Khojan soft launches to help London's boutique stores move online

Khojan is a new UK startup that is on a mission to help independent or boutique stores get online, aiding their discovery in the process.

Initially soft launching in London’s trendy Brick Lane and Portobello road areas, Khojan is described as an online shopping community that allows shoppers to buy products, view profiles and interact with individual shops all within one platform. Users can either browse by products, essentially rolling up all that is on offer, or by independent store, which works quite well to give a flavour of the diversity and characteristic of these iconic areas of London. Additionally, the site offers a search feature.

So, for example, Brick Lane reveals “Eastside Books”, a thirty year old independent book store, alongside “Mendoza Menswear”, which does a line in vintage menswear. Obviously, for stores like these perhaps getting online isn’t highest on the priority list, relying instead on tourist and local visitor footfall.

Nonetheless, the web offers the potential for repeat and extended trading as well as a marketing boost and would seem a no brainer if the costs can be kept down and the barriers low. Which is exactly the problem that Khojan is trying to solve.

On Khojan’s platform, the shops themselves get a profile with a fully functioning online store from which they can add and manage products, transactions (via PayPal) and view reports. There is also the option for buyers to pay and collect in store, which would seem a very good fit.

Having only soft launched, the priority for Khojan at the moment is to work with shops, getting their products and profiles uploaded and ready for customers. So far they’ve signed up 33 shops and say they have more shops and products coming online this week, which would certainly suggest that there is demand for this kind of boutique store aggregator and platform. On that note, one obvious competitor is Canada-based Shopify, amongst a host of services designed to help merchants set up shop online.