aisle 3: Aggregating all of the World’s Products in One Central Location – The Antidote to Endless Tabs? (Thomas Vosper, CEO & Co-Founder)
Keeping up to date with the most recent trends is becoming increasingly important in an industry as fast-evolving as ecommerce. Graham Broughton, co-founder and Managing Director of Storesome (a turnkey marketplace solution and part of the We Are Pentagon Group) interviews innovative leaders in ecommerce on a weekly basis in order to highlight the latest developments in ecommerce – from the likes of payments and logistics to the newest technologies.
In the third episode of the new season focused on search and customer experience, Graham was joined by Thomas Vosper, CEO and co-founder of aisle 3 – an innovative new platform that allows shoppers to compare the best prices from their favourite retailers, create their very own personalised shopping lists, and share the best deals and latest styles with their friends. In this episode, Graham took the opportunity to quiz Thomas on all things aisle 3: what does aisle 3 mean? Which fundamental issues does aisle 3 solve for shoppers? As a comparison website, is it just about price? In this exclusive podcast, Thomas provided his insights on all of these topics and more.
This is a summary of a live podcast episode on June 21, 2021. You can listen to the full 23-minute episode here: https://bit.ly/3xGZKKx.
The meaning of aisle 3
Thomas describes aisle 3 as effectively “aiming to aggregate all of the world’s products and solve the three things which we think are really broken in online shopping right now.” According to the CEO and co-founder, there are three fundamental issues with online shopping that need to be fixed and amazingly, haven’t been so far.
The first of these is basic product comparison and discovery. We are all familiar with common price comparison websites, allowing you to easily book something as complicated as car or life insurance, and compare prices against a range of service providers. However, if you were to search for something as simple as a particular set of wireless headphones or a pair of trainers for example, you may end up opening half a dozen tabs across your browser, across different retailers, in an attempt to find the right deal for you – which would include finding the right size, colour and price. Thomas and aisle 3 are very passionate about fixing this problem, mentioning “It staggers me that…the basic needs of a shopper just cannot be served.”
The second issue that aisle 3 tackles is around reviews. Although there are plenty of reviews around the internet for retailers, often people end up on the likes of Amazon where Thomas suggests the reviews are full of “corporate espionage”, or where a lot of them are what is known as “incentivised reviews”. Therefore, the second problem that aisle 3 aims to solve for shoppers is accessing reviews that will actually help you make a purchase decision.
Finally, the third difficulty which aisle 3 wants to solve is “engagement with shoppers and with brands and retailers”. Currently, some big tech businesses in particular have a bit of a “choke hold” on retailers in terms of stealing their brand equity and taking ownership of their customers. According to Thomas, aisle 3 is very dedicated to solving this too.
How does aisle 3 address these problems?
To recap, so far we have heard Thomas identify the three fundamental issues with online shopping that aisle 3 is designed to address – but what tools, techniques and technology does aisle 3 utilise to go about reaching a solution?
To begin with, aisle 3 makes product comparison and discovery far easier for shoppers by aggregating sets of products from retailers so that customers can land on a product listing on their site and see everyone who sells that product. In addition, you are able to view the delivery options, the best deals and whether or not it’s in stock – which allows you to have all of your options available to you in one tab. You can find an example of what this would look like if you were browsing trainers below:
As you can see, the very simple design allows you to browse and filter across merchants, gender, size and colour – all in one tab. This also helps to tackle the second problem around reviews. As Thomas points out: “We think that aggregating products and giving shoppers a really good overview of all of their options is also a really good foundation to start sharing that information with their friends, family, confidants and experts within their network, that can help them make a purchase.” Ultimately, opinions and advice from a friend are worth a lot more than reviews which could potentially be fake, incentivized or unreliable.
Lastly, Thomas believes that it is much fairer to create an aggregated product view that everyone can share socially with their friends – ensuring they are able to get whatever the best deal is for them in a way that also enables working in a collaborative way with retailers and brands (as opposed to large tech businesses taking their brand equity and customers).
It would be a lot more difficult to spend hours opening up several different tabs across multiple different retailers, than attempting to send these links to your friends for their opinions. aisle 3 spares shoppers from this hassle – providing one trusted source where you can send a single link to your friends to ask for their point of view.
Evolving Beyond Price Comparison
As has already been alluded to, aisle 3 has a lot more to offer than just being a price comparison site; it’s never all about price. If it were all about price, then no one would be shopping on Amazon. Thomas points out that “Our own independent research over the last year has shown that shoppers could save 33% on their basket just by increasing their purview of retailers, so that is something that is at the core of aisle 3”.
Supporting independent retailers to have direct access to shoppers who are being offered a better deal is really important. aisle 3 are very passionate that it’s not just about price, the focus is on whatever is the ‘right deal’ for the shopper. Although this could be price, it could also be the ability to see the product, try it on, utilise options such as next day delivery or a click and collect service, or indeed even particular reviews. aisle 3 offers all of this to shoppers in the convenience of a single tab, whilst also still working in a collaborative way with retailers and brands.
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