A smarter, quicker way to find products online

Vishrut Jhawar talks about his app Scan It, a Hot 100:Race to Grace 2017 winner, that uses image recognition software to help shoppers quickly locate a product. By Satyaki Sarkar

Ever found yourself admiring something (bag, shoes, clothes, hat, tie, watch) a colleague, co-passenger on a flight, or stranger on a train was sporting, and wondered where you could get one like it? That’s the problem Vishrut Jhawar aims to solve with Scan It, which he claims is India’s very first full stack image recognition mobile app.

The idea
Having just completed his Bachelors in Finance from Boston University, US, Vishrut was contemplating the way ahead when the idea struck in 2015. “Thanks to its convenience and ease of transactions, e-commerce was one of the biggest industries in India,” says Vishrut. “Yet I discovered there was no precise, efficient way of locating a specific product online without resorting to painstaking Google searches with vaguely relevant keywords. So I came up with the idea for the Scan It app. Using it you simply take a photo of the item you want to search for and the app uses its mobile visual search technology to trawl through its databases to find out what it is. It then provides you with links to sites where you can buy it, along with competitive pricing options.”

“We are giving users an information-based platform using which he/she can order any product from anywhere,” says Vishrut. “While doing my research, I found that there were similar apps available in the US and Europe. However, India was yet to have a consolidated app that lived up to the required standards. There are other alternative solutions, such as asking your friends/acquaintances, writing a social media post asking for help, etc. But these are time consuming and don’t always work.”

How it works
“The app is designed to be user friendly and simple so that anyone from any age group can use it,” says Vishrut. “Using the app, users take a photo of the product they want. The app then uses an algorithm to match the users photo with its huge database of indexed images, using parameters like product shape, colour, electronic recognition, etc. Within 20 seconds the app will tell you what the item is, where it can be bought (online and offline), its cost, the best offers available, etc.

“Scan It connects customers to retailers, thereby increasing the retailers’ reach. It also capitalises on the demand by connecting stores and retailers to customers exactly during the craving point, which is the peak point of interest for a customer. This helps create a huge amount of brand recall, and potentially improves the marketability of the brand. Seeing the potential, 16 different e-commerce brands, including Flipkart and Amazon, have tied up with Scan It. Our search to sale conversion is five per cent, and we earn commission (six per cent on average) from the stores, brands, and various e-commerce portals we’ve tied up with.”

The way ahead
“The app has an ever-increasing active user base. So far we’ve had two lakh downloads and 50,000 monthly active users. Our organic growth has been tremendous, with word of mouth being the biggest marketing medium. We’ve also started promoting the app colleges, schools, and other community centres, which are the biggest target markets. Going ahead, we’re going to expand the app’s repertoire and provide more precise, elaborate information, including point of sale, quality information, user reviews, etc. We’ll also be starting the first round of fund raising soon to further increase growth and performance.” 

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