It was about nine months ago when we first covered Shopious, Indonesia’s C2C fashion marketplace. The co-founders looked solid with an interesting business model, and we were looking forward to see how Shopious would progress. Now the word is out; Shopious has pivoted to become an Instagram fashion store aggregator. How is this business model better than the previous one?
The transformation began in October. Previously, Shopious was a platform that let merchants create fashion stores on the Shopious website, so Shopious was responsible for facilitating the transactions. While the idea sounds easy enough, the execution meant a lot of tedious effort.
CTO Aditya Herlambang explains three problems with the previous C2C marketplace model: First, sellers weren’t quick to update their products (understandably, they may have a lot of marketplace accounts to update). Second, Shopious didn’t hold any inventory nor did they have full understanding whether a particular product would fit the customers well. Third, most buyers contacted Shopious instead of the sellers, so it was quite exhausting handling all the customer service.
After listening to feedback from their sellers to the problems faced by the ladies on forums, Shopious decided to pivot. It now aggregates fashion shops on Instagram onto the Shopious platform. Shopious no longer handles any transactions. Herlambang explains while this model has its advantages, it also has its own set of issues:
There are tons of potential customers in Instagram, but the store visibility is hindered by the structure of the social network itself. For example, your friends and friends’ friends are the only ones who can see your product. We are trying to eliminate this and increase the visibility through Shopious.
According to Herlambang, there are about 500,000 Instagram sellers in Indonesia focused on selling fashion items. Why not prioritize Facebook first? Because the team believes that Instagram is more hip for fashion e-commerce nowadays. The team will start aggregating Facebook online shops soon.
With the new business model, customers contact the sellers directly. Merchants on Shopious don’t need to manually update product stock because any Instagram updates on the sellers’ part will automatically be updated on Shopious. The team now has a simpler business model and can focus on user acquisition.
Aggregating photo captions
Shopious’ new site looks very simple: there are fashion products listed on the homepage, as well as product categories on the left side. One thing that customers need to bear in mind is that Shopious is an online shopping catalogue; it doesn’t hold any inventory. So all transactions will happen outside Shopious.
When you click on a product listing, you will see general description of the product as explained by the seller. There’s no way to contact the sellers directly on the site, so customers can only drop in their contacts like BBM, Twitter, and Line, as well as their questions on Shopious. Then Shopious will then give the sellers’ contact information to the customers.
You can expect to see inconsistent product descriptions on Shopious. Some sellers list the product price, some don’t. Some sellers don’t even put much of a description at all. The descriptions aren’t tidy, either, because the sellers put all the information into one paragraph.
Herlambang explains two reasons for this. First, the descriptions are derived from the pictures’ captions on Instagram. “And maybe the reason that seller did not give a complete description is because of Indonesians’ buyer mentality of asking first and read later,” he adds.
My way or the highway
The business model is quite simple: sellers pay a monthly subscription. Merchants who want to list 10 product photos pay an IDR 35,000 ($3) monthly fee or IDR 50,000 ($4) for 20 photos.
To get merchants to pay up, first, Shopious lists sellers and their products for free. Second, when customers start commenting that they want to buy the products, Shopious will contact the seller to start paying the subscription. Third, if sellers don’t want to pay, they’ll immediately get kicked out of Shopious. Ouch.
Herlambang says they want to charge the merchants from the get go to weed out the serious sellers from the ones who just sell for fun and scammers. Right now, Shopious has about 1,000 sellers offering more than 10,000 products. Out of those, the company already has 100 paying merchants.
This fresh business model, despite its hang ups, could be a new trend where merchants on Instagram have the option to sell their items to non-Instagram users.
(Editing by Paul Bischoff)