Fruugo is a Finnish startup and a strange beast; it’s like a mini-Amazon for European countries without Amazon – offering cross border (European) purchases, a multi-lingual interface and social shopping (shared wishlists and shopper stalking follow-that-shopper) functionality. And it offers a cast-iron returns policy for Finnish shoppers who don’t trust Dutch merchants and vice versa.
But despite all this, is the Fruugo proposition really that compelling? Sure, I may be able to source a Swedish product when I’m in Finland, but how often do I want to do that? And with the mainstreaming of e-commerce and national e-commerce sites increasingly offering international shipping, the buy-abroad-from-home Fruugo offer is less than unique. If we could get Russian caviar without worrying about credit card fraud, then perhaps… but Fruugo has only launched in three countries (Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands).
And what about the social shopping functionality – just how large is the market for Swedish people who want to stalk Finnish shoppers shopping for Dutch products?
Personally, I think Fruugo is doomed unless it gets it’s value proposition sorted out – a single-minded and compelling offer. For example, if Fruugo offered a “VPN” or “, ” style service for shopping – i.e. shop anywhere from anywhere, then that could be cool. Or even a European version of Stylefeeder, a trendspotting social shopping site for tracking hip fashions and hipsters across Europe, then that’d be cool too. But currently the social shopping aspects of Fruugo just get in the way – unless of course you are a Swede who wants to stalk Finnish shoppers shopping for Dutch products…