Singapore startup PlusMargin helps e-commerce sites sell more

By gauging a shopper’s purchase intent using predictive analytics, PlusMargin pushes targeted notifications to increase conversions and sales revenue

The PlusMargin team: Co-founder Viren Shetty second from right

For most e-commerce sites, the struggle to convert traffic into sales is real. That’s where Singapore B2B startup PlusMargin comes in.

According to Co-founder Viren Shetty, PlusMargin is a ‘predictive marketing platform that helps e-commerce clients increase conversions on their site. Typical conversation rates are at about one per cent, despite the amount of cash thrown at pushing traffic.

“If you think about why this disparity exists, it’s because in the offline setting (when the customer enters a retail store), a sales person knows where you are in the buying cycle. Are you someone they can up sell to? Are you likely to haggle? But this stuff doesn’t happen online. So we are trying to bring the ability to understand people’s behavior,” he said.

Also Read: How data science is revolutionising e-commerce

How it works is PlusMargin simply plugs one line of code into their client’s site and they’ll be able to glean data such as where customers are clicking and how much time they spend on each page. After the data is pushed through their algorithms, clients using PlusMargin will be able to determine ‘how likely’ customers are going to buy and they can craft notifications accordingly.

Notifications come in the form of offers, which incentivise the customer to buy. Shetty gives the example of offering a customer free shipping if they purchase US$50 worth of product.

Unlike their competition, which according to Shetty is primarily rule-based, PlusMargin is operates on a more automated basis. “You can think of it as A/B testing versus automated personalisation. We are more into the predictive and data science part instead of trying to do A/B testing,” he said.

Also Read: Redmart CPO Jon Sugihara wants to rethink e-commerce

“There are very few startups that are doing the predictive part — primarily because there is a very high barrier to entry. It requires a certain level of skill set, which is why you see way less competition in our domain,” and he notes that most of their competition is predominantly based in the US or Europe.

Based on their website (see below screenshot), 500 Startups is apparently an investor in PlusMargin. When asked, Shetty said that other investors have participated in their seed round and that more details are coming in.

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Alongside Co-founder Melverick Ng, who was a software consultant at SAP prior to joining PlusMargin, Shetty is also flanked by two talented developers. Singapore-based back-end developer Jeffry Lum is a child prodigy who started programming at age five and KL-based front-end developer Wafiq Rodzuan used to work in the same post at both Groupon and KFit.

As for the 22-year-old Shetty, he was in the midst of studying Applied Mathematics at Nanyang Technological University, before he dropped out to work on his startup. PlusMargin isn’t his first time at the startup rodeo as Shetty has also previously started a crowdsourcing platform for brands before realising the idea had no product market fit.

This time around, Shetty is a tad more experienced at building a product that people want. Although they’re fresh graduates from Singapore media accelerator SPH Plug & Play, PlusMargin is already beta testing their software with 10 e-commerce clients.

“Traditionally, this technology has only been used on big tech sites like Amazon, but we are giving it to the 99.9 per cent of online retailers that don’t normally have access to this kind of technology.”

On the human resources side, Shetty tells us his plans to set up their entire technical team in Malaysia and attests to the quality of tech talent available being higher than that of Singapore.

“We found that the talent pool for developers is way bigger. We were considering setting up our technical team in India, as I am originally from there, but it’s a four-hour flight versus taking a bus to KL,” he said. “Communication is very important to us. We want to build team culture so interaction with the founders needs to be strong.”

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