Merchandizing online, the Vendio way

Date:   Friday , November 02, 2007

Two college mates, who have decided to share an apartment, are on a cyber shopping spree. They are busy collecting the necessary items to set up their home and are looking for best online shopping deals. Instead of logging onto every single shopping portal, they log on to powered by Vendio, where they get a comparative price list of products from all major online shopping sites. It allows individuals to see lists of prices for specific products by sourcing prices from etailers from whom shoppers can buy. They decide to go for a refrigerator through shopzilla, laptop through eBay, and a wooden file cabinet from Staples online store. Happy with the result of their search, they make the payment for the products online with their credit card and the products reach their doorstep in a week’s time.

At the other end, when these young pals make the payment through the payment gateway, the seller gets instant alert at his inventory system. It automatically takes note of the order and starts executing the order. Automated customer communication keeps buyers informed effortlessly at each stage till the product reaches their door steps. Once the order is executed, it also ensures the restocking of the product and issues automatic feed back form to buyers to understand the customer experience.

With the internet boom in the late 90’s, online shopping has really caught up with buyers, and an array of shopping portals has mushroomed. Sellers began vying with each other to attract customers and increase their profits. Today the sector has broadened so vastly that the portals now benchmark not only on the best deals but also on order execution, the time frame to that, and on overall customer experience. Realizing this potential market, Vendio made its entry into the ecommerce solutions market in 1998 with products and services to help ecommerce merchants to reach customers, manage transactions, and profitably grow business. Initially, the company focused on sellers at eBay helping them to manage inventory, merchandise and sell on eBay effectively. Over time, they have successfully integrated with other emerging and growing marketplaces like Amazon, Yahoo and comparative shopping engines such as Bizrate, Shopping.Com, Shopzilla, Froogle and their own storefronts to provide a truly Multi-Channel Sales Automation software. Today, Vendio has grown from one of eBay’s first developer partners into an award-winning innovator across the Web’s leading marketplaces.

This emerging ecommerce space is exciting to the team of Engineers at Vendio’s India center and they are focused on making the space a more exciting one to the buyers and sellers. They have built products like the Sales Manager, Stores, Research, and Customer manager, apart from others. “The online shopping market continues to grow significantly with more and more new viable channels emerging and hence there is a huge opportunity for a multi-channel Sales automation & optimization for Merchants” says Ravi Garikipati, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Vendio India Operations.

The sales management tools of Vendio help customers in many ways. Besides automatically updating the products and ensuring that items are available to buyers at all times, it also gives restock alert reminders when inventory levels reach a preset trigger point. Through Vendio’s Sales Manager account the seller can access and manage sales for two or more separate eBay IDs. The Stores application of Vendio helps sellers use a single inventory system to manage both online auctions and stores. Stores also help sellers reach more buyers by distributing items to Google Product Search, Shopzilla, and The Customer Manager software integrated with eBay, automatically imports a record of every customer, sale, and email for all items closed using Sales Manager. This helps the merchant to find the details of a past sale or answer a customer inquiry quickly. Thanks to the sales management tools powered by Vendio, more than 70,000 online sellers across the world have been able to enhance customer experience and maximize their profits.

In addition to developing sales management tools, the company is looking into expanding its comparative price service portal with more features and functionalities, taking into consideration the fact that the comparative price service industry is growing at 30 - 50 percent every year. The company is now working on developing context sensitive Ad Engine for its Comparative Search Site which should improve the conversion and there by the sell-thru rates for the sellers at this marketplace.

“However, any sales management tool is not complete without a market intelligence module to help the seller make the right business decisions”, explains Garikipati. Vendio Research provides sellers with information on pricing, volumes, success rate graphs, measures of demand, category trends, and other key metrics. To deliver these analytics, Vendio Research analyzes over a billion items sold on the online marketplace eBay using its proprietary analytical engine.

The marketplace offers a lot of unstructured data along with the conventional structured data explains Garikipati. “We tap these data and analyze using proprietary clustering and classification technology to be able to derive the ‘non-obvious’ market intelligence” he explains. The Research tool helps the seller to identify the day and time that will get him the best price or increased sales, know the category that will get the most bids and the highest price, and also understand which type of listing (e.g. fixed price, auction) will get the best results. It also helps him to save important research data in folders for easy future retrieval.

Building such robust applications to help vendors and customers is not an easy task. This is possible only through understanding the customers’ pulse. “Our engineers constantly interact with the customers,” says Garikipati. “This helps them immensely to architect and engineer the products in a manner that is far more responsible and empathetic towards our customers” he adds. Transparency, open communication, equal opportunity, rewards & recognition form the core of Vendio’s organizational culture. The fortnightly ‘brownbag get-togethers’ will enable engineers share their knowledge with one another. The Core Competency Building (CCB) initiative is aimed at providing an opportunity for an individual to identify an area of his/her technology interest and be a subject matter expert within the team over time. At present, Mr Garikipati is looking at expanding his team with the right talent with strong computer science fundamentals and experience in core java, web technologies and distributed database computing to build and enhance its world class products. Vendio is also planning to foray into CRM solutions which should further enhance its customer base as it helps its customers grow their clients using various marketing campaigns.

The company had bagged the eBay star developer award in 2005 and Forbes Best of the Web award in 2004 for its diverse lineup of services for online merchants, including its Vendio Stores and Web Hosting services, as well as its wide range of eBay sales and marketing services such as Image Hosting, Image Watermarking, ZoomStream Images, and Gallery. Vendio also received honorable mention from Forbe for having one of the industry’s best post-sale control panels and for its low and flexible pricing structure. Vendio has made lasting footprints in the ecommerce channel management/automation industry and the company’s future plan and roadmap suggests greater prospects further on.

Founded: 1998
Headcount: 200
Corporate Office: San Mateo
Other Offices: Bangalore, Bucharest
Vertical: Comparision Shopping Engine, Multi-Channel Sales Automation, Hosted Storefront Solutions