It’s a big, beautiful world and you can get anything you like in it.
“I want this for my home.”
That’s the expression most shoppers use when they sight the perfect hairstyle, curtain, lamp, wall art, for their homes in a magazine or online or in a shop. They then scour numerous websites, or offline stores to find the exact match which fits their budget. But, what if right there and then, they could use an image of that picture to find a possible match then and there? That’s what [this.] by Olive Theory (formerly BedBathMore) aims to make possible.
[this.] is a visual search app which lets you fast-forward your search for furniture and home décor products with a simple picture. It could be anything that catches your eye, anywhere – an art deco chair at a hotel lobby, the silk pop art cushions at a friend’s place, those applique door curtains in that lifestyle magazine, or that quirky barstool off Pinterest.
In three simple steps, it makes the process of visual discovery a piece of cake. All one has to do is download the app, click a picture of the desired object after launching the app or upload one from your phone’s gallery. The app will then find the product or the nearest possible thing from over 400,000 products in the catalogue.
And, just in case, it’s not able to find a match, a user can leave a message with the offline team to get it custom-made or for a more refined, offline search.
Inspiration, Visualisation, And Gratification
Talking to Inc42, Amit Dalmia, founder and CEO of Olive Theory, spoke about the inspiration behind launching [this.]
Amit reveals, “When you are doing up your home, there are three essential areas to deal with – inspiration, visualisation, and gratification. Now to solve a deeper problem on the gratification side, we started analysing user data. One side is, you put up interesting products online and provide the convenience of having delivered them at home. But it is only one part of the problem. There was no real innovation or disruption happening on the gratification side.”
So, while user trends indicated that most of the search and shopping occured on mobile phones, home and home décor is a tough category to figure out on the same. After all, the challenge was how do you put words to something which is very pictorial? And most inspirations for home and home products are pictorial. You can use only so many words to describe a chair or a lamp.
That’s when the team brainstormed the idea of an app to solve the problem of leveraging pictorial inspiration. And this was made possible by a very intelligent algorithm around image recognition. It also leverages on intelligent neural networks, and works on colour, pattern, edge and a host of other variables to come up with solutions.
Says Amit, “A lot of credible players have solved the problem of cataloguing and easy delivery to your homes. I think there is no innovation required on that front. What we enable is a choice, a match, an ease of search and comparison.”
However in case a person is unable to find the right match online, the app gives him an option to “find this for me” which means he can connect with the offline team to get it custom made or help in an offline search. In that case, he will be asked to share his contact details to connect with the team and take the search forward.
15 Days, 15K Downloads
[this.] was soft launched 15 days ago and is still in the pre marketing stage. The app has already registered 15K downloads. Amit believes that for it to reach a couple of hundred thousand downloads to a million should not be a very big challenge over the next five-six months.
Also, he aims to hit a sweet spot in monetisation with the app – which will happen through commissions from affiliation with sites such as Amazon, Flipkart, Pepperfry. It will also happen via revenues for custom-made pieces, and lastly through the marketplace model. There is also a plan to get sites selling even second hand furniture on the app.
More so, the app will help in boosting traction to the Olive Theory site which sees an average of 300K visitors on the platform on a monthly basis and has an average order size of $62 (INR 4K). As per Amit, the overall home furnishing, furniture, and décor market in India is a $35.8 Bn (INR 2,30,000 Cr) market and [this.] presents an opportunity to Olive Theory to grab an even bigger share.
The reason being the need to get it right in the home decor and interior space is very high. Says Amit, “People take a long time to take decisions because ticket sizes are relatively higher but they want to get it right.”
He remembers how when they were figuring out what goes on the app, they realised they had a great, in-house image recognition technology they had been working on. They also leveraged on mobile uptake and the fact that cameras are only being used for making memories, instead of as a tool for marketing. And then someone walked into their office saying, “I love this chair. I want this chair.”
“That’s when we realised it’s a great name for our app. ‘This,’” admits Amit with a chuckle.
This incident and the reasoning that followed it is where his belief stems from – that everyone who is doing up their home will end up having this app on their phone. Because ‘this’ signifies one very important fact: the need to get it right in the home decor and interior space is paramount.
It is exactly this need that [this.] is banking upon to hit the big time.
Try the app here.