Indix, a big data startup building an index for over 1 billion consumer products in the world, is raising $8.5 million in Series A-1 funding from Avalon Ventures and Nexus Venture partners to achieve that goal.
Indix is among a growing breed of startups that are helping consumer brands tackle the challenges of real-time commerce. On one hand, online retailers such as Amazon are pushing the limits with ideas such as “anticipatory” shipping, which aims to reduce the delivery time by anticipating what a buyer is looking to buy before it’s actually ordered. On the other hand, the ongoing social commerce frenzy is forcing the lines between physical and virtual worlds to blur, as we have seen with what old-world retailers such as Nordstrom are doing.
“As commerce becomes pervasive, every interaction in the physical world or on the web becomes an opportunity to inform, educate, and sell products and to do that well you need a product database with breadth, depth, and quality,” Sanjay Parthasarathy, founder of Indix said in a statement.
Parthasarathy, a Microsoft veteran who worked at the company for nearly two decades before retiring as a corporate vice president, founded Indix in 2012. He started with angel funding from several investors including Kosmix co-founder Venky Harinarayan, S Somasegar (a corporate VP at Microsoft) and Anand Rajaraman who heads @WalmartLabs.
The latest round of funding will take total capital raised by Indix to $14.4 million. To date, Indix has captured around 250 million product URLs, over 50,000 brands and nearly 10,000 product attributes as part of its database.
With today’s funding announcement, Indix is also launching a set of “product aware” apps, much like many consumer utility apps today that are location and people aware.
“Indix connects apps with products in the same way that Facebook connects apps with people, and Google Maps connects apps with locations,” added Sanjay.
As I wrote earlier this year, on top of its product database, Indix offers customized app and API for retailers to tap into the platform and gain real-time insights based on their preferences. The Indix app is no way meant to replace a customer’s existing enterprise applications that offer analytics, but it presents another version (which is much bigger and deeper in scale) of the marketplace.
The challenge for marketeers is not lack of data or insights about what their customers are looking for, but to convert that into more actionable, smart data, as this Forrester blog noted.
Some of the world’s biggest consumer brands such as Nike, and even Microsoft are today facing this challenge of understanding what their existing and potential customers are looking for in real-time. This trend is also being shaped by the rise of apps such as ASAP54, which helps shoppers hunt down their coveted clothing using just an image. The fashion startup uses image recognition technology to sift through thousands of products available on the web to hunt down the item you really wanted, but dent know where to find it.
This is forcing retailers to build solutions that help them tap into real-time analytics about competition, prices, promotions, news and everything social. An Indix customer, a drugstore chain, used the startup to identify product lines where it was under-priced compared with rivals, adjusted pricing and improved profits.
Another customer is using Indix’s APIs to purchase distressed inventory from retailers and brands, gather real-time market intelligence about products and pricing, and sell them off accordingly.
“They (the customer mentioned above) gather price, product, and market intelligence on the desired inventory of products using the Indix APIs and integrate it in their business systems and applications,” said Shalendra Chhabra, director marketing of Indix.
In some ways, what Indix is attempting to achieve has direct rivalry with Amazon, Google and possibly even WalMart. But Parthasarathy had told me earlier that Indix is only meant for brands and retailers, and has not been opened for consumers to buy products directly online. The idea is to build an infinite product catalog in the cloud and aggregate everything available on the web.
“Given that we provide a web-wide view of commerce, that can be useful to everyone including Amazon and Walmart. Also everyone can benefit from pervasive commerce and the ability to be ‘product aware’, because that is where commerce is going,” said Sanjay.