entrepreneur!
Q: Let’s go back to the beginning. Where did the idea of an old school barter portal come from?
Vipul Paliwal: Faida.com was founded with a vision to offer a win-win experience to its consumers/users through a unique market place model. Gaurav is the brain behind this unique concept. While in America, Gaurav realized that unlike in the US, Indians are much more attached to their stuff and seldom throw it away. It is here, that the old concept of barter came to mind. This would help us declutter our homes and exchange items we don’t need and at the same time help recycle too!
Q: Take us through the technology used behind Faida. How do you curate the listings and work out the intricate details? Tell us about the recommendation engine.
VP: The site has been built with node.js with supporting language, html, css, js, jq and sql. We have also used some of the API’s from Google, Facebook etc. The listings currently are manually curated. Our Recommendation Engine makes it easy for people to browse through the products that they want in exchange of their listings. The engine is smart enough to ensure that the recommendations are tweaked according to your listed products.
Q: What kind of items are exchanged/swapped/sold/brought most on your site. Give us the main categories.
VP: This is a totally new concept and we have received fantastic response so far. We have had more than one lac page views so far, and the number of product listings is growing by the day. Practically anything and everything is up for barter. Electronic items and décor related products are hot on the exchange list. The top categories are:
1) Mobiles and tablets
3) Music, movie and gaming
5) Books and services
6) Clothing, language and accessories
7) Office and Stationery
8) Sports, fitness and outdoor
9) Kitchen and dining
10)Kids and baby items
Q: How do you ensure safety of customer and Product in these exchanges?
VP: We are a Marketplace model where we bring people who have common interests / products to exchange together. Therefore, technically we do not have any answerability towards the legal aspect of the business. The people meet amongst themselves and decide on their own about whether they want to go ahead after checking the condition of the product in question, and then mutually transfer ownership. When the users have exchanged the items they can go back to the website and inform the deal is done to earn points and with these points they can get interesting Faida merchandises.
Q: How many people are currently bartering products on the site?
VP: We have more than 7000 items listed on our site for bartering and the number is constantly growing. As of now, we are closing deals @ 2% of listings, but the rate will soon increase once the site is populated with more such listings. Our campaign will bgin soon and we expect to see more than 50000 listings on the site.
Q: Where do you think the e-commerce sector is headed in India? What can we expect in the next decade or so? Any revolutionary changes?
VP: E-commerce is reaching its peak at this moment. But e-commerce will soon be replaced by m-commerce in the near future. With the kind of revolution that we have noticed in the past few years, we can surely expect massive changes for the future.
Q: What are your expansion plans? What can we expect next from Faida.com?
VP: Faida.com was founded in the March 2015 and so far, we have been going as per plans. We are continuously improving our UI based on user feedback and introducing many new features in the site, like chat and online help. We shall also be coming up with our app in some time.