Construction of any kind is a complex process. There are a number of products or materials available in the market, for the same application. Moreover, there are multiple brands in each product or material. There are hundreds of product/material-brand combinations available in the market. The choice is indeed mind-boggling. On top of this, there are variants available in each product as well. For example, water closets are available in various types such as one-piece, close-coupled, wall hung, single floor-standing and concealed cistern. This complexity makes it difficult for buyers to make an informed choice quickly. Having made a choice, the task doesn’t end. Suppliers need to be found, installation needs to be coordinated and service requested, if needed.
Need for a Construction Catalog
In this context, there is space for a tool that can simplify the process of home construction or improvement. Seeing this gap, two Hyderabad based entrepreneurs have launched a construction catalog called Wishkarma (https://www.wishkarma.com/). The online tool provides information that home builders or other buyers to research the building material choices available to them as well as locate suppliers. Apart from this, the tool aims to guide users by providing product reviews, how-to and other researched content. Users can also locate service providers like architects, interior decorators and contractors.
Difference from an e-Commerce Site or a Listings Site
It can be argued that eventually e-commerce platforms would be able to do everything that a construction catalog does plus selling the product, delivering it and executing contracts. It seems natural that a construction catalog would eventually have to become an e-commerce site. However, there are many challenges. For example, users may not trust an e-commerce site that sells as much as a construction catalog which has no perceived agenda in preferring one product/material/brand over the other. Further, many construction material brands allow their products to be sold via authorized channel partners alone. This is a barrier for e-commerce firms, who have to get authorized channel partners on board for a plethora of brands or become one themselves. It is perhaps not possible in such a vast space to be a true one-stop shop.
The key challenge for a construction catalog is probably on monetization of the platform. In order to be sustainable, the tool needs to earn revenues. For this to happen, the tool would eventually have to find a way to get users to pay for its services or earn revenues by getting suppliers to come on board the platform.
Over the coming few years, it will be interesting to see which model is successful and why it turned out that way!