The Malayala Manorama Group is all set to launch an online pre-shopping guide titled MShopping.com for Kerala in July. The site will initially focus on consumer durable products, and will later add the automobile category as well.
The new site will be on the lines of Amazon.com and Naaptol.com, where prospective buyers across Kerala will be able to compare rates at different dealers. Talking about the site, Mathew C, deputy general manager, marketing, Malayala Manorama, says, "The biggest difference between Mshopping and other sites will be that we will have lots of dealer partnerships. Kerala is a big market for consumer durables and automobiles and there isn't anyone who focuses on this market in these segments here. Therefore, we decided to fill the demand-supply gap."
MShopping.com will be in English and will cater to anyone interested in buying consumer durable products in the state. "During festivals, especially Onam, the market is flooded with offers but neither the dealers nor the customers have the time and energy to check out each one of them. This is where Mshopping will step in. We have timed the launch in such a way that by the time Onam shopping starts, everyone will be aware of the site."
The revenue model for the site will be majorly dependent on advertisements, including banner ads and premier listings. However, regular listings will be free of cost.
Discussing the viability of a state-specific online shopping guide, Mathew informs that there are 22 lakh unique visitors for Manorama Online coming from Kerala alone, which will form a major chunk of the visitors on the new shopping site as well. "Moreover, we did a study and found out that most of the middle class and affluent households, apart from some lower middle class homes here have internet connection and computer at homes. Therefore, we are sure that there is a market for this kind of product in Kerala."
He adds that though a large number of Manorama Online users check the site from their offices, household campaigns get a "very good response" from housewives and students.
To start with, the pre-shopping guide will have six categories of products available from different parts of the state for comparison of product benefits, features, dealer discounts and special offers; the number will gradually increase to accommodate more categories by Onam.
The site will also offer additional discounts to the registered users, apart from the offers available at various dealers and manufacturers. The Kerala-specific site will focus on both local residents and NRIs.
To promote the new product, the Manorama Group is relying heavily on its newspaper, Malayala Manorama.