Startup promises to enhance e-shopping with price discovery

With the increasing number of e-commerce websites selling essentially the same products, it’s standard practice to use price discovery and comparison tools to limit the time we spend searching for the best price of a commodity.

Earlier this year, London-based vSolv Technologies Ltd developed a meta search engine Pricematch to aid users in price discovery. The software company also has an office in DHA, Lahore. Its founders are Sajid Mushtaq, a managing director with over 11 years experience in the software and web application development industry, and business manager Khalid Mushtaq, who handles marketing and business development.

Khalid says, ‘The idea of Pricematch struck back in 2014 while searching for mobile phone[s] online. There were some very good online websites offering attractive prices, but we were unable to search the whole online market due to our limited time’.

Funded by Mushtaq and Mushtaq’s company, Khalid says the biggest challenge to creating this platform was developing the backend to automatically update prices for some 3,000 products in their database on a daily basis. As of now, Pricematch collects information on 20 online retailers for a range mobile phones, laptops, digital cameras, TVs and data packages. Interestingly, the site also aggregates tech news from sites like Techradar and Phandroid, something you don’t commonly see with run-of-the-mill price discovery platforms. Khalid admits there are sites that compare prices of mobile phones, but none are as expansive as Pricematch. He says, ‘We plan to expand our product range into other categories like fashion, home appliances, electronic accessories, & etc. We are looking to partner with more online retailers who will benefit from our services so that customers have access to best available rates online.’

Pricematch is a simple, user-friendly site with a clean design. Fairly utilitarian, it isn’t bogged down by advertisements or cluttered with unnecessary information. Users get exactly what they want: information about a product; reviews by users; a list of retailers with their latest prices; and an option to compare up to four products. The website is mobile friendly, and the duo are looking to develop a mobile app soon. How useful will an app be in already cluttered app stores is up for debate. Pricematch might be more than useful if it allowed purchases from e-commerce portals through it, but that isn’t what price discovery platform do as of now. But it’s fair to ask these days: how many apps does a user need to have on her smartphone to enjoy a seamless, smart, diverse and productive shopping experience?

Pricematch has all the features that make price discovery platforms. Yet, there is still room for improvement. Across the border, BuyHatke, for instance, has a Chrome plugin that allows users to see price fluctuations in the product on e-commerce websites; recommendations on when it’s best to buy the product; ability to search by selecting the BuyHatke option in a context menu; and coupons. In the same way, Pricematch could coherently insert itself into all of Pakistan’s popular e-commerce websites like Homeshopping, Shophive, Symbios or Hafeezcentre, and international ones like Amazon and eBay.

There are many clever ways that can make users’ shopping experience seamless, fast and rich through apps. At some point, Internet shoppers wouldn’t want to hop from link to link to finally get to an e-commerce website that sells products at prices they prefer. They would also like to avoid having a dozen shopping apps on their phones. How far along will these portals and their app versions “stick” is wholly dependent on the way online shopping and smartphone use evolve. For now, we wait for Pricematch, an important consequence of e-commerce, to release their app, hopefully with extended features to enhance customer experience.

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