Could marketplace and voice-enabled platforms be the next big things in India?

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In India, startup success can be all about context, as businesses need to properly address the local market’s and audience’s needs

In this edition of Venture Upbeat I co-write about the adoption of voice based solution and the marketplace model with Mr. Hemanth Sheelvant and Mr. Ragavendra Prabhakar from Bezirk, A Bosch Global Startup.

Marketplace: A place to be, or not?

The marketplace model is a very volatile model, which requires a deep understanding of the customer needs as well as business acumen to address the requirements of the marketers. High perseverance and sales analysis are important for its success.

Producers bringing in the consumers is the key to whether your business model can create a win-win situation for all of stakeholders involved. Maintaining transparency in the entire flow of the value chain is important.

Also read: Airbnb continues to drive value with Trips, and here are 3 things marketplaces can learn in dominating a niche

Building trust by making it free initially is important, and so is the transition to the revenue generating phase. How long you wait, and how quickly you can get into revenue generation, should be the focus of your strategy.

How to provide a seamless and better transaction experience and understanding of the need for easy adoption should be your focus.

Given the rise of AI in consumer-engagement platforms, the question also arises: Do we use chatbots or voice-based systems?

How about the integration of these? Are you targeting partners by building an ecosystem? Or are you targeting a standalone solution? These are key decision points to be made.

Overall, it’s about end-consumers being at the forefront of the model. Your business is in how you can impact the consumers’ lifestyle.

The India context and the voice-based solution

Considering diverse demographic and literacy rate, voice-based interfaces to Applications can be critical in the Indian context.

This will increase the adoption rate from an Indian consumer point of view.

It can bring down barriers to adoption. With voice-based solutions, you are reducing the adoption barrier, especially in the Indian context where your grandparents and middle aged people are not tech savvy.

Dr. Samarjit Das, a researcher in audio analytics, has this to say: “Audio is fundamental to our own perception capabilities. It can also be the same for machines: to perceive the users, to understand their intentions. Voice-based interaction systems enable just that. Systems like these can be thought of as a fluid, ubiquitous interface between the users and the cyber-physical world.”

There is always an inhibition to adopt new technology, thus an increased use of voice-based solutions would be good way forward.

Also read: If the US does not want Indian professionals it is okay, says Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu

Voice based personal assistants are here to stay, and how it is tailor made to Indian market with ability to understand various dialects holds the key.

Marketplace models: volume vs. value

A marketplace model that delivers just an app that does nothing else than aggregation will not be a sustainable one.

Solving the real problem of ease of use and thus increasing the adoption of technology by catering to local markets would be important.

The best marketplace models have average basket sizes and high frequency. Take the example of Airbnb.

A consumer would have fewer transactions in a year but value of transactions is higher.

In the Indian context, probably a mixed model might work. Volume definitely plays a major role here and how you can deal with the fragmented market and capture that.

The consumer wants you to meet his trust and exceed his needs. If supply chain is part of the marketplace model, then on-time delivery to customers becomes important.

Replicating the marketplace in a different geography

Take the example of Oyo Rooms vs. Airbnb. Probably the strategy of listing hotels makes better sense in India than residential places at this stage. So it cannot be a straight fit. Each market would need to cater to local consumer preferences. Even Airbnb is testing the market in India before it expands.

You need to keep expanding your services to stay relevant. Ola has Ola play, and so others have to keep coming up with their own portfolio.

Another example is self-driven car rental company Zoomcar, which plans to reduce its existing fleet of cars and focus on the marketplace model only. Yes, cost is a major consideration in this kind of business. Focussing on core services which are the main ingredients of your value proposition is the key to gaining value.

In the end, you might still get the initial funding, but sustaining the growth driven model is something which would require you to carve out the niche.

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The views expressed here are of the author’s, and e27 may not necessarily subscribe to them. e27 invites members from Asia’s tech industry and startup community to share their honest opinions and expert knowledge with our readers. If you are interested in sharing your point of view, submit your post here.

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