“The market narrative is always it’s a zero-sum game,” says Imran Khan, co-founder and CEO of Verishop, a new Amazon competitor launching soon. “You are coming in and it’s Verishop versus Amazon or Snap versus Facebook. Those are great stories, but ultimately I fundamentally believe that all of us are on the right side of the history in a sense. Not one company will take everything. It’s just impossible for one company to solve every problem.”
There’s a Lot of Opportunity to Innovate in Ecommerce
Ecommerce is now only 9 percent of the overall retail market. I believe that over the next decade 30-40 percent of all retail will be online. There are actually not that many consumer choices when you look for buying branded products, having a better experience, or having a better way to discover products. We think there’s a lot of opportunity to innovate. In markets like China, for example, where 25 percent of the market is ecommerce there are many more players in China compared to the US. So I think that’s a better way to bring joy in the consumer mind when they’re trying to buy things.
In my time at Snap I noticed that millennials like to do more research before they buy something. They also care about responsibility in terms of shopping. They care about economy and sustainability. If you as a consumer, for example, want to buy sustainable products where do you really go? So we have a lot of different ways of discovering products. On our platform, we’ll have around 200 different attributes that consumers can use to find products. I’m really excited to bring in a new way of shopping to consumers. The market is very large and I think it can accommodate a lot of players.
As Ecommerce Grows Not One Company Can Solve Everything
I really admire Amazon and I’m a shareholder of Amazon personally through my fund. However, I think as ecommerce goes from 10 percent to 40 percent, not one company can solve everything. Amazon is also a juggernaut. They do software, they do a lot of different things. Again, I really admire the company but there are a lot of parts of ecommerce that are not being addressed by existing players. I think we can bring that. For example, discovery, we know that because ecommerce is still very much intent based I think we can give consumers a lot of different ways to discover new products.
The key thing to keep in mind is the time spent on mobile device is only going to grow. The market narrative is always it’s a zero-sum game. You are coming in and it’s Verishop versus Amazon or Snap versus Facebook. Those are great stories, but ultimately I fundamentally believe that all of us are on the right side of the history in a sense. People are spending more and more time digitally and as people spend more time digitally there will be a lot more new businesses. Not one company will take everything. It’s just impossible for one company to solve every problem. Facebook does a great job with Instagram and Snap has done a great job with camera. I think one will be bigger and the other smaller, but only time will tell. But I think both can co-exist very well.
Verishop to Focus on Trust
We are going to launch in late June or early July. You will see our commitment in four areas. Number one is trust. Most of the ecommerce players are marketplaces. When you’re in a marketplace where anybody can go list something or anybody can post something the platform is prone to counterfeit and fraud. We saw that with eBay we saw that with Facebook with the Russians and we saw that with Talbot in China. What we’re doing is we’re acquiring all the product directly from the brands by guaranteeing that everything you’re buying is real.
Trust is going to become an important topic on the internet. Over the last 25 years, the internet was built on the premise of an open platform and we saw that when everything is open and there are no rules it brings chaos. We solve that at Verishop by sourcing all of the products that we are sourcing directly from the brands to ensure that they are real.
The second key thing (that distinguishes) the Verishop platform is discovering new products. Again, ecommerce is very much intent-based, so we are giving consumers more choices to discover products through a lot of different ways that you will see. Our third focus is we’re going to continue to make a big commitment on convenience. I know Amazon and other companies do this it but we’re going to continue to do so by offering free shipping, free return, all those kind of things. We’re excited and it’s just the beginning. It takes a long time to build a business and hopefully we’ll continue to bring new products and new innovation to the platform.