The Malayala Manorama Group  intends to launch a pre-shopping guide website MShopping.com next month, reports Afaqs.   The group, which runs the popular daily newspaper, Malayala Manorama in Kerala, in addition to Entertainment and News Television networks (Mazhavil Manorama, Manorama News), Radio (Radio Mango), internet (manoramaonline.com)and programming (Manorama Vision), plans to launch the website, next month.

At the time of writing this post,  we found that MShopping.com is just a parked domain. Judging by the report, it appears that Malayala Manorama will offer a price comparison plus classified listings site, wherein it will offer free and premium listings to dealers in Kerala, and offer a price and feature comparison engine to users, in addition to discount deals and offers. It’s not clear if it will also offer exclusive offers bearing the additional cost, however, it plans to tie-up with dealers directly to get listings on its website. The report also claims that the website will initially focus on consumer durable goods and then diversify to automobile category and will be in English language even though it’s based in Kerala.

The group plans to monetize the offering through advertising and premium paid listings, though it will offer free listings as well. The website will initially offer products in six categories from different parts of the state.

Mathew C, Deputy General Manager, Marketing of Malayala Manorama claims that Manorama Online alone gets 22 lakh visits from Kerala and expects MShopping.com to get similar traffic. The site will be able to leverage the group’s print and online properties to advertise.

Competitors & Need for an Online Shopping Guide

Since the website will just list products from various dealers across the state, they could have easily tied up with existing listing players in the market instead of launching their own website. While Amazon followed a somewhat similar model with Junglee, its offering was more on the lines of a marketplace since it featured online orders, payments and delivery. Malayala Manorama’s offering would compete with the likes of Sulekha, JustDial, Getit, in addition to several price comparison and product review sites.

Just a few weeks back, Annkur P Agarwal and Tirthesh Ganatra launched PriceBaba, a Mumbai based price comparison engine for mobile phones, which claims to cover 110 dealer locations in the city. There are other price comparison engines such as MysmartPrice.com which offer the same feature for online stores.

It’s been said time and again that modern consumers spend a lot of time researching products online and buying offline, so it might help Malayala Manorama in getting traffic and monetizing via premium listings, without getting into the nuances of e-commerce which involves tackling aspects such as payments, inventory management and logistics. Plus the group can easily leverage its publications to spread the word, in a manner similar to other offerings from media conglomerates such as the Times Group (BCCL)*.

* Disclosure: Indiatimes is an advertiser with MediaNama

With inputs from Apurva Chaudhary