(by Anupam Saxena and Nikhil Pahwa)

Online and telephone business listings company Just Dial, is gearing up to launch an online and phone based price quote service called Quick Quotes. Users will be able to call JustDial and request prices for products (for example, handsets) and the location they would like to buy it from, or search a product catalog on the web. Vendor information would be sent to them via SMS and/or email. The QuickQuotes will be launched at http://quickquotes.in, which is currently behind password, but there is a info page hidden here.

According to our sources, product data collection is in progress, and it will initially be launched in Mumbai. For JustDial, this is an extension of their lead generation activities, wherein users call them for business directory information. By adding products to their mix,they increase the granularity of their services for both customers and vendors. The operational difference here is that the JustDial call center will call the vendor for updated quotes (in case there is a revision), and so there might be a 4-5 minute lag.

While not much information is available about the service, except that it’s going to be launched soon and that it would be offered free to end-users, Just Dial could probably offer this service to merchants at a premium; it’s unlikely that they will charge commission on purchases that materialise via Quick Quotes, because tracking becomes difficult. For merchants it would obviously mean more business leads. It would also have to ensure that merchants don’t spam users. We’ve observed that if one calls JustDial for a specific dealer/vendor contact, we’re contacted by other dealers who offer similar/same products.

QuickTake

No one brings the kind of scale to this business that JustDial does, so it could well blow competition out of the water, especially because it is doing both Internet and Mobile. Keeping the price database updated is going to be difficult. The other thing to keep in mind is that JustDial is pulling its weight in the lead generation business it owns. Just Dial would benefit from its relationship with existing merchants, and it does have a large number of listings. So it would be interesting to see how Just Dial leverages them for its offering.

Developments at JustDial: Recently, the company re-filed (.pdf) its draft red herring prospectus (DRHP) for an initial public offer (IPO) with the Security Exchange and Board of India (SEBI), essentially giving its investors a chance to exit. In June 2012, JustDial raised Rs 327 crore from its existing private equity investors, Sequoia Capital and SAP Ventures. Sequoia Capital led the funding round with a Rs 305 crore investment. JustDial also launched JustDial Data, a website that allows businesses to buy leads.

Competition: While there a number of price comparison websites including MySmartPrice, and CompareIndia, most only offer price comparison for online retailers, as it can be automated by the use XML feeds, and doesn’t require an on-ground team. There’s also, PriceBaba, a price comparison engine which allows users to search for product prices across dealers in their vicinity. However, it only offers price quotes for dealers in Mumbai and Thane. The site claims to have personally visited and verified the dealers which are listed, and updates prices every week. at the time of its launch, it covered 110 locations.