Abid Hussain Barlaskar

Startup by former Amazon and WPP hands perfects ecommerce catalogues

Former Amazon marketer Nikita Bhargav and ex-WPP hand Anand Siva’s startup NittyGritti enables brands to get the most out of their ecomm product pages.

After all the sexy tech, designs, advertising, insights, partnerships and discounts, the moment of truth on an e-commerce website unfolds on the product page. This web page, a combination of text and images, acts as a virtual salesperson which informs customers and influences purchase decisions.

To break it down further, the number of products sold on e-commerce giant Amazon alone runs in hundreds of millions. Since each product has a page, the quantity of content on these pages is unfathomable. To make the best of every possible opportunity, each page needs to carry the right mix, custom fit to deliver varying details.

Two industry veterans Anand Siva and Nikita Bhargav see an opportunity here and are busy building NittyGritti, a tech solution to the mammoth of a content problem. And as the name suggests, it (NittyGritti) has to solve it at a granular level. NittyGritti’s newly-built tech tool Texmatix audits e-commerce catalogue content with pace and at scale.

Siva spent 20 years in advertising before moving to the world of data and analytics in 2009. His last advertising job was as the head of Saatchi & Saatchi Mumbai. After that, he moved to research and business analytics firms like Hansa Cequity, Gain Theory and Kantar.

On the other hand, Bhargav was among Amazon’s earliest employees in India. Apart from the last decade that she spent in the booming e-commerce industry in the country, the previous half of her career was with advertising agencies. She joined the e-commerce scene in 2011, when top e-commerce players like Flipkart and Myntra were just revving up.

While Bhargav had a deep understanding of the e-commerce related problems of brands, Siva’s forte was to provide data/analytics-based solutions to business problems.

Bhargav mentions that the content on a page has to be high on conversion and discoverability, while also providing a great brand experience. “It has to address everything that the customer is looking for, just like a great salesperson.”

Nikita Bhargav
Nikita Bhargav

The problem stood out while she was working at Amazon. “The customers said that they liked shopping on Amazon because of the great collection and delivery, but the product page let them down. We realised that the questions of customers about the products were not being addressed. The five images and the bullet points are supposed to capture the touch and feel of a product,” Bhargav says.

While both Siva and Bhargav were answering the ‘What’s next?’ question after quitting their jobs, they were on to ‘content’ as a common thread. As conversations among friends and acquaintances progressed, a mutual friend put them in touch and the idea took off.

While the ‘gap’ stared at them, both realised that to impress a brand, they would need a quantifiable explanation. “To tell brand managers that their product page content isn’t right, I couldn’t go with a subjective idea. That’s something we have been doing as agencies. We had to go with something tangible and quantifiable, like a score, which explains why their content isn’t working.”

Anand Siva
Anand Siva

“That’s how you convert quality to quantity and then let quantity support quality,” Siva says.

From her experience at Amazon, Bhargav knew that e-commerce demanded pace and scale in execution of initiatives. She elaborates that once onboarded as sellers, brands would have their e-commerce teams put up the content of the pages, or outsource it to a digital or cataloging agency.

“But most of them do it in the traditional way, guided by the style guide, etc., with little value addition. Amazon only tells you the basics, but it doesn’t tell you how to make it better. Brands would have a hard time finding the right person to address the e-commerce content need,” Bhargav elaborates.

The pace and scale could only be driven by tech. In his previous stints as an ORM and business solutions expert, Siva has worked with data/analytics tools that aided pricing decisions, market mix, etc., for organisations like Hindustan Unilever. That way, he resorted to tech companies he had worked with in the past to help him build Texmatix. It is a platform which put page content through more than 150 quality parameters and eventually came up with a score.

Startup by former Amazon and WPP hands perfects ecommerce catalogues

“Brands know the problem, but they don’t know how to do it at scale and with pace. We had the understanding of the volume and also realised that the changes had to be done at a granular level. If a brand has 100 products, which need five bullet points each, 500 bullet points have to be changed. A typical agency model would need to go through all the bullets across many days and man hours.”

"Brands know the problem, but they don’t know how to do it at scale and with pace."
Anand Siva

Once the platform could put a score to the quality and tell if a brand did the right thing, the next step was to make it capable of making corrections and retaining what is right.

However, it is generally agreed that e-commerce is heavily driven by the promotion of sales and discounts, coupled with the promise of variety and timely deliveries. So, between content experience and discounts, on which side will the balance tilt?

"The pace of purchase may be faster with the discount, but the customers will still need to learn about it."
Nikita Bhargav

Bhargav responds by saying that discount, or no discount, it should not matter to the content experience. “Even if it is a discounted product, the consumers still want to know and learn about it. The pace of purchase may be faster with the discount, but the customers will still need to learn about it.”

Adding his views, Siva says that a discount can make the purchase journey quicker, but the content will drive conversation. “The content enables discovery. I’ve spent years talking about customers becoming brand ambassadors. The discounts and sales are alright, but the brand needs to continuously drive the message, why is it a good choice.”

On being asked about the experience of quitting a top e-commerce company and becoming an entrepreneur in an uncertain time, Bhargav says, “It’s a different high. The number of hours we put in our previous jobs were also long, but this does not tell on yourself. It doesn’t feel like work. It is very rewarding. I wish I’d done this years ago.”

While auditing Amazon pages is a starting point, NittyGritti plans to expand to many other areas and platforms. Siva says that a major demand from brands has been to audit their own D2C e-commerce website.

Siva hopes that years down the line, NittyGritti will emerge as an industry standard for benchmarking online catalogue and e-commerce content.

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