For this installment of our eCommerce Influencer Series, we are excited to welcome Sree Menon from marketplace Tophatter who has agreed to take time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions.
Tophatter is revolutionizing the eCommerce landscape with a discovery shopping app that’s truly one-of-a-kind. Shoppers compete in fleeting, 90-second auctions to win deals of up to 80% off jewellery, electronics, beauty and fashion.
Leveraging smart technology to serve shoppers a unique experience every visit, Tophatter delivers the world’s most efficient rapid marketplace and connects sellers to over 20 million shoppers across the globe.
Q: For anyone who doesn’t know you yet, who you are and how did you get started in the eCommerce industry?
My background was originally in sales; I started my eCommerce journey at Dell, leading the Commercial Online business for the Americas. At this time, I was not sure if I would stay with the industry —this was right before it really took off — but even then, in the early days of the massive growth of eCommerce and marketplaces, I knew this was where I needed to be.
Q: Looking back over the past three years, what do you think have been the biggest changes in eCommerce and how is Tophatter tackling them?
The biggest change in eCommerce has been the shift to mobile, and with it the consumer behavioural shift towards discovery shopping.
Right now, shoppers are focused on product and price discovery — consumers want to find new interesting things and they want to feel as if they unearthed a deal. It is important to build a shopping platform for this behaviour, which can be done gamifying the shopping experience and building in social aspects.
Q: What advantages does Tophatter, being a smaller marketplace, provide over one of the larger global marketplaces?
For sellers, larger marketplaces are crowded, and smaller and hungry businesses may never be able to compete or even be seen with such saturation.
Tophatter is a sea of opportunity for sellers, large and small. For larger sellers, we are able to give them a diversified portfolio which reduces their risk. Since our platform is a high velocity, hit-based business, we have extremely high sell-through rates. For smaller sellers, their items can be seen without huge marketing and ad spends, which is impossible on the huge marketplaces.
Q: There is a lot of talk currently in eCommerce about the growth of Amazon do you believe they are largely friend or foe to small businesses?
A lot of growth in the industry can be attributed to innovations that Amazon has led — from shopping experiences to supply chain their focus on buyer experience has helped create a benchmark.
However, there are also concern when any one company becomes too big, but the global online world is still very vast and there is room for opportunity. To compete against Amazon, there are still niches where other smaller businesses can play, rather than trying to take them head on.
Q. What emerging technology do you see as the biggest game changer in eCommerce?
Personalization with AI technologies has fundamentally changed eCommerce and will continue to impact it for years to come. At this point AI is table stakes for any platform; whether shopping for utility or discovery shopping, the more a retailer can tailor the experience to the shopper, the more success they will have.
The possibilities of personalization with AI are endless, so now is the time to invest heavily because as personalization becomes commonplace shoppers will begin to turn away from retailers who aren’t creating an individualized shopping experience for them.
Q. Where can people find out more about you and what you do?
Tophatter is a totally unique shopping experience, so we always encourage people to give us a try. With live auction format, all products start at $1 and bidding is free, so go discover something fun and bid. And reach out to me on LinkedIn to tell me how it went!
We want to thank Sree Menon very much for her fantastic insight into eCommerce and how Tophatter can help small businesses utilise an additional marketplace.
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