Betting on the need for cross-selling online

Betting on the need for cross-selling online

Saurabh Nangia, founder of Nexus Ventures-backed TargetingMantra, wants to bet on the e-commerce wave and offer personalization, up-selling and cross-selling tech tools to portals. A key trick up his sleeve: past experience as a software engineer in Amazon’s personalization team

S. MEERA

Businesses that understand their customers, anticipate their needs and cater to their preferences have succeeded in winning loyalty. Generally, successful salesmen have the opportunity to interact with their customers personally, build a rapport and provide value-added services based on unspoken requirements. With the growth of the telecommunication and technology solutions, organisations find that the need to meet their clients personally is coming down. Most customers prefer to shop from the comfort of their homes, browsing online stores and making their choice without feeling the need to talk to a salesman.

While this has helped organisations in expanding markets without investing in manpower, the advantage is offset by the fact that they miss out on the valuable insights personal interactions can reveal regarding customer expectations. This denies them the opportunity to right sell, upsell and cross sell.

Realising the importance of personalisation, organisations with a strong primary or supplementary web-based commerce are looking for analytics and personalisation solutions to improve customer experience on their portals and thus, enhance loyalty.

Saurabh Nangia, who is an alumnus of IIT-Guwahati and University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign and has worked in Amazon building engines for cross-recommendations, studied the Indian market to see if the time was right for developing a personalisation tool. Realising the need for intelligent tools to support and enhance e-commerce he started TargetingMantra in 2013. The company develops products to track user behaviour on a site and make recommendations of relevant content based on individual preferences. Different tools have been developed to cater to different types of sites – e-commerce where the focus is products and other news and content sites.

In October 2014, Gurgaon-based TargetingMantra raised US $1.1 million (over Rs.6 crore) from investors including Silicon Valley-based 500 Startups, Mumbai-based Nexus Venture Partners and Noida-based One97 Mobility Fund. These funds have been used to build more features into the product as well as expand the team to cater to the company’s international client base.

Stepping it up

When the company started a year ago it strengthened its technology team since product development was the core focus. Marketing was through awareness building on the need and benefits of deploying the tools.

Now, the company has customers across the globe, in developed and developing markets. It is therefore in the process of strengthening its marketing team to cater to the local markets where it has a significant presence. The first such office has already been established in Mountain View, California.

“The hiring process is very slow and steady. Though there is enough talent in the market there are many opportunities too. Our strength is our fast pace of growth and the fact that we are in the space of developing products,” explains Nangia. Currently, the engineering and marketing teams are in an 80:20 ratio.

Personalising the online experience

The tools developed by TargetingMantra work by tracking individual users and their behaviour on a specific site. Using this information, similar content or product recommendations are generated that could be of interest to the user to retain their interest, also converting this to a sale where it is relevant.

Another tracking option is to correlate the individual’s browsing pattern to similar browsing by different people and cross-refer to other types of content based on how such individuals moved on the site.

The products are modular and the websites can choose the features they are interested in and upgrade when required. As a result of implementing these tools, sites can experience as much as 17 per cent increase in conversion rates, 18 per cent higher order value and a resultant improvement in revenues up to 19 per cent.

TargetingMantra also offers an omni channel product synchronising for browsing on the mobile with other devices the user owns. This way, a process that one begins on a particular site on one device is visible on the other device, ensuring a seamless transition without having to start from scratch. For example, if a user was in the process of checking out ticket availability for a movie on the mobile, when he/she accesses the site on a laptop, he/ she can continue clicking on the movie of choice without having to start the process from the beginning.

The company has filed a patent for this feature and is in the process of adding more such features, which will enhance user experience. Its recent funding is also being used for filing for patents – three in India and a couple in the US. Since the company is generating sufficient revenues, it is cash sufficient and unlikely to seek another round of funding in the near future.

At present, TargetingMantra has more than 20 personalisation solutions covering machine learning, omni channel and targeted email marketing.

Scaling up

The company has 40 customers across the globe currently. Fifteen of top 25 mid-to-large e-commerce sites from India are its customers. It plans to target smaller sites as well. While Indian customers contribute 50 per cent of the revenues, in the near future, Nangia expects the balance to tilt and more international revenues to start flowing in. While in its initial focus was to test and succeed in the Indian market, with its increasing foothold in international markets, TargetingMantra is likely to maintain a 60: 40 focus ratio on India and other markets, respectively.

While India will continue to be on the radar, given the potential globally and the agnostic nature of the products, international focus will increase to expand reach and revenues.

In Southeast Asia, TargtingMantra is the first to offer recommendations and survive. “We have no direct competition here,” says a confident Nangia. However, in the developed markets, there is heavy competition but he believes the high relevance of the recommendations from TargetingMantra’s products will make a difference. Also the omni channel product will give it good traction. TargetingMantra is pursuing semi-large organisations which are as yet untouched.

The company has set revenue and market penetration milestones that Nangia is holding close to his chest. Travel, news, products, blogs – any site that has content of any sort would be a prospective client and it will target the different segments steadily as the goal is to make TargetingMantra the de facto standard for personalised online solutions.


Snapshot

TargetingMantra

Founded in: Oct 2013

Founded by: Saurabh Nangia

Funded by: 500 Startups, Nexus, One97

Core focus: Personalisation tool for online businesses


KEY TAKEAWAYS

Time your product or service right

Keep a finger on the pulse to catch upcoming trends and be the first mover to capitalise on these

Understand your customer requirements well and fit in the right features

Focus on a prime market, get your basics right, get traction before spreading out

Ecommerce Nexus Venture Partners sales engine sales readiness TargetingMantra

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