Joint Interview with Ranga Jagannath, Senior Director-Growth, Agora and Yogesh Bhalerao, CEO, ShopOut

Could you give an overview of ShopOut and your growth so far?

ShopOut is a live engagement platform for brands to connect directly with customers using video technology. ShopOut creates two-way communication between brands and customers through product information and showcases. Customers engage and respond by asking queries and sharing feedback and appreciation. ShopOut simplifies the interaction through easy steps to create, engage, and delight customers leading to higher engagement, brand connection, loyalty, and accelerated conversion.

We launched ShopOut as a platform in April 2022. Our primary focus was on home category products. We currently host 150+ brands on the ShopOut platform. We are in the process of launching ShopOut Studio in September ’22. ShopOut Studio is a new hosted service explicitly tailored to the beauty products segment and the younger generation of customers seeking more transparent, honest brands that help them express their identity better.

What would you say is the USP of your service?

The USP of our service is the live and transparent engagement between brand and customer, sans any marketing, gimmicks, or confusing jargon. Our focus is on delivering honest and authentic product information. We believe in creating a direct connection forging higher engagement, better conversion, and loyalty.

How important is video in the shopping experience?

Video technology is core to the ShopOut delivery platform and forms the basis of transparent, authentic, and genuine engagement between brands and customers. The inability to physically inspect an item before making a purchase is the biggest issue that most customers run into when purchasing online. They can only rely on their hope and expectation of superior and consistent treatment by brands. Online shoppers form an impression of the products based on the product images and videos they see.

What were the pain points you identified where Agora helped you?

Agora helped us with a Real-Time Engagement platform that fit our requirements in terms of features and enhanced the experience through simple configuration. Agora has a solid team to help us with any challenges in platform setup. In Agora, we found a platform that echoes our values of authenticity and transparency in them. ShopOut was able to roll out the core features in a matter of 2-3 weeks to its beta customers. And this has helped us build a more robust and scalable platform today.

What are your future growth plans in India?

Our plans are focussed on onboarding and proving our value to customers of home and beauty products in the Mumbai region. In the next 12 months, we intend to take the learnings and love received from our patrons to other critical geographies in India and expand to different categories that we identify for future expansion.

Agora-Director-Ranganath-JagannathHow did Agora customize shopping experiences for ShopOut?

Live commerce enhances e-commerce with live interactive streaming videos or events, bridges the gap, and combines the personal help of in-store shopping experiences with online convenience. Interactive options dramatically increase with live commerce. Through embedded clickable links, customers can learn more about the product and purchase directly while the celebrity or influencer is “live” on the show.

Agora is a real-time engagement platform-as-a-service (RTE PaaS) with interactive voice, video, and messaging SDKs embedded into mobile, web, and desktop applications. Live shopping businesses like ShopOut rely heavily on the quality of the live video, audio, and text-based chat for shoppers. Agora helped ShopOut by setting up a customized platform that enabled its users to have delightful shopping experiences. Video technology undeniably is the core for ShopOut. Agora adds the human element that is usually missing in the impersonal and clinical world of online shopping. ShopOut has used Agora to customize shopping experiences on the platform with a user-friendly, highly scalable, low latent, quick, and easily implemented platform.

What are the next steps in the Agora and ShopOut partnership?

ShopOut is looking at expanding in India rapidly, and Agora wants to be a key enabler for them. Virtual co-shopping with friends and family seems to be the next frontier. And we are exploring such and more features in addition to standard live streaming.

What are some of the upcoming trends you see in the retail/e-commerce industry?

A couple of upcoming trends that we see in the retail sector are:

  1. Analyzing real-time human engagement to decode human emotions and engagement patterns. Understanding and catering to these human emotions in real-time will increase the personalization of brands, products, and services.
  2. A digital experiential revolution is happening on the backbone of real-time engagement platforms, helping businesses enhance customer experience using technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), and even the metaverse. AR changes the shopping experience because the customer can get a better feel for the item without seeing it in person.

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