Poland is a 38M people country – which is quite important for European standards – and as such sees a lot of local start-ups developing innovative ideas and products. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for me to review Polish sites as I don’t know a single word in Polish; which is a shame considering there are some established price comparison websites (like Nokaut, Ceneo or Skapiec) and also newcomers like Peryskop. But thanks to Jakub Polec, Peryskop CEO, I’m ready to do my first review of a Polish site (and also the first interview on this blog :) ).
[Nicolas] Hi Jakub, could you tell me why have you built Periskop and what your goal is?
[Jakub] We began with typical customer problem – wanted to find good photo-camera for holidays. So looked for e-shop and each producer said that his products are the best, with which we didn’t agree. So we looked at CSEs and found that they do not provide characteristics of products but focus only on prices. Then we found some product reviews, but reading through them was difficult, because many of them are biased by writer and were to long to get precise information for our needs.
So we set up a company with 3 mathematicians and spend 9 months trying to figure out what algorithms could analyze content of product reviews to give people answer to such problems. Than we developed feature-based-analysis algorithm with our semantic ontology for e-commerce. In some time ago we have been backed by VC fund which believes that new CSEs will need to be more at product reviews and more in helping customers to make right decisions. And we are here.
[Nicolas] That sounds promising. What is the difference of approach compared to other CSEs for the consumers?
[Jakub] We started with a vision that any future CSE would be a place where customers decide which product to buy. So not only price will be important but also other parameters of products and users’ opinions. For example if we go to a shop we usually look for good product not the cheapest one. And the same story is on-line, but it’s much more difficult to present benefits of products in a concise way, so that customers can compare products easily. Nobody is reading 10-15 reviews per product (if there are so many) and then check them product by product. So we decided to do semantic analysis of content of products’ reviews to simplify this procedure. With our algorithms which analyze user reviews we give customers an easy way to compare products or to choose which one is better than others.
Based on the above we developed semantic natural language query for e-commerce. It was tough, but now one can search “good mobile phone” or “mobile phone with huge battery and cheap” or “windows mobile phone with good internet connection” etc. The same is ready for many other categories.
[Nicolas] Could you tell me more about your technology breakthroughs / innovation?
[Jakub] We aggregate product reviews for analysis purposes from almost 1700 sites. We are searching towards English and Polish reviews, and then apply our semantic analysis model based on feature based analysis of specific products’ features. In short it means that we could analyze what is written in product reviews and align these to specific products’ features. So in simple words, if somebody says about a photo-camera that is good, we get it. If someone else adds that it’s superb, we get it, and combine this information with previous ones. So for some statistic we know what people think about some characteristics of product e.g. battery for iPhone is weak instead of user interface which people said that it’s great. And so on, for up to 30 different features per category.
Based on these features of products we offer semantic natural language query for e-commerce, which simplifies product search. According to Jupiter Research from 2009 85% of users told that product search need to be redone, as more than 53% of customers prefer to search than browse for product discovery. So it’s huge market, and we have almost 2 years experience exactly in this direction.
We are working on similar model of visualization as Wize.com which was acquired by Nextag last month. So it would be nicer for users to get e.g. “diswasher for noice level” than do it with faceted way where user has to set decibels, etc.
[Nicolas] Thanks Jakub for those explanations, and thank you for your time.
Here is my take on the front-end experience of the Peryskop site (below are screenshots translated in English):
Congrats to the Peryskop team: it shows there is still room for innovation in the CSE world, and it’s a product I will follow carefully in the near future.