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aisle 3 is disrupting the e-commerce space by showing shoppers all of their buying options in one trusted location. The startup aggregates retailer offers and rich product information without any input from retailers by deploying machine learning and AI algorithms. This provides shoppers a complete view of all of their buying options for all products on a single screen. To achieve this the team has built a web crawler that discovers products, uses AI to transform and enrich product data alongside neutral networks to aggregate products without barcodes, product IDs or manufacturer numbers.
Within just 15 months since its inception, aisle 3 has 2,000 organic shoppers each day, and 20+ Digital Agencies have signed up as partners covering more than 100 advertisers and million products. It has also raised more than $600k in two funding rounds securing the support of some of the most credible retail investors out there. The startup recently announced the launch of a new division in India as it continues the rapid growth trajectory. Aisl3 India Pvt Limited has launched with a team of 12 and has plans to triple the size of the team in the next year (2022).
On this note, StartupTalky interviewed Mr. Thomas Vosper (Founder & CEO, aisle 3) to get insights on the startup story and growth hacks of the company. In this article, you'll discover how aisle 3 started, its business model, USP, funding details, future plans, and more.
aisle 3 - Company Highlights
- Startup Name-aisle 3
- Founders-Thomas J. Vosper (CEO), James Valbuena
- Headquarters-London, UK
aisle 3 - About
Founded just 15 months ago, aisle 3 is a new, disruptive eCommerce marketplace that creates 'a universal view of shopping’. aisle 3 aggregates retailer offers and rich product information by deploying machine learning and AI algorithms, so shoppers have a complete view of all of their buying options for all products on a single screen. The company's core belief is that the current eCommerce experience is broken, with product research being disconnected from product purchases. The experience is deeply flawed as a result of too much power being in the hands of the tech giants. This leads to aisle 3's revolutionary idea to disrupt the eCommerce experience. This approach will put power and choice back into the hands of Shoppers. Whilst other businesses focus on logistics or payments, the aisle 3 team's focus is on the Shopper and putting power & control back in their hands.
The team has built this business entirely remotely and internationally, during lockdown by developing the proprietary web crawler, software, and product aggregation algorithms from scratch. They have also carried out two pre-seed funding rounds, winning the backing of some of the most credible retail investors.
aisle 3 - eCommerce Industry Details
Despite a challenging year for retail in 2020, according to emarketer, worldwide retail eCommerce sales posted a 27.6% growth rate for the year, with sales reaching well over $4 trillion. They estimate $5 trillion will be achieved by 2022, and $6 trillion will be reached by 2024. In 2020, 18.0% of all retail sales took place via eCommerce. In 2024, that figure will reach 21.8%.
In the current eCommerce market, Thomas J. Vosper (Founder & CEO, aisle 3) thinks that we are seeing increasing distrust of the big tech players who have aggregated too much power and this has stifled innovation. The truth is a lack of competition leads to often poor outcomes for customers and brands. For example, Amazon has an iron grip on the eCommerce market and is focused relentlessly on the bottom line. 75% of the products above the folder are either adverts or Amazon's own brands. This means Amazon and Google show you what they can best monetize, not always what you want to see!
Thomas believes the band of rebels that form startups have the most exciting opportunity to change the world and that’s where he hopes to see aisle 3 fittings in – as a trusted partner for retailers and brands and a trusted Shopper destination site.
aisle 3 - How it Started
Having seen the inner workings of a failed price comparison startup and being made redundant when the company folded at the start of the first lockdown, Thomas realized that now was the time to create a business out of years of industry experience. The likes of Amazon and JD focus on delivery, Klarna and Alipay on the checkout - but no one is taking care of the Shopper before the buy button.
"We are finally at the intersection of technology, demand, and funding to finally be able to aggregate all offers and products across the internet without the input of any retailer or brand. What would have once lead to a Capex that required a entire city full of servers, now becomes an
Opex of infinitely scalable cloud infrastructure. This leads to the unique proposition of aisle 3 and the reason I took out a startup personal loan to create the business" Thomas J. Vosper (Founder & CEO, aisle 3) added.
aisle 3 - Product/Service
It is a really frustrating experience when you can book a flight, rental car, and hotel on a single site, but you can’t find a pair of trainers in the right color and size without opening a bunch of tabs on your browser and checking a myriad of retailers. We can walk on the moon but still can’t show someone the best price for a pair of wireless headphones. Nothing has changed with the product data powering online shopping since Thomas was at Amazon 14 years ago, with the reliance still on retailer-provided data.
This leads to the unique proposition of aisle 3, creating the source of truth that shows shoppers all of their buying options in one trusted location. The company's product truly disrupts the fragmented online shopping experience by aggregating all offers onto a single screen, aisle 3 will save Shoppers hours of research across a myriad of open tabs, boards, spreadsheets, or note apps. To achieve this the team has built a web crawler that discovers products, uses AI to transform and enrich product data alongside neutral networks to aggregate products.
The company started with trainers but now plans to roll out a whole series of products. It recently announced the launch of a new division in India as it continues the rapid growth trajectory.
Aisl3 India Pvt Limited has launched with a team of 12 and has plans to triple the size of the team in the next year (2022).
aisle 3 India Team
Thomas J. Vosper (CEO) and James Valbuena are the founders of aisle 3.
aisle 3 founders and team
Thomas Vosper - Founder & CEO of aisle 3
Thomas and James worked at the same price comparison site that folded at the start of the first lockdown and decided to launch the business together and leverage their 30+ years of collective eCommerce experience at retailers including Amazon, Tesco, Lastminute. They both saw the flaws in the eCommerce experience and it was something they had a shared vision and were determined to change. James is an expert on AI & ML and has experience in building large technical and marketing teams over the years. Thomas was one of the early employees at Amazon and was responsible for launching thousands of sellers across new categories and products.
aisle 3 has grown to now be a team of 18 - all based remotely - most in India. Whilst they were hired across 5 continents, the company found that the majority of its talent came from India. To deepen its commitment to the team and the region the startup has subsequently formed a local subsidiary that means it can offer its team the comfort and security of working with a registered legal entity in India.
aisle 3 - Name and Logo
It was important for the founders that they paid homage to their physical retailing roots; whilst explicitly eschewing blunt brand names (PriceSpy, Pricesearcher, Pricerunner) which frame the business in price comparison and become off-putting to retailers. Fixing shopping is not
only comparison – the team are passionate about ensuring Shoppers can discover new brands and retailers they may never have heard of.
aisle 3 - Business Model and Revenue Model
At the moment aisle 3 is at the pre-revenue stage, but it'll work to a performance-based model with retailers and brands. Over 900 retailers (including the likes of Nike, Farfetch, Ralph
Lauren) have signed up to the waiting list and over 20 agencies have agreed on partnerships for
Most marketplaces like Amazon and price comparison sites work by processing product data supplied by retailers - which is why shoppers come across products poorly matched up or duplicates when they are searching. aisle 3 decided to take on the task of searching the internet for the product details itself before aggregating everything without the retailers’ input. It started with trainers and this was its first business proof point - achieved after just a few months.
aisle 3 - Startup Launch & Marketing Strategy
As a pre-revenue startup tackling a big issue in Shopping aisle 3 is still very much in stealth to the general population. This has granted it the freedom to secure some amazing talent (especially in India) and explore commercial partnerships.
It very quickly gained commercial traction within the thriving agency and advertising ecosystem in the UK by supporting some of the very biggest advertisers to reach Shoppers through the EU-wide CSS program. aisle 3 now has over 100 advertisers across 20 agency partners and this includes names such as Liberty London, Schuh, Secret Sales, and Claire’s Accessories.
In the run-up to Christmas 2021, aisle 3 looks forward to launching its new Shopping site to the public and saving Shoppers both time and money - - "Our focus is on the Shopper and putting
power and control back in their hands."
This momentum of its launch and story saw the startup secure some excellent press coverage about its story from redundancy to fundraising (aisle 3 became one of only 342 companies in the UK that secured investment for the first time in 2020) around this time. The momentum that led to it closing two funding rounds of more than $600k from some of the most relevant and credible investors around.
aisle 3 - Challenges Faced
The team at aisle 3 has faced some extraordinary challenges due to running a remote team during the pandemic year. Many of the events of the past year outside of Covid have directly impacted its global team, for example, Black Lives Matter protests in the US, Belarus elections and protests obstructing its UI designer, Terrible flash flooding in Hyderabad, Conflict in Armenia and Azerbaijan disrupting the Head of Machine Learning and most recently the terrible surge of COVID infections in India. It learned that by assembling a culturally diverse group of people, aisle 3 also proved its mission was global!
aisle 3 - Growth
aisle 3's key markers for growth will be GMV (the value of sales it generates for the retailers that it signs commercial relationships with) once it is publicly launched in Q4 (the startup has a waiting list of around 900 retailers). aisle 3 gets 2,000 organic shoppers each day in stealth, and 20+ Digital Agencies have signed as partners with more than a million products. It has also raised more than $600k in two funding rounds securing the support of some of the most credible retail investors out there.
aisle 3 - Funding and Investors
aisle 3 has raised a total funding of more than $600k (£450k) in 2 rounds of funding. The funding details are as follows:
aisle 3 - Advisors and Mentors
aisle 3 works closely with the former FD of Secret Escapes (Alex Wakeford) alongside its excellent investors, the Leibovich brothers who founded Catch of the Day in Australia. The startup benefits from the support of investors with a rich background in eCommerce from companies such as Visualsoft, Redbrain, Amazon, Pouch, and Connectd.
aisle 3 - Recognition and Achievements
aisle 3 has been winning widespread recognition in the tech, eCommerce, and startup media with dozens of write-ups and profiles for a company recognized for doing something different, new, and exciting. It has been dubbed ‘the Wikipedia of product search’ and Thomas J. Vosper was even invited to give a TEDx talk about his journey as a first-time founder
Thomas J. sVosper was invited to give a TEDx talk about his journey as a first-time founder
aisle 3 - Future Plans
The team at aisle 3 is ambitious to completely revolutionize the advertising experience which currently relies on interruptions when they can instead form a symbiotic relationship with retailers and brands that presents Shoppers with relevant, personalized offers at the right time.
Voice and conversational commerce will begin to have more impact on the Shopper's journey and they'll continue to work hard on the enabling foundation which is best in class product and offer information and a source of truth for Shoppers.
aisle 3 - FAQs
What is aisle 3?
aisle 3 is a new, disruptive eCommerce marketplace that creates 'the only universal view of Shopping’. aisle 3 aggregates retailer offers and rich product information by deploying machine learning and AI algorithms, so shoppers have a complete view of all of their buying options for all products on a single screen.
Who founded aisle 3?
Thomas J. Vosper (CEO) and James Valbuena are the founders of aisle 3.
Is aisle 3 an Indian company?
aisle 3 is headquartered in London. It recently announced the launch of a new division in India as it continues the rapid growth trajectory. Aisl3 India Pvt Limited has launched with a team of
12 and has an office in Ahmedabad, with plans to open 2 more in the next 12 months.
How does aisle 3 work?
aisle 3 scours the internet to find the latest products and offers before aggregating all offers and rich product information by deploying machine learning and AI algorithms – without any input, product IDs, barcode numbers, or manufacturer codes from Retailers and Brands.
This provides shoppers a complete view of all of their buying options for all products on a single
screen for the first time ever.