Shobble is a young new service that aggregates e-commerce stores (sound familiar?), which lets the user rate and reviews the different stores. It’s based in Helsinki and only in Beta. And it’s build by Jori Lallo – a single student – on his spare time.
Further, Shobble collects user reviews and ratings on e-commerce stores as well as other info that might affect a buying decisions, like delivery costs, available payment methods, return policies and so on. Thus, the service will aim to bring all the conversation from the forums and the grape wine to a one single easily found location. Simple, yet potentially quite powerful concept if the masses will start using it as e-commerce becomes more popular in the Nordics.
The content is 100% crowdsourced meaning that anyone can add new stores, edit the information on the stores and rate them. The logic goes that once the service gains popularity, the stores will be incentiviced to keep their own information up to date. In my personal experience that is unfortunately easier said than done.
Initially Shobble focues on 20 to 40 year-old women – a popular and very lucrative segment in online shopping. The actual target market for the service is Europe, thus any shop that delivers to Europe can be added. Europe is also where the landcape is most underdeveloped and fragmented for example compared to the US.
Lallo also tells me that localization is in the cards quite soon, starting with Finland. He also adds that there aren’t too many similar serviced which focus on reviewing e-commerce stores. In fact, there’s none. Thus the biggest competitors are really blogs and forums where the reviewing and recommendation takes place at the moment.
Lallo goes futher explaining that Shobble is not meant to replace Fruugo, but to complement it by offering what Fruugo doesn’t. For one, Fruugo can be found at Shobble, but Shobble can’t from Fruugo. Shobble focuses on the shop themselves whereas Fruugo operates at the product level. At Shobble you can review the store on its Communication, Delivery (available choices, speed, packaging, returns) and Total Value (price range, extra costs, etc).
Further, Shobble is aiming to focus on what Fruugo initially planned to, but didn’t: Strong social community features that enable sharing and discussion. Some examples from the features Shobble plans to integrate could be seen in services like Corkd or the Finnish born Thinglink. The whole point of these features is to get Shobble users to come back for more and spend time on the site instead of just shop and go. Of course the integration with the stores is nowhere near where its with Fruugo and thus also the affiliate cut is a lot smaller.
The Business model will be build around existing affiliate programs and later on premium services which will be offered to the stores themselves (Think Eat.fi’s model).
I think its great to see new services emerge in the e-commerce space. Fruugo might have given a bad name for the space and scared some entrepreneurs away, but if anything, Fruugo’s massive – even if still mostly unrealized – potential should highlight how much value can be created in the space. And the e-commerce business model could not be more simple: You sell products and receive a payment for those sold. Something that gets lost in the brouhaha of complex business models around advertising, premium accounts and virtual currency.